Monday, April 11, 2022

Passing The Buck (MY Eng #46)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lies', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', don't judge a book its cover', 'reinvent the wheel', 'shifting gears', 'throwing in the towel' and 'jump on the bandwagon'.

Life is busy. Work never ends. Stuff keeps piling up on our plates.

We've all got roles and responsibilities. Some are easy to discharge, some consume every bit of our time and energy. It's tough to even catch a break and have a Kit-Kat (no, this isn't a sponsored content, Kit Kat is really cool).

We can't take on the burdens of the world upon our own shoulders. Everyone has their limits. We can't be out saving the world all the time. Press hard enough, and we'll eventually crack under pressure.

So what can be done? Well, the solution is simple...

* * *

Yes, shift the burden away to someone else -pass the buck.

Of course, half of the problem at work arises when people keep passing the buck and the buck doesn't stop passing around. No one wants to own up. Everyone is suddenly a tai-chi expert.

But buck-passing isn't a bad thing in itself. When done fairly, it can increase efficiency. Specialisation. Everyone focus on what they do best. If a task falls on your lap that can be done better and faster by someone else, then pass it on by all means.

Of course, this can create a bottleneck. Work starts being diverted to the hardest and smartest of workers. More work is the reward of good work. Yes, that's the unfair part of life.

Indeed, some people can become experts in passing the buck. Work on their in-tray gets immediately placed on their out-tray. They're basically a postman. Their job is to pass stuff from person to another. And ironically, they get rewarded with less work and stress than those of us burning the midnight oil doing actual work...

* * *

Yes, life is unfair as much as it is busy. Not everyone carry their equal share of burden. Some of us toil in the hot sun, some operate in the shadows.

Still, it's up to us to take control of our workflow. Think of your capacity as a system of valves. The trick is to open and shut valves, at the right time, at the right volume.

We're all masters of our own destiny. Don't take on too many buckets of water on our shoulders. Your back is more precious than any amount of buck.

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