Falling to the Sin of Omission

Falling to the Sin of Omission

It isn’t the thing you do, dear;
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.
The Sin of Ommission, Margaret Sangster

What Value are You Providing?
One of the questions I use to remind our team members to continually evolve is this:

If we took your salary, and placed it on Facebook ads, what would deliver more value for the team? If you can’t say confidently, and objectively identify why you’re confident, that you would deliver more value for your role than online ads, you better be incredibly concerned because that means you’re abilities are no better than a line of code. If we can’t deliver greater value than a piece of code, that costs less, causes no drama, is immensely efficient, and constantly upgrades, then we must brace ourselves for obsolescence. 

It’s usually a quiet room after I remind ourselves of this reality. If we don’t find ways to constantly and consistently deliver value in better and better ways, we will find ourselves irrelevant, useless, and obsolete. 

Would you eat in a restaurant with food quality that gets worse? Nope.

Would you watch the movies of an actor that constantly strikes out on Rotten Tomatoes? Maybe not.

Would you ride a car brand that constantly breaks down? Never.

Would you collect the novels of a writer that bores to death? You wouldn’t waste your time.

Why then do we expect the people around us, our managers, colleagues, and clients to understand our lack of results?

Many times I find that a lot of people worry about whether they’re loved or appreciated or valued, yet never really looking at the needs of others and finding creative ways to meet those needs. It’s a very vain, very self-centered approach to feeling loved. It stems from a belief that “I’m awesome. People should recognize it.” Instead, I encourage you to have a good look at what your organization needs and follow this up with an honest look of the value you’re bringing. Are your efforts, ideas, and output contributing to your company’s objectives in a meaningful way? If yes, you don’t need to worry about becoming obsolete. You’re really awesome. If not, be worried. You’re sure to be obsolete. 

One good way for you to know that you’re providing significant value is to know your company’s revenue and profit targets, and to know what your contribution is to achieving these things. If you don’t know, that’s a good sign you’re obsolete or will become obsolete. If you do know but don’t know how your contribute, you’re still obsolete. You need to know the big picture and how you fit in. It’s the same with the outside world. Too many people don’t feel appreciated but fail to understand that to be appreciated, there must be tangible things that are affecting others meaningfully and consistently.

There’s little value in showing up early for work once. There’s a lot of amazing momentum created when we show up early  and focused day in and day out.

There’s little value in handing a beggar a few coins. There’s sustained impact when we invest in teaching people how to fish (versus giving them the fish).

There’s little value in heavy lifting once in a while. There’s real strength development when we consistently workout.

There’s little value in arguing our value or feeling bad when others don’t see it. There’s real appreciation, real promotion, and real longevity when we are people who are constantly meeting the needs and desires of others.

If we won’t accept the lack of value others provide, why should others accept our lack contribution?

The simple point is: Know the value you are contributing, and cultivate it. It’s the only way to assure yourself of job security (or any role security for that matter).

The Sin of Omission
When my brothers and I were kids, my mother shared a poem with us called the Sin of Ommission. You can click on the link above to see the whole thing. The whole point of the poem is this: It’s not enough NOT to do wrong things. We need to do necessary things. It’s not enough not to be absent. It’s important that we make our impact felt. It’s not enough not to cause trouble. It’s important that we cause progress. It’s not enough not to ever be blamed for anything. It’s important that we take responsibility for things. The Sin of Ommission is committed when we don’t do the necessary things. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe selfishness, maybe it’s hurt, offense, guilt, fear, pride, or some other reason, but we are guilty for the good things we do not do, when it is within our power to do so. We are guilty for the justice we do not promote – even if we don’t commit a crime. We are guilty for our failure to help our companies succeed – even if we can argue we didn’t cause the failure. This means we’re always responsible for own actions and for our own results. 

Connecting what I just wrote about contributing value and the Sin of Ommission. I’d like to encourage you to care about your life’s results. When I say “care” I mean that with attention to detail, cultivate your life’s contributions. Find ways to increase the money you deploy for others. Get wiser and counsel others, and push them to be disciplined, not just inspired by your insight. A lot of people feel they deserve a good life because they don’t do anything wrong. As if living behaved merits us a good life. This isn’t true. Success comes from doing the necessary things such as working hard, disciplining ourselves, and constant learning, not from being able to say you didn’t do anything wrong. More important than never doing anything  wrong, is doing a lot of things right. Many people wonder why the state of their lives isn’t better when they’ve lived religiously, forgetting that the price of impact is not obedience to a formula, but dogged determination that leads to smarter attempts after smarter attempt despite the external forces that cause others to be apathetic or give up.

The memorable  part of the rhyme goes like this: 

It isn’t the thing you do, dear;
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

We can rationalize all we want about how the world should be better or how others should treat us, but until we move from being someone who fails to act because of all sorts of reasons, and until we become someone who keeps doing and doing and doing relentlessly, we’ll find our lives end in heartache at the setting of the sun.


