The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 15, 2013

Doing a little more is not always doing the best for you

In the winter of 2010, I drove from Washington to Philadelphia to join friends and family to celebrate the life and work of a beloved friend and mentor. I filled up the gas tank before departure and headed out in icy conditions.

The event was filled with endearing and moving testimonials. The forum gave all of us another opportunity to reflect on how precious life is and reconnect with what really matters most.

I returned to Washington the following day, filling up the tank again in the same station near my home. This time, I noticed a sign at the pump asking drivers not to leave their cars unattended and not to top off the tank. I casually asked the convenience store clerk if it would not be better for the business to let customers top off their tank. I thought that if everybody would squeeze in one more dollar of gas, sales would increase.

The clerk corrected me on that point. He told me that topping off your tank is not good for anyone. It is a waste because too much gas is spilled, it is bad for the environment, it is dangerous, it risks the potential of fire and it could actually kill someone.

I realized then that trying to pump just a bit more, just a few extra drops, could lead to devastating consequences.

What is true at the pump is also true in life. Too frequently, we try to top off our own tank. We add one more meeting to our schedule, we write one more email, make one more call, we drink one more cup of coffee, we see one more client, we put in one more hour of work before calling it a day.

We take on these extra chores for many reasons: We want to please, to maintain the reputation of "hard worker," "multi-tasker," a person with many hats. The pressure to conform is great. Staying late, working 10-12 hours a day, can mean higher status in certain organizations and be the path to promotion. Our egos can also get in the way; after all, we can handle more, and our culture is overrun by the sentiment that more has to be better.

Text Only
  • Fancy management systems won’t fix bad managers

    In violation of my long-standing “only watch TV” rule, I read an article recently about how Zappos is adopting a management structure known as holacracy.

    July 30, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Supervisor-employee boundaries must be honored

    QUESTION: Two weeks ago, my husband “Barry“ unexpectedly came home from work with a large flat-screen television. He explained that one of his employees gave it to him as repayment for a loan. I was shocked, because I had no idea that Barry was lending people money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Silly mistakes that sink job applicants

    Some employers won’t care - or won’t catch them - but mistakes in word usage can put your application in the reject pile.

    July 29, 2014

  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

Business Video