The Fire Alarm

It isn’t your job to put out every fire you ever see. But you shouldn’t feel like you can’t pull the fire alarm.

When you see a fire, your first instinct is probably to either ring a bell or put it out, depending on the kind of person you are. Even if you’re a natural problem-solver, some fires will simply be out of your ability range, and you’ll alert the experts. But what would you do if the experts yelled at you?

What if they told you to put it out yourself, and stop bothering them? What if they blamed you for starting the fire? Well, you’d rapidly learn to stop pulling the fire alarm. Unless it was your problem directly, you’d at least hesitate next time, wouldn’t you?

We want people to alert us to problems. We want people to act as our early warning systems, but they won’t do that if we punish them for it. So if someone brings a problem to your attention that truly is your problem, don’t get upset with the messenger. They did you a favor.

And if you’re on the other side of that, remember – there will always be people who will appreciate you pulling the fire alarm for them. Those are the relationships to cultivate. They’ll do the same for you.

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