You Are Not the Center of the Universe: Be A Part of the Team!
“That wasn’t in my job description.”
“I didn’t make the mess; I shouldn’t have to clean it up.”
“I’m tired of always having to be the one to pick up the slack–I’m not doing it anymore.”
“Why is that my responsibility?”
If you’ve ever heard someone utter these words (or, -gasp-, if you’ve dared utter them yourself,) you probably know just how obnoxious these statements can be. There is nothing more eye-roll-worthy than someone who refuses to be a team player, contribute to the greater good of the situation, and/or take responsibility for their actions (or, of course, inaction.) Why is it so gross? Because it literally hurts everyone around the statement, including the person who said it (although they may not realize it at the time.) A couple of things to consider the next time you feel a case of the “self-absorbies” coming on:
- Kiss that promotion good-bye. “But Danielle,” you say, “I do my job very well. I just shouldn’t have to do hers on top of it.” Glad you think so. Except you’re wrong. No employer is going to respect someone that won’t help the team out when necessary only because it wasn’t highlighted in yellow on their offer letter. Remember company stewardship? It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the place you work a great one, and you should take every opportunity you can to pitch in. When you don’t, don’t be surprised when your company leaves you in the dust…and don’t complain about a lack of forward motion in your job. Instead, move forward all on your own by taking initiative.
- Are you prepared for the resentment you’re about to breed? When someone refuses to take responsibility for their actions or won’t pitch in to help out the team, it means that the responsibility and extra tasks must fall on someone else. When that person sees your bad attitude, then sees how much more they have on their plate as a result of your unwillingness to help, they will begin to resent you. Resentment breeds more bad attitudes. More bad attitudes means more people who eventually say, “Why should I have to do this? It’s her mess and I’m not cleaning it up!” What happens then? Another person takes on that responsibility and the cycle begins all over again. Don’t be a part of that; break the cycle when it gets to you. Results from good attitudes include breeding more good attitudes, more teamwork-oriented environments, things getting done faster and more efficiently, and people being excited to contribute. Which cycle would you rather be responsible for starting?
- Choose which hills you really want to die on. Should you be responsible for everything in your environment? No. Sometimes, is what happened really, truly, someone else’s fault? Yes. Should they also be responsible for taking responsibility for their actions? Yes. Is it important to set boundaries? Yes. Should you overwork yourself or let people use you as a doormat to the detriment of your personal, financial, mental, emotional, spiritual well-being? Of course not. But that’s not what I’m saying here. You should absolutely set up personal boundaries and know your limitations. You should absolutely not let people take advantage of you. You should also absolutely know the difference between someone using you unfairly (and consistently) and someone who needs an extra hand (including your boss and your team.) Not knowing the difference means that you can go to one extreme or the other. You should never be a doormat, but you should also think about the bigger picture: don’t let work or personal relationships suffer because you decided to be stubborn.
- Get over yourself. It is a true statement that the world does not revolve around any of us as individuals, though we may like to believe it does at times. We live in relation to others and that means we have to think about how what we say, do, think, and feel affects those around us. It’s important that, before these self-centered statements manifest from thoughts to words, you think about how it might affect someone else and whether or not you’re okay with what results from these words. Sometimes it is necessary to set aside our own anger and stubbornness to reevaluate the situation and figure out what little steps we can take to make it better for everyone involved. Not everything has to be a grand gesture; it is important to step in with the smaller efforts, too. Once you decide to set aside your own view on how things should be and instead focus on achieving the greater good together a little bit at a time, you’ll be surprised with how the results benefit everyone around you–including that Career Girl in the mirror.
You don’t have to be a busybody, you don’t have to be Superwoman, you don’t have to be everyone’s mom, and you don’t have to be a doormat. But you do have to show up and play. Instead, think conscientiously about the ways you can pitch in and get your hands dirty. The world around you will be a better place for it…and will probably treat you a little better as well.