Recently I had to consider these questions: When you are unsure of accepting a job, do you refer someone else you know who might be available or a better fit? Do you share job postings with others, even if you’re also applying? When sharing client leads and opportunities, you are sharing or giving up not only that particular opportunity but also, in the case of freelancing, possible future work from a client.
The other morning I saw a story about an award-winning photograph of two mice fighting for a crumb on a London subway platform. It’s a great photo, but it also made me think about how the struggle for resources is an animal, not a human, instinct. Sharing is one of the first things our parents try to teach us. It’s not innate. And when it comes to our natural inability to share, that’s where conflict often begins. Not just over crumbs or toys or freelance work that helps pay the rent and put food on the table, as they say, but also on a larger scale, over water and land and oil. The photograph is a pretty fantastic representation of the challenge of all life, not just for mice.
When the question of whether to share resources came up twice in one week, I decided to find other professionals for clients who needed particular skills. In one case, although I didn’t have the required skill for the job, I knew that by introducing the client to another highly capable freelancer with many skills, I could lose future jobs requiring skills that I do have. In the second case, I decided that a colleague was better suited to the work than I was, even though it was something that I could have attempted for the paycheck. In the end, what’s important is that the right people are matched with the right jobs and that the best work is done for the client. It can also be satisfying to find other resources for clients and work for other colleagues, and I’m well of aware of the times when individuals have referred me. That’s actually how I have the wonderful clients I have now, and I’m very thankful. Anyway, it is better for all of us if we split the crumb.
PS: This spring I’ll be in London and can’t wait to go Underground to see if I run across any other mice fighting for their livelihoods. We are all in this together!
PPS: We never made it to London because of the COVID-19 pandemic–hopefully someday!