We hired a new staff member recently. We snatched her up, actually, the second we heard she was available, because she is a gem! We scooted things over to make room for her at the front desk, and together she and our current staff members started whipping the place into new shape.
One morning, I told her I was going out to get get the mail. Just a short walk across the drive. And she said, “Could I do that for you?”
“Why, yes,” I said, a bit astonished, “of course, you could.”
The other staff members just smiled.
Later she said, “And do we sort the mail for you here at the front desk?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “I always sort the mail.”
Then I trundled off to my back corner to sort mail and tackle my over-crowded to-do list. You can see where this is going, right? It took me almost 24-hours to catch on. The breakthrough finally came while I was reading an email about our granddaughter, Claire. She is in a new school this year and is being her usual “I-don’t-need-any-help” self. I don’t know where she gets that.
One of the teachers who sits at Claire’s lunch table had asked what help she would need at lunch. The teacher knew Claire’s left hand refuses to cooperate with her brain most of the time. But Claire assured the teacher she needed no help. So the teacher decided to wait and see what happened.
Sure enough, the next day at lunch, one of Claire’s little friends opened her own carton of milk and then reached over and opened Claire’s. No conversation. No big deal. Just one friend helping another.
I cried a little over that. Over such a kind soul in a new school. And over Claire not wanting to ask for help. Then, I heard my own silly response about the mail. Good grief! Why am I still sorting the mail when I have novels to write and software systems to research?
I turned over the mail the next morning, and I repented for being a control-freak. I realized my unwillingness to ask for help was more of a weakness than a strength, and I vowed to overcome it. All the staff members smiled. I felt my fists unclench a bit, and I heard things falling into place as people began to pick up the tasks they are uniquely designed to do. Far beyond the mail, of course.
I wonder what I might actually accomplish now that I’ve decided to stop sorting the mail.