Benign neglect

My sister recently won a lunch for coming up with the best suggestion for how someone could deal with normal life in the face of a major circumstance.

Her recommendation was ‘benign neglect.’ Don’t jump at every request. Don’t respond to every question. Don’t answer every email. Don’t try to get everything done.

It is amazing what can be removed from your list of things to do when you apply this principle. You begin to ask if it is even yours to do. You know what I mean – are you the best person to do this? Can anyone else do it? Are you doing it because it is really yours? Or are you doing it because it is expected, or because it is easier for you to do it than to deal with someone else who is not doing it? Does it even need to be done?

What is the worst thing that will happen if you ignore a request, an email, a phone call? Tim Ferriss talks about the art of letting bad things happen in his popular blog. One of the main points:

Will “bad” things happen? Small problems will crop up, yes. A few people will complain and quickly get over it. BUT, the bigger picture items you complete will let you see these for what they are—minutiae and repairable hiccups.

So much of what appears to be urgent will disappear and disolve in the face of benign neglect.

It is worth a try…

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One Response to Benign neglect

  1. mbkinsella1 says:

    I have also found that when I decline to answer the email, or jump in with my solution, the person asking somehow finds the time to do it themselves, with much better results, and no second guessing the remedy. As mentioned previously, if it does not get done, then it really did not have the importance that you thought it did.

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