My Dad was a hard worker – and spent his long career on building sites.
He learned his trade as a carpenter and earned his living as one until he was 31.
Then he became a foreman on building sites – a big achievement for someone so young and with so little formal education.
I’m not even sure if the word “foreman” is used these days. But his job was to take blueprints from architects – and I remember they were actually blue prints in those days – and turn those drawings into buildings.
At one point he took an evening course in industrial relations.
One evening the lecturer outlined a hypothetical dispute and asked the class what the owner should do.
No one answered.
Dad was particularly tired that evening, so he was dozing off. Was that why the lecturer then asked Dad in particular to answer? Or maybe the lighting was dim and the lecturer couldn’t see one way or the other? We don’t know. That detail is lost in the mists of time as Dad’s classmates didn’t share that detail with him.
Either way, in his doziness, Dad thought the lecturer was asking him what he was doing.
“Nothing” Dad answered – probably after a gentle elbow in the ribs from a classmate.
“Correct” said the lecturer.
Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do.
Recently I was designing a survey for a client and my client was having login difficulties with their survey tool provider (SurveyMonkey). My client had contacted SurveyMonkey’s support and had lodged a support case. But, because SurveyMonkey’s response wasn’t immediate, my client was scurrying around trying to find another solution.
But the thing is this – the issue wasn’t mission critical. (And it was well after 5pm.)
The best course of action? Do nothing. I sent my client a quick email that included:
“SurveyMonkey’s support (to account holders) is typically superb – arriving within an hour. So I’d suggest that time is on your side.
Let this sit for the evening, re-assess in the morning, and then decide.“
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t work hard. Damn right you should work hard. And Dad did. But sometimes it’s best to just let things sit. And see what might emerge.