Give away that lego.

There’s this temptation to hang onto tasks and not let others take over that I’ve heard about a lot. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a great manager should work themselves out of a job. It makes a lot of sense when I read about it on Medium and it sounds like a pretty obvious and easy thing to do. Just keep delegating. Today I had a chance to give away some lego and it was… hard.

Why? Am a power hungry maniac? Not really. But, I did receive a massive dose of the Protestant Ethic. I think it’s hard for me to give away the lego because if I do that, the immediate result is that I will have less work to do.

Oh, the horror. How will I do the thing and win the points if someone else does the thing? Maybe I will not be useful to my team.

Maybe they will realize, we don’t really need you…

So then why do people tell you to give away your lego, if it’s career suicide?

It’s what you do when you take out that task where it gets interesting. It started off as a quiet afternoon ahead. Without a default task to occupy me, I had to think much more deeply about what needed to be done. How can I be useful, now that I can’t be useful in that way anymore? Where can I level up and push things forward?

I had a great chat with a thoughtful engineer who made some deep points and as the conversation went on, I could start to see the core of some challenges emerge more clearly. I started to work on solving that more fundamental problem.

Giving away the lego is hard, because it makes you obsolete in one way… and opens the chance to grow in another way. You don’t get the chance to grow without that small gulping feeling that you might fall short.