Last saturday my elder son had a friend’s birthday party at a park outside the city limits. I drove him there and, having nothing to do the rest of the morning, I started my return to home enjoying the travel time. That is, going slowly for a highway standard. Suddenly, a truck  began getting very close to me, until there was no more than three or four feet, a distance too short for travelling at 50 or 55 mph. He also started to put the lights on and off, until there was space enough to go to the right and let him go his way to hell. He pissed me off, but he also gave me something to think about the rest of the trip.

As you know, I usually drop my kids at the school in the morning, and go to work after that. I am usually in a hurry because I want to get in my office’s building as soon as possible, and a lot of drivers seem to be going really slowly. And I discovered that a lot of times I start to blink my lights to them so they give me space to overpass them, much like the truck driver did, except for going so close to the other cars.

Is it a matter of perception of the time? I mean, if I am in a hurry, all of the other drivers seem to be going slow; if I have plenty of time, the other drivers seem to be insanely fast. The situation also reminded me about the famous size of the sun or the moon in the horizon, seeming bigger there than up in the sky. Or, and here is the point for today, the job of other people in the company: did you see how easy seem to be the other’s jobs?

A very good friend of mine told me about a nice experience he had with his team: he organized a “circus workshop” with them. One of the conclusions, among a lot of learning points, was that seeing someone do something gracefully gave the perception that it was easy to do, until the moment they try to do it. The “experiment” was seeing the workshop’s coach do some juggling with two or three balls. He was so good doing it that everyone thought it was easy, until they tried for themselves.

At the office, if we see someone that do his job with no evident effort, there is a tendency to qualify that job as easy, so the performer is immediately taken as lazy or one tend to think that he is overpaid. Really, have you ever try to do his job? As I mentioned before, reality and perceptions can go very different ways.

It is very difficult to experience the job of other person if you can not be in his shoes. Some companies have programs where the employees can do the work of other colleagues for a day; although it is not the same, since they are not seen as responsable, it can give a taste of the difficulties that we can’t see about other’s jobs, mainly because they are really good at what they do, so the work seem to flow around them.

The next time you think about a colleague being overpaid for what he does, think again, or try to juggle with the three or four balls he use to juggle everyday. You will be surprised about all the small, and not so small, things you overview about his expertise.


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