Ever heard the following?

“Why me? I didn’t ask for this.”

“This isn’t my problem.”

“Fools rush in.”

I’ve said them all.  It’s no secret that I have a tendency to get excited and rush into a situation where I see something amiss.  I have this strong urge to “fix” whatever is broken, unjust or wrong.  Wrong, in my opinion.  I also have a tendency to speak-out and state my opinion during the same situations.  This tendency has created problems for me that I have made worse by not stepping back, taking a good long breath and taking time to truly assess the situation.  I have found out that I wasn’t always correct in my assessment of the issues.  Or even in my solution to the perceived problem.

I have a strong desire to be a problem solver.  You know the type, the go-to guy, the person with the plan, etc.  My intentions were good, but, with this quick response/problem-solving/jump to conclusion type of leadership it’s easy to be wrong in the assessment of the original “issue”.  Thereby resulting in inaccurate advice or creating a much worse problem than originally existed.  Is every issue a real problem?  Is every issue something that I need to be involved in?  Really?

I once heard a professor give a lecture on professionalism and how to keep yourself from being drawn into dramas that you might not need to be involved in.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the professor’s name or even the class.  However I do remember the gist of the lecture.  Simply put, every “problem” can be put into one of three buckets.  What I now call the “bucket theory”

Bucket #1: My Problem – This problem is something that directly impacts me and/or is something that I am directly responsible for.  I have an obligation to deal with this to the best of my ability.

Bucket #2: Someone-else’s Problem – Yes, this issue might be a problem for someone else, however, it is not a problem that I need to deal with directly.  I might be willing to advise them in dealing with their problem, but that does not make it my problem.  Not to be insensitive here, but way to often other people want to make their problems our problems.  Why take on that burden?

Bucket #3:  No Problem – Confusing?  Not really.  How often do hear people stressing over something that seems to be so minor and inconsequential that you stand there shaking your head?  Example:  The KC Royals have lost so much talent from last year’s league championship team that they might not make it back to the series this year.  Is this issue important to the Royals players, leadership and ownership?  Of course. Is this important to you?  Maybe it is, but is it worth spending your valuable time fretting about?  I doubt it.  Is it important to me?  Nope.

How do I focus on my bucket while not allowing others to draw me needlessly into the second and third buckets?  The strategy itself is remarkably simple, however, somewhat against human nature.  It takes nothing more than pausing, breathing, letting all those involved in the situation speak their mind and explain their understanding of the issue.  Then make my decision… which bucket does this belong in?  After that the rest is simple, of course assuming it isn’t in my bucket!

What does this “bucket theory” have to do with CBA and our Kansas bankers?  Actually more than you might think.  One example: We constantly get requests asking for our involvement in legislative issues both State and Federal that may or may not be relevant to our mission.  When we do get a request for assistance our Board of Directors asks the question, “Does this fall under our mission?”  If yes, it goes into bucket number one and we jump in.  If no, it goes into either bucket number two and we evaluate if we should assist or bucket number three and we don’t need to deal with it… not our problem!

Why do we get so many requests for assistance?  We have successfully fought hard in Topeka and DC for the recognition that Community Banks are not the same as Wall Street Banks.  With that hard-fought recognition comes the issue that everybody now claims to be a “community banker” and no one is an investment advisor, online lender or large bank banker.  If in doubt as to this fact, just ask any one of the twenty Kansas community bankers that joined me on the Hill at this year’s ICBA Washington Policy Summit.  We ran into two separate groups lobbying our Kansas congressional delegation claiming to be “community bankers” from Kansas.  Funny, but I thought that was who WE were!!!

The Community Bankers Association of Kansas is here for one purpose with one single mission.  Support our Kansas community banks so that they can serve their communities!

One Mission… Community Banks