This is part of the series Lessons from the Backseat… My son Aris started soccer classes when he was five years old. His Dad would take him to the field on weekdays. On Saturdays, when I went to watch the games, I spent half the time cheering and the other half giggling. Have you ever watched little kids play soccer? They squabble with their own team members for the ball, chase halfway down the field before they realise they are heading to their own goal and they don’t know how to control the ball yet so it’s bouncing all over the field. I encouraged Aris to just enjoy the games and have a good time.
But the first time he was goalie all that talk about ‘just have a good time’ went through the window. My heart was in my mouth as I watched the coach suit him up. All I could think was, ‘Oh no, that is too much responsibility, he’s not ready. If the other side scores – he is going to be crushed.’ And then I was driven by over-performing parent paranoia – I didn’t want my son to be the one to let down the team.
I was standing on the sidelines consumed with worry. And then, my five-year-old son, who must have been receiving the most powerful psychic energy ever or, perhaps, just knows his Mom, looked over at me. He looked me straight in the eyes and gave me a settle-down hand signal as if to say, ‘I’ve got this’. I had to simply trust him to get the job done. He did a spectacular job as goalie and his team won that Saturday.
This was like my lesson of giving people freedom to succeed but the difference here is the trust factor. Have you ever told someone “‘go ahead, you’re in charge of this” but you secretly didn’t trust them to do it well? Guess what? It wasn’t a secret. They could feel your lack of trust and it probably robbed them of much needed confidence. I’m so glad my son had the five-year-old presence of mind to call me on my lack of faith.
When you assign a task, if you don’t trust your people to get the job done, or to do it right, then you might as well not let them do it. And if you have been on the other side of not being trusted, you know it’s not a great feeling and it can affect your performance.
So, next time see if this works – back off, have faith, and let go. Trust your people to get the job done and free up your mind to focus on other things.
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