Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Life. Can you deliver?
It’s ALL about deliverables.
It’s pretty simple really.
Every relationship in your life is based on “deliverables”.
Deliverables are the things that are being asked of you, an expectation.
As an academic advisor, I interact with students who come in at wit’s end, not knowing how to make the grade they need to be successful in whatever class it is they’re failing at the time. This is where I bring up this concept of deliverables to them. When you take a class you are not entitled to a particular grade simply because you paid for it. Jobs are the same way. You are not entitled to a sixty thousand dollar a year salary simply for showing up. The public high school system fails our kids by grooming them for just "getting by" through life. Doing the precise acceptable minimum is a recipe for graduation. It’s a disservice. The world is getting more and more competitive. There are more people on the planet than have ever been on the planet before and this situation shows no signs of changing or reversing.
So here’s the concept:
You are being asked to deliver a product (X).
Can you deliver (X)?
Yes or no.
If the answer is yes, then you will be successful. It’s that simple.
The trick is identifying just what exactly (X) is.
This identification process is the first step. The second step is providing (X).
Let’s start with a classroom setting. When you take a class, the very first day, the professor will hand you a syllabus and go over the expectations as to what is being asked of you as a student. These are deliverables. As a student, you are being asked to deliver a product, a project for example. This project consists of a set of criteria. It must be so many pages long; it must contain these certain points; it must have other various aspects; it must be delivered on time, etc.. You must deliver exam results which proves that you comprehend the material you agreed to when you registered for the class. You must deliver your body in a chair for an appropriate amount of time. That’s pretty much it. I often get push-back from students that say “I don’t know what her problem is, I paid for the class. I show up. She should just pass me.”
“Nope. You’re missing the point. You paid for the privilege to take the class. If everyone just got a grade because they paid for it, what would be the point in obtaining a diploma? It wouldn’t mean anything."
Jobs are the same way with the exception of it’s less direct on what the expectations are, but at this point you should have an idea as to how to deliver what’s being asked of you. Your boss wants you to complete these specific tasks. If you successfully deliver these tasks, you will be successful. These tasks include workload, compatibility with others, completion of work on time, delivering your body at your job.
Say you meet someone and there’s mutual interest and things begin to progress. You will have mutual expectations of one another. This is a different kind of scenario then the ones mentioned above because ideally, it's an equal-footing. With classroom and workplace settings, there is an immediate and real power structure that is unequal. You will most likely be the subordinate. You enter in those situations because they are necessary to graduate or provide the funding you need to live. With romantic relationships or even platonic relationships, you’re there because you want to be in them. That said, the deliverables are things like loyalty. What level of loyalty or fidelity are you being asked to deliver? Intimacy, presence, and compatibility all follow along the same sort of vein. Do you want children and are you willing to do what’s necessary to deliver them? Can you deliver the income necessary to make this particular relationship work? Lastly, can you and will you deliver the amount of love required for this relationship?
Just as a side note, let your imagination run wild for a second and say that you’re a celebrity. As a celebrity you are being asked to deliver to your fans and critics, a level of performance with some amount of regularity. There are image deliverables to consider as well. These deliverables are everywhere and the world runs on them.
Its boils down to this,
Identify the (X)
Is (X) a realistic deliverable?
A) Can I deliver (X)?
B) Do I want to deliver (X)?
There is no shame in asking what is expected of you. It shows initiative and a willingness to deliver. That said, it is best to ask these questions at the beginning. Waiting until the day of the final; waiting until your boss calls you in with a “we need to talk” speech; waiting until you hear “I think we should see other people”, is too late. Being blown away from not knowing what you needed to deliver is part of figuring life out, and it’s happened to ALL of us. It’s painful, but take it as a lesson that you should have asked what your deliverables were at the beginning. It’s never too late to realize the truth behind deliverables, and then incorporate that in new relationships in the classroom, workplace, or personal relationships going forward. Berating yourself for not doing it because you didn’t know serves no purpose, but not doing it when you know better is foolish.