JEFFREY TOBIN: Pumped up, or fired?
Once upon a time, there was a firefighter named Drew. Drew was the new, lone firefighter in the very small town of Pooterville. Pooterville was so small that the “Welcome to Pooterville” and “You’ve just left Pooterville” signs were on the same side of the post.
The residents of Pooterville had access to one well that they all shared. Their pump was right in the middle of town, near an old barn.
When someone needed water, they’d take a bucket to the pump, lift the lever and start pumping up and down and up and down until suddenly a brilliant stream of clear, cool water would rush from the spout.
As long as one pumped the lever, water would continue to rise up from the depths and leap into the air. But when the pumping stopped, the water immediately ceased to flow.
One day, Firefighter Drew smelled smoke. The town barn was on fire! There, with his hose, fire helmet and boots, he ran to the pump. Drew grabbed one end of the hose and deftly connected it to the mechanism. Moving like lightning, he pumped and pumped until water rushed out of the other end of the hose. He picked up the hose and dashed toward the fire.
But suddenly, there was no water!
“What’s happening?!” he shouted to no one. Realizing that no water would come without pumping, he again ran back to the pump, seized the handle and flew into action.
Pump, pump, pump, pump. The water began to flow again!
Drew grabbed the hose and ran as fast as he could to douse the fire, but it was no use. Again, water had stopped flowing. Try as he might, he could not keep pumping water while doing what he did best … fight fires.
He dropped to his knees, exhausted. He’d come to realize that he couldn’t be the firefighter he dreamed of being as long as he continued to manage the pump.
And just like that barn, his dream burned right down to the ground.
So much for happy endings.
But wait a minute: That’s a fairy tale.
What about your happy ending?
One thing we can learn is this: Drew was a firefighter through and through. He wanted to fight fires. He was built to fight fires. But he couldn’t follow his dream because he was a slave to the very machine that gave him what he needed to achieve his dream.
What are you doing with your life’s work? Are you doing your life’s work? What “pumps” are distracting you from achieving what you can achieve?
Look at the problem. Delegate. Reprioritize. Hire a virtual assistant. Create a tech solution. But answer this question: What could I do if I freed myself from the pump that’s there to support me, not tie me down?