Do you ever feel like you are the only one who can do what you do? In some cases, that is true, such as being the person you are in any relationship (mom, dad, spouse, etc.).
However, in the variety of tasks that you perform in other roles, other people can also do what you do—and that is a good thing. It’s a good reminder to see yourself as replaceable and not take yourself so seriously that you have to do everything yourself to the utmost degree of perfection.
A friend of mine was asked in an interview what his greatest strength was. His answer was that he didn’t take things so seriously that it bogged him down.
This allowed for and created efficiency in his work, and also made him a great mentor to his apprentices because he gave them plenty of latitude to jump in and contribute, rather than watch him do all of the work. Not everything had to be done in one prescribed way to be considered completed, and done well.
This built confidence in the apprentices, and the high rate of advancement in their work was noticeable. It also allowed him to learn new and creative ways of doing things by seeing how others completed certain tasks.
In the same interview, he was also asked what his greatest weakness was. His answer was equally honest: he sometimes didn’t take things seriously enough.
Conversely, I think that we can all identify with that “other friend” (maybe yourself?) who carries a lot of stress as she tries to complete a number of tasks in different areas of involvement—work, home, volunteer committees, kids’ activities, extended family, church, school, community—in a whirlwind of unsustainability. You offer help, to take something off her plate, and she relinquishes the task only until you don’t do it quite how she was going to, and then she takes it back.
How does this story end? Sometimes, the deadlines are met and everything is completed perfectly. But eventually there is a train wreck—burnout, stress, bitterness, resentment, both from this friend, and from those around her.
Her “apprentices” don’t learn as much, because they aren’t given any latitude on tasks. And when they are given something, the very fear of messing up makes them inefficient and nervous and, well, prone to messing up.
Although she is probably unaware of it, she probably takes herself too seriously.
Do you take things too seriously? If you aren’t sure, try allowing others to give their honest perspective. This may help you find the appropriate balance.