Get my hands dirty? Not me!
Do tedious work, which no one will ever know I did? No thanks!
Photo op? Sure, I have time for that.
Speech at the opening event? Oh yes, I can definitely be there, with bells on!
I call these people ribbon cutters and I am sure we have all worked for or with someone like this or know someone like this personally.
This person, who is seemingly so passionate about a project, starts delegating away all the tedious tasks, monotonous research and heavy lifting to whomever they can. If they cannot skirt the work, they blame others, saying that others are impeding the process of the project by not helping.
They do not listen, they only talk and they are exhausting because they think they know everything. The sad truth is, the most ignorant person in the room usually thinks they are the smartest and typically speak the most.
Be wary of these people.
They walk around with a sing-songy voice and appear to always have good intentions, but looks are (always) deceiving. They try to charm you and try to kindly cajole you into doing things, even though you may be refusing, they will not stop until you succumb.
They are the person that never calls, emails or check-ins, until they need something from you.
You know who I am talking about, out of the blue, all of sudden, you are getting messages from them nonstop, asking you how you are, that you two need to catch up and that it’s just been far, far too long.
Trap! It’s a trap! Run for the hills and do not look back because they are coming to get ya!
They do not understand the word ‘no’ and they will try to pester you into productivity.
Do not be bullied by this type of behaviour; we need to teach ribbon cutters how they can treat us.
They are the person who does not want to get down into the weeds of the work. They do not want to do anything, which will not have external praise or eyes on it.
Most projects I have worked on, the majority of the work is behind the scenes. The final report or presentation is peanuts in comparison to all the data collection, meetings, focus groups and research needed for the final ten or twenty page report.
Most of the real work is done alone and most people are not willing to do said work because it is hard and not publicly applauded.
I was called for a favour by a ribbon cutter recently.
I do not work for them or with them, and they are not part of my organization, but they wanted my ‘help.’
Usually, I am more than happy to help others, I believe in serving others as best I can, but in my ripe old age of thirty-four I am becoming smarter and more selective as to where I spend my time and allocate my energy.
Sure, I could help you, yes. Yes, it would only take me an hour or so to do the research you are looking for, but why?
Why should I help you? Especially when you are treating me like the hired help?
I have realized, the longer you are working, the more specialized you become, the more of these favours start to crop up in your life. From your friends, family, colleagues, and strangers, everyone wants just five minutes of your time, so you have to be strategic. You could do all the favours asked of you, burn yourself out, sacrifice your downtime and be guilted into working, for free, all of the time, but that does not make you a good person, it makes you a pushover.
There is this assumption that if you work somewhere you know the inner workings of the organization and have all these inside leads. This is not true when you work at an organization that over 80,000 people congregate to on the daily. I have no inside scoop, I know a limited amount of people, who are part of a giant cog, connected to a multitude of other giant cogs, where it would impossible to know the who’s who of every department.
Ribbon cutters do not care; they want what they want (even though they do not really know what they want) and they want it now.
Why should I sacrifice the time, which I would otherwise spend decompressing, after a long day of work by reading a book, watching television or cooking a curry, low and slow, the way I love to do, to do some tedious work for you? For a project you may or may not complete?
For the service of others? I serve others all day, I’m good thanks. It is time to serve my mind now, to keep that thing, what is it called? Oh right, my sanity, I need to relax to keep my sanity intact.
I do not help the ribbon cutters anymore.
Actually, let me be more specific, I only help them when I know they have busted their ass, what they are asking of me is not extravagant and I know I can be a catalyst for their project, with minimal harm to my time.
If I know what you are asking will take me writing a quick email, having a short phone call or connecting to you to someone I know, no problem.
I can automatically tell how much work someone has done when they ask me for a favour; it is in the ask itself.
If they are vague, unsure and indirect, they have not done shit yet and want you to the digging.
If they talk more than they listen, they do not know what they are talking about. If they speak to me like I am their assistant (which if you do have an assistant, treat with the utmost respect) then pay me or bugger off.
Ribbon cutters are arrogant, self-centered and inherently rude, you will realize this when you tell them ‘no’ because their facade will fall and their true self will come barreling at you. Watch them Jekyll and Hyde you when you do not give them what they want, their chipper demeanour will quickly change, believe me.
I am done doing service work for people who will not help themselves.
They are the people who talk a great game; their ideas are brilliant, but those shiny concepts never seem to concretize.
It is sad really.
You can tell a ribbon cutter by how they deal with defeat, listen to who they blame. The fault will never fall on them, but rather everyone and everything else.
Everyone can have a great idea, but it is in the moments when no one is watching that brilliance in the making actually happens.
Ribbon cutting should be the icing on the cake, so earn the damn calories and quit pestering me.