As I was discussing a project with one of my service providers today, we also took a bit of time to discuss her time management. She had promised to provide me with some information some time ago and missed her own deadline. I had checked in with her to see how she was progressing. Thinking about her answer I suggested her a slightly different approach, which was to work towards the first milestone we had defined, as it would allow seeing if our ideas were feasible.
It turned out to be a very different issue: the “it is for me”-syndrome. She had delayed working on this small project as it was a project that felt personal to her, one she was doing to make her own work more comfortable and easier. In contrast to our usual roles, in this small project, she isn’t my service provider as usual, and I am the one who is selling her something.
While I had intuitively been aware of this switch, her remark “it is for me” still startled me. I’ve known her as someone who is pushing to make things happen, has a steady follow up and keeps deadlines well. In this project, her approach had been different and with “it is for me” I had the answer to my astonishment. The external accountability of a customer had been helping her to keep her deadlines and provide a consistently high-level service.
Doing the same work for herself lacked the accountability partner and left her without her usual momentum. She had forgotten, that she is her most important customer.
The project was there to make her work easier and give her additional security she felt necessary. As she is leading her own small business, what could be more important, than making sure that she has all the energy necessary to perform at the level she seeks to keep?