Don’t Be a Welcome Mat

This week I’ve been writing about saying “yes,” and about a brief gig I had before my current job. I wrote of how I said “yes” to everything, tried to be indispensable, to do everything I could.

There’s another side to this. Saying “yes” to too many things can backfire. You don’t want to become someone else’s welcome mat. You know, the thing they step over… or on… in order to get where they’re going while leaving you on the floor, covered in mud.

It’s a strong analogy!

So how do you tell? How do you know how much “yes” is too much “yes”?

The learning comes from experience, from positive and negative outcomes. Hey, that’s why I’m here for you!

Well, in my case, I had a goal. That goal was to make my presence felt but from a position of very little experience or power. My intention was to become known as someone who can get things done, who can be relied upon.

In doing so, I must admit that I stumbled into a project or two where I really couldn’t help or I stretched myself too thin. My early robust activity helped to build enough trust, enough equity, that my colleagues were understanding. I had friends and allies, built on the relationships that I built earlier that year.

And I was fortunate to be in a supportive environment. Not all places, corporate or academic, are so supportive. You probably know that already.

So have a purpose. Know what bigger objectives you are trying to fulfill… for yourself and for your organization. Know that by saying “yes” to some work you are, like it or not, saying “no” to other work. Think it through… what can you contribute, what do you know you can finish, and how will it build your own reputation and skill set?

A little extra work goes a long way.

Say “yes,” not out of fear but with a sense of purpose and direction. Make your presence known.

Have a goal. Know your allies. Know your environment. Think it through. Don’t let anyone walk all over you.

What do you think?

See you tomorrow.