Yvonne wrote a follow-up question to last week’s post.

Thanks, Anastacia… I too love the front seat. And in that particular instance, there wasn’t a question or a problem… But what if there had been? Who navigates the bus while we’re off duty? Will there be instances when we do need to break our standards to respond to a true problem?

Great question!

To me, this goes directly to the distinction between allowing people to depend on us and allowing them to be dependent upon us.

With regard to the relationship with clients, they should never be dependent. We should be helping them be free thinkers and to be able to run their businesses and handle things when we’re not available. Keeping with the bus analogy, no one can navigate around the clock; more importantly, the driver needs to be able to manage without us.

The way that you can help your clients be independent—and strengthen their businesses in the process—is by making sure that you have current procedural documents and that the clients know how to access them when they need to. Then, when you’re not available, the clients have everything they need to either do what needs doing, or ask someone else to dive in and make it happen. And resultantly, there’s no dependence, and you shouldn’t need to rescue.

But that wasn’t your real question, was it? You wanted to know if there are times when we need to relax a standard to respond to a problem. In my mind, no. You shouldn’t ever “need” to, but you might “choose” to.

Relaxing a Standard to Help With a Problem- Maybe.

Needing to is something that’s caused by lack of appropriate support, or is due to something internal and unnecessary like fear or guilt. None of those are good reasons to do it, and the presence of these things in work cause sacrifice and suffering, both things that have no place in work.

On the other hand, choosing to (or we could think of it as wanting to) is driven by healthy internal motivators like love and generosity. Choosing to do something largely happens when there’s an abundance of space, freedom, and ease and causes no sacrifice or suffering.

Another thing that’s worth considering here is the relationship and the specific client. If the relationship is terrific, and the client is generally someone who stands on her own two feet, doesn’t ask you to relax your standard often—if at all—and once in a blue moon has a serious problem she can’t navigate without you, it’s fine for you to help, if you’re free to make that choice.

Ultimately, the responsibility for the bus and everything about it and its direction belongs to the driver, never you.