Sandbagging Joy

Sandbagging Joy

A friend of my wife’s texted me a few weeks before Christmas.

“Not sure if you’re in need of gift ideas for Jen, but I was with her at a friend's house tonight where she saw a ring she loved.”

I responded, “And this ring ... it was ... less than $10?”

  um ... no.”

Jokes stopped, I met with the jewelry maker and bought the ring.

The next day, my wife’s friend called. “I heard you got the earrings she liked too. Now you have Christmas and Valentine’s Day taken care of!”

“I’m giving her both tonight.”

“Why?”

“If she can enjoy these now, why would I hold them back for a couple of holidays?”


I’m not a fan of sandbagging joy.

sandbagging (verb): holding back in order to gain an advantage

If I can make someone happier faster, I like to do it. But how many times do we hold back for no advantage?

If I'd waited to give my wife the gift on Christmas Day, I would have been doing it more to knock out a task given to me by industry and social convention than to make my wife happy. Not really an advantage to me and unnecessary delayed enjoyment for her.

It’s a little like when I hear someone tell me they’ll be sharing one of my books at a company meeting in two months. I’m grateful we have an opportunity to be a part of their work, but I always think, “What if your people were introduced to the 212 or Cross The Line ideas this afternoon or took the book home to read tonight? They’d have a two-month jump on the concept and be able to put it to use now rather than later.”

There’s your advantage.

A few common but less obvious sandbagging examples...

  • Waiting for the start of a new hour/day/week/month/quarter/year to begin something important
  • Putting off a needed discussion (good or bad) until a regularly-scheduled meeting
  • Withholding payment of a well-earned bonus for an arbitrary date
  • Starting a new employee on a Monday when you could use them sooner
  • Setting a completion goal for the end of the week that you might be able to get done by 9:45 on Thursday morning

With anything, remember to ask yourself, “Why not now?”

There might be a valid reason. Just be sure.

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