A Life Lesson Parshat Yitro: Delegate and Soar
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Yitro(Exodus 18-20)

Delegate and Soar

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, came to see Moses after he had heard all of the miracles that God had performed for the Jewish people. Jethro saw that a countless number of Jews were all standing in line to speak to Moses with questions they had. Jethro then told Moses:

"Why do you sit alone with all the people standing by you from morning to evening?... You will surely become worn out ... as well as this people that is with you...." (Exodus 18:14-17)


A LIFE LESSON

Jethro couldn't believe that Moses was the only person who was able to give advice and answers to the Jewish people. Jethro knew that this lack of hierarchy was destined for failure. So he advised Moses how to establish a system whereby the Jews would first go to other knowledgeable people and only seek out Moses for the most complicated and difficult questions and cases.

This method of delegation is in place in virtually every company, army, and government around the world. In fact, it's vital for any large entity to ever run effectively.

Even though the power of delegation can be just as effective in our own lives, many of us have a difficult time delegating certain important tasks to others. The reason for this is that the moment we ask someone else to do something for us we immediately lose a sense of control. Even though we all have very capable people around us, many of us live with a belief that the best outcome can only occur when we do something ourselves.

But ironically, the exact opposite is true. This is because the only way ever to achieve greatness is to be able to go "outside yourself" and be humble enough to realize that others are extremely capable and many times can actually do a better job then you can. Also, allowing others to assist you in the countless tasks that they're very capable of doing will immediately increase your self-esteem. This is because it will reign in your egocentric belief that you're the best one to do everything and demonstrate that you have the ability to trust others to get a job done. And all of this will then free you up to do the things that no one else really can't do.

Additionally, there are times when we would love to delegate something to someone else but the other person simply lacks the knowledge to do it. So we say to ourselves, "it's easier if I just do it myself." Again, this is a debilitating belief. While initially it might take some time to teach others a new set of skills or knowledge, investing a few minutes with them now will enable and empower them to know exactly what to do in the future.

So fight the urge, and delegate important tasks by asking someone to do something that you ordinarily would only do yourself. This will prevent you from "surely becoming worn out" and allow you to focus your energies only on the things that have the potential to make you great.

Published: February 11, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Fran Bendheim, January 22, 2011 12:44 AM

Greatness of Judiasm

I always felt that asking for help is a sign of weakness. So, as I did not want to be so perceived, I never or almost never asked (except, because I am a woman I do ask for directions!) for help. This often put a great strain on me and probably made life harder for those around me. I will try to not do that anymore. Thank you for this article.

(4) jeff, February 9, 2009 2:32 PM

Navigating through life

It took me 45 years to learn this life lesson. I learned you can't navigate through life without help from other. Regardless of my disposition which tells me not to trust others, I have to extend my trust and open myself to the help and support of others. Once I come to terms with this principle my life becomes so much more peaceful and I feel lighter as a person.

(3) Shiri, February 5, 2007 7:12 AM

Letting go, so I can begin to trust another.

I have a co-worker that believes that I cannot do my job. She tells my supervisor and her superiors how she feels about my work.I am short on time today, too many obligations. I have been worrying about how I can get them all done. there is one thing that my co-worker could do to help me, but I have been reluctant to ask for fear she will report yet another thing I can't do. Your midrash on this portion inspires me to allow my peer to help, even though I fear that it may make me appear in a bad light. Maybe, Moses had the same problem. People criticizing his work and calling him incompetent behind his back.It's hard to let go. What if they are right? By asking for help I may be proving them right. It wouldn't be the first time that Moses doubted his own abilities. He just needed someone to help him to learn to let go.

(2) Janet, February 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Just to let you know that I found this article very interesting and relevant for me. This last Thursday I had a progress meeting with a Dayan at the Beth Din to see how I was doing. I am studying for conversion to the Jewish faith. I thought I had prepared what I had to learn, but when I was faced with the short but taxing interview he gave me I also wondered whether I would ever remember enough to get through this life-changing experience at 62 years old. Your article helped me to realise that this was G-d's way of testing me to see if I have it in me to continue.
Thank you
Janet


(1) Anonymous, February 13, 2006 12:00 AM

Adam, amu'sh,

Thanks for the great weekly insights, I often use them at the shabbos table.

I accept your point about the importance of delegation, but you do somewhat seem to imply that Moshe had a egocentric and humility problem...

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