Earlier this year, I signed up for Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive” study group put on by the VEL institute. Much like all of my recent choices this was a purely intuitive move on my part. Correspondingly, much like all of my intuitive choices this seemed to be a waste of time until it wasn’t.
Given my projections, at first the book seemed to me like a blue print of all that is wrong with big business: The relentless pursuit of doing more, no matter the costs. And perhaps to put it more bluntly, a guide on how to be the most effective corporate drone you can:)
However, as I listened to my book buddies describe the relevance of the book in their lives I began to scratch my head. I was thinking to myself, what’s wrong with you people? Which then turned to, maybe it is me with whom something is wrong? Classic binary thinking trap.
That’s when my stubbornness disadvantage-advantage came into play. I thought that since I signed up by choice, I will honor my commitment!
Instead of jamming the law of being down people’s throats, I decided to see if I can build on the concepts that were being discussed. So in particular, during the chapter 5 discussion (First things first) one of the group members described his bewilderment with organizing volunteers at his church. Long story short, a lot of them didn’t show up and he struggled to make do with the ones that did.
Much good advice was given and I decided to add on the concept of SFDs (Shitty First Drafts) which I picked up from Brene Browns’s recent book. This is nothing more than our ego’s tendency to make up the worst story possible when people don’t meet our expectations. After considering all that was said, my newly made friend said that he will approach his volunteer challenge from a place of concern …
Then it hit me like a wall of bricks! At our second to last meeting, I came across the following sentence: “The effective decision-maker, therefore, always assumes initially that the problem is generic” That really got me thinking…
To be totally honest, I still tend to make mountains out of the mole hills that I just quite simply don’t feel motivated to do. More specifically, the number crunching that I have to do at my current work, taxes, or cleaning my house … the list goes on and on. As such, I find myself zoning out and kicking the can down the road till the pressure of last minute deadlines to get these chores done.
This simple quote made me realize that by blowing generic problems out of proportion, in my mind, I was simply giving myself an excuse to delay taking action on items that I convinced myself would take more deliberation/preparation.
The best way to handle these “epic problems” is the same way I’ve been handing all other ones, which is by chipping away at them bit at a time. At least when it comes to me, once I get going, I almost always realize just by how much I overestimated the amount of effort