Friday, September 18, 2009

Being Nice at my Own Expense

I've had some 'appliance angst' this past couple weeks. All of a sudden I had a problem with my refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher and garbage disposal. All at the same time!

On Thursday, I called an appliance repair service and set up an appointment for the following Monday. At first I thought they could repair all the appliances. It turns out they didn't work on the type of refrigerator that I have. I had to call a different repair service for the refrigerator. Ironically, the refrigerator repair people were able to come the very day I called. I was happy to get it taken care of immediately.

When the repair guy showed up that Thursday, he handed me a business card. I noticed that it said they also repaired washing machines, dishwashers and garbage disposals.

I thought about the fact that I could talk to this guy about all my problems, and possibly have it all taken care of IMMEDIATELY.

Then I felt a bit guilty about the other repair service. I had already set the appointment with them for the following Monday.

I was also the last appointment on the repair schedule for the guy who was fixing my fridge. I felt it would be unfair to 'spring' all the other appliances on him.

I decided to remain silent, and keep the appointment with the other company on Monday.

I was out of town for the weekend. My activities took me longer than I thought they would, and on Sunday, I was really regretting that I had to return home for my 9am appliance repair appointment. I would never have cancelled on such short notice, however, so I made my way home to keep the appointment.

Just before 9am that Monday morning, the second repair company called and CANCELLED my appointment for that day! They had to reschedule!!! I was flabbergasted.

Then I realized, I hadn't done ANYONE any favors with my actions the previous Thursday. I tried to be considerate of everyone else's time and I had basically harmed myself!!

I ended up calling the first repair company back that Monday, and within 2 hours, the same repairman was back at my house to work on all the other appliances.

In my attempt to 'take care of everyone' I had caused myself a huge inconvenience, cost myself some additional money, and made this repair guy make an unnecessary trip to my house.

No one won in this scenario. It all originated because I felt 'overly responsible' for all these people, and I let that direct my actions, instead of what was best for me - they paying customer!

An investing teacher that I've studied with talks about the 'tuition' that we have to pay to learn our lessons. Of course, in investing, sometimes that tuition for learning hard lessons is paid in money. In other life experiences, our 'tuition' can be paid in money, pain, inconvenience and a host of other currencies!

I paid some tuition for this situation. What a lesson!

Sometimes when we put everyone else's needs above our own, we think we're doing a virtuous and generous thing. Often, however, we just end up making more work for ourselves and our efforts don't really help those we are trying to care take!

I'm not encouraging selfish oblivion here, but I am suggesting that it's OK to do what's best for ourselves once in a while.

Jack Boland, a teacher of mine used to say, "There is no private good." He meant that when we do what is truly best for us, it is usually what's best for others as well.

Some of us who try too hard to be self sacrificing need to examine that pattern and correct it.

Everyone in the 'appliance scenario' would have been better off, had I done what was best for me. Often times this is the case!

Any martyrdom or self sacrificing going on in your world? Take a look... and some corrective action!