Doing Too Much

A customary question in a job interview is, “What are your weaknesses?” The customary answer is, “Sometimes I take on too much work,” “I try too hard,” or some variation thereof. I’ve said this myself. I’ve had others say it to me. It’s part of the game of interviewing for a job. You’re trying to present yourself as supremely competent and confident (a deception, in other words). The interviewer is trying to get behind the façade. You turn the tables by presenting a defect as a feature. (“If you hire me, I’ll work so hard that you’ll have to order me to go home.”)

Trying too hard is a weakness, but maybe not in the way you think. I’ve seen lots of people who “do too much.” They take on projects when they shouldn’t. They go off and work on their own instead working with a team. They shoot too high and fall short. They reveal character flaws: pride, a desire to control, neediness.

I understand all that, but recently I learned something else about trying too hard—from a basketball coach. The coach is Bob Huggins of West Virginia. He was complaining about players who “do too much.” They dive for a loose ball and get out of position. They take a bad shot instead of passing. They’re too aggressive on defense. Huggins said that these players are selfish. Then he said this: “People who try to do too much are taking the easy way out.”

I’d never thought about it that way, but it seems right. It’s easier to do it yourself than to work with others. It’s easier to say “yes” to extra work than to have discomfort that saying “no” would bring. It’s easier to keep control than to do things someone else’s way.

The honest answer to the job interview question might be, “Sometimes I take the easy way out.”

About Jim Manney 761 Articles
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is Ignatian Spirituality A to Z. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

10 Comments on Doing Too Much

  1. This is not a well thought out or written argument. The entire concept of playing games at interviews is shallow as is the concept of trying to interpret and judge those who really work hard but tirelessly for what they believe. I know many people who work too hard so to speak but they are doing God’s work and are certainly not selfish.

    • That is an interesting thought to file overbusyness under sloth; however, when you think of it, it is so much easier to fill our time by doing than to stop and be present to the Lord.

      Thanks for that thought.

    • Bev I am hearing what you say “sloth” the desert fathers and mothers wereso clear in what they/we should be attending to Stillness and silence is a way of bring our Lord nearer. And like you I am trying

  2. It seems the real point is not so much doing [or not doing] too much, rather why are you doing what you are doing [or not doing]. There are days in our lives when there is a lot to do, and other days where there isn’t as much to do. The question: what is the Lord inviting me to do [or not do] and am I saying ‘yes’ to that? Doing what the Lord wants done—it being a lot or a little – is the magis that brings greater glory to God.

  3. I guess it’s easier to “drown in busy-ness than stay quiet and just “be”. I had that experience myself. But Thanks to the Lord he didn’t gave up on me. my situation and surrounding forced me to appreciate every bit of that boredom ( feeling ) inside of me until the day that I realized it was from there “awareness ” is born and I now so deeply happy, peaceful and can’t live without solitude.

  4. As my spiritual director would say: “the quality of your “Yes” is all the “No’s” that make your “Yes” possible.” AMDG

  5. “Doing too much,” is a way of avoiding issues. I struggle with a project, so I allow myself to get “over-involved” with details that can be part of the project (therefore I am still a “team player”) yet in the end have little bearing on what I need to address. But, “Boy, I am so busy.”

  6. In my life I have been found guilty of this time and time again. Only recently have I come to learn that my body really is the Temple of the Holy Spirit and by doing too much I do hard to that Temple. Living now as a hermit the Lord has taught me my limits, wow, do I ever have limits!

    • Many times I do “take the easy way out” and take it upon myself. I am SO Blessed with an amazing family and support system, slowly Christ has worked these individuals into my life and I am empowering them to use their talents and strengths. This is a PROCESS that takes TIME! But it is so amazing to witness the rewards. Thank you Lord!

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