There were two instances recently where I’d committed to helping someone and found myself devoting more energy to the task than they were.

In one case, someone desperate to find a new job asked me to help set up a Linkedin profile for them. It was loosely talked about, but no date was set. After I brought it up a couple times on different occasions I ran into this person, I found myself getting frustrated that they weren’t making it any sort of priority. They kept complaining about needing a job, but were seemingly unwilling to take even the first step to make that happen, even when my proposed help was free.

In mulling it over a bit I realized I’d broken the golden rule: You can’t care more about someone’s business than they do.

Why was it being treated as such a priority on my end?

I’ve gotten to a point where I essentially tune people out when I hear “I’ve just been busy” as a continuous excuse for simple yet important things never getting done. The bottom line is twofold:

  1. Everybody is busy; your busyness is not special.
  2. We make time for things that are important.

We all use this excuse. More importantly, though, we’ve got to stop ourselves from being sucked into other people’s indecision. As Erika Napoletano said well in her post, I’m Not Going To Ride Your Elephant, “I’m not going to waste my time going around in circles while you figure out what it is that you want or need to be doing.” In this case, if you can’t even make the time for free help when it’s offered for something you admit you need, that can’t be my problem.

If we let ourselves be dragged into that, we diminish our own productivity as our feet drag at the pace of somebody else’s sluggishness. Go at your own pace, and let them join in when they can keep up. Until they can, you’re not helping anyone by prioritizing their hangups over your own to-dos.