I was enjoying a quiet walk a few years ago. As I approached one of my neighbors’ homes, I could hear a garden hose running. Not wanting to get wet, I crossed the street. Glancing to my right, I could see the hose running at full strength into a large planter.
The planter was overflowing and the water draining down the side and into the driveway. A little stream was running right down the other street. Crossing back across the street, I thought I would turn off the hose. Clearly someone left it on by mistake. Only a few steps later, I saw my neighbor.
“Hi. I thought I would turn off your hose,” I said.
“Oh, I’m watering everything a lot extra today,” before adding, “We’re going away for a few weeks so I wanted to water in advance. It’s going to be really hot this week!”
“Not sure it works that way,” I said, smiling. “I’m happy to water everything for you,” I offered.
After he declined my offer, I shook my head and continued my walk.
This man thought that he was helping his flowers by drowning them.
He believed that overwatering plants today would solve the problem of scorching heat tomorrow. To this day, I still wonder whether he was serious.
I thought about that and how I have worked with people.
Wrong Messenger. Wrong Message. Wrong Timing.
How often have I overwatered? I think I’m helping so I share something and keep going. But the recipient couldn’t absorb it all.
Maybe he was ready for a concept or two, and I delivered an entire seminar. As a result, he didn’t get much at all.
Later, I’m surprised he didn’t get it. I spent an hour sharing this with him. Before I can place blame on him, I realize it isn’t his fault. It’s mine. I’m like my neighbor who thinks that he can pour it on in advance.
Sharing too much drowns a listener, destroying opportunities for growth. Giving too much often hurts more than it helps. Sharing at the wrong time does not work, either. Maybe it’s not my place, not the right time, or not the right message.
Later that month, I walked back past my neighbor’s house. You already know what happened:
The plants died. The grass was brown. The flowers didn’t make it.
How often do you share too much? Wanting to help, you pour it on until the person loses all interest.
When someone offers help, take it. When you reach the right amount, stop.