Monday, August 21, 2017

The Danger of Constantly Bailing, Flaking, Texting-Out and other Career Killers

Filmmaker Woody Allen once said, “80 of success is just showing up.” That’s only part of the equation. But the way things are going these days, not many folks could come close to 80 percent. What are we so busy doing?

Last week’s post about our inability to honor commitments in the smartphone age riled many folks up. So, we thought we’d do a follow-up piece about what psychotherapist Nancy Collier, LCSW calls Last Minute-Itis.” We weren’t familiar with this term until recently, but read on if you find yourself constantly bailing, flaking, texting out and wimping out on your business colleagues, friends and family.

According to Collier, the next time you make a plan with someone, you should put yourself in their shoes and see what it feels like to commit to the plan inside yourself. “Shut the back door that the cell phone opens,” advises Collier. “You may find that just by removing the possibility of a last minute text-out, by closing your options rather than keeping them open, you feel more spacious and relaxed.”


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According to Collier, you may find that you feel “more dignified” as a result of committing to do something and by giving someone your word. At HB, we have found that’s what pros do in every walk of life no matter how busy they are…..they make a promise and then keep it. Pretty simple advice!

Collier said that thanks to the cell phone and other mobile technology, people have become more insensitive, immature and self-involved. “It is teaching us that it is okay to behave in a way that is disrespectful, undignified, and ultimately unkind,” Collier added.

New York Times columnist, David Brooks opined recently that we are living in a Golden Age of Bailing. He wrote that there used to be a time when a social commitment was not regarded as a “disposable Post-it note.” He added that reliability is a “core element of treating people well” and that if you don’t “flake on” people who matter you will forge deeper and better friendships and live in a better and more respectful way.”
With the cell phone now making it acceptable to avoid having to make any firm choices, Collier said “we are losing this critical life skill,” adding that it is producing a generation of young people who are “perpetually on the fence” between choices, “inert, and paralyzed by the looseness and open-ended-ness that technology creates and supports.”

Brooks feels we should probably make bailing harder, suggesting “three moral hurdles” every instance of bailing must meet:

1.      Is it for a good reason (i.e. your kids unexpectedly need you, a new kidney became available for your transplant) or is it for a bad reason (you’re tired, you want to be alone)?
2.      Did you bail well (i.e. sending an honest text, offering another date to get together) or did you bail selfishly (ghosting, talking about how busy your life is, as if you were the only person who matters)?
3.      Did you really think about the impact on the other person? (Brooks reminds us it’s always a mistake to bail on somebody’s life event — wedding, birthday party, funeral — on the grounds that your absence won’t be noticed.)
Our take?

  • Put yourself in the other persons shoes…hint, emoji’s won’t help no matter what your age.
  • Leave plenty of time cushion between events and obligations in your calendar.
  • Follow the Pomodoro 25/5 technique (25 minutes hard thinking/5 minute break) or our own 5-4-1 technique in which you work hard for 5 hours in the morning, followed by a 60+ minute lunch break. Then you come back re-energized so you can work hard for 4 hours in the afternoon, followed by a 1-2 hour break in for family time or personal time. Then you finish up with one hour of regroup time to review the promises, commitments, to-dos of the day and get set up for tomorrow.
We have found techniques like these will prevent you from making commitments under duress—commitments you can’t possibly keep. 

  • Make appointments with yourself--and keep them. For instance, “I will get this report done by 11am today”…..or “I will start my morning run at 7am and not be late”…….I will be home no later than 7pm and finish up work after dinner.”

Life moves pretty fast and Sh*!*!*!* happens. You can’t always control your environment, but if nothing else, try to follow the 90/90 principle that we use here at HB. That means honoring 90 percent of your commitments 90 percent of the time (commitments to others and to yourself) and you’ll find that’s a pretty good batting average without the tyranny of being a perfectionist.


TAGS: David Brooks, Nancy Collier, Golden age of bailing, flaking, ghosting, Pomodoro technique

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