About the Author

David Bonifacio Husband, Father, CEO of Bridge, Managing Director of New Leaf Ventures. #DB

Discussions from the Community.
  1. Gab says:

    Thanks to your message, it totally hit me in the heart. Its honestly true that being behave is really not enough. It really takes courage to do what is needed and what is right.

  2. Bob Barredo says:

    Thanks again for writing. I love how passionately you write. I intended this comment to be private but I couldn’t find how to react privately. Hopefully, comments are moderated before stuff are posted. Do whatever you think is wise about my comments. 🙂

    My comments below:

    When I was reading this, I couldn’t help but feel like an inferior person. If feels like my dad was scolding me, or a boss just had about enough to fire me. It also had parts where it felt like I was frustratingly talking to myself.

    While it is a good thing to make someone aware how good or how bad they contribute to a certain unit, I believe in giving value to a person regardless of how much he or she contributes. When one is valued, his or her contribution will grow in proportion to the value given to him or her.

    When I was a newborn, I didn’t really contribute much to our family unit. I peed whenever I felt like it. I pooed where-ever I felt like pooing. I cried most of the time. I didn’t express myself in understandable words. My parents however, valued me. They kept changing my diapers. They constantly bathed me. They fed me and held my feeding bottle while I lay there caring not if they had sleep that night. I’m not awesome.

    Then I became a toddler. I still pee in my diapers but before I do, I get to tell them “Mama wee-wee!” 🙂 I hold my own feeding bottle. I danced around like a little loon. Without me knowing it, I was making my parents happy. They valued my little achievement. I’m still not awesome but they made me feel like I was when they cheered me on. Sure, they could’ve bought an upgradeable dancing robot that they don’t have to feed, bathe nor change diapers for. For some reason they saw more potential in me more that a silly robot.

    I’m a man now, and I am independent from them. I am grateful that they valued me. Now it’s my turn to give to them. 🙂 Am I awesome now? I still think not, but I think giving them healthcards are pretty awesome right? yep that’s still far from what one may consider awesome but that has got to be something. 🙂

    This also works in a business perspective. I know of an undergraduate boy, who only knew very little about computers and how the internet works. He got hired in a local IT firm as a messenger. His boss spent time talking to him, getting to know him as a person. The boy didn’t graduate because they couldn’t afford further education. Boss found out about this and what he did was he gave him the opportunity to tinker with computer hardware. Eventually he was allowed to install operating systems to the said hardware. Now, the boy works as quality assurance personnel to the same company. Is it better that delivering mail and running errands? I don’t know. Maybe initially his efforts, ideas and output aren’t contributing much. I know he can still deliver mail and run errands; but now, that’s not all he can do for the company.

    like you said: There’s little value in handing a beggar a few coins. There’s sustained impact when we invest in teaching people how to fish (versus giving them the fish).

    Why would someone teach another how to fish if he didn’t value the person? Just a thought. 🙂

    All this to say that, it goes both ways. As a leader, we get to make people working with/for us aware how they perform on tasks. This is good as we always need a way to measure things. But as we measure others performance, we as leaders should look into our own performance the same way. I know it is quite cliche but I’m still going to say it. Real leaders lead by example.

    Jesus did the same to me. He gave me value and in response, I give value to the people He values.

    I know that my analogies may not fit perfectly with how your organization is setup but I hope I was able to show a different perspective on this matter. Maybe, just maybe we should look less on other’s sin of omission and scrutinize more our own sins of omission.

    • Thanks for your comment. First of all, the encouragement is for all of us to ask ourselves whether we provide value. If everyone made sure that they provide the necessary value their families, companies, and communities need, there would be no need to check up on them, and there won’t be any feelings of being talked down to, because we’re simply holding ourselves accountable. I’m thankful I had people who shared tough truths to me – which is why I share these tough truths as well.

      Second, your example about a child in a family is different in this sense: people are part of families by nature, but people join organizations, or should join organizations, because of an agreement to its mission and values. This means, the reason for a person being in the group is not nature but his agreement with the mission. If a person does not agree with the the mission and does not contribute value to achieving the mission, that person will hold the team back, and also holds himself back. He should instead be somewhere where he contributes value. Good leaders focus their teams (meaning the people in their teams), on achieving the mission.

      Your example of the boy who got promoted actually proves my point. If a person is diligent, continuously learns, and gets results, people are wise to invest in him. Why? Because their investment in him leads to growth. There’s a verse for this that goes: See a man who is diligent in their work they will serve before kings they will not serve before obscure men. You can also check the verses on sluggardly, which is basically someone who does not put the necessary work, and how it leads to poverty.

Thank you for reading my post. Please leave a reply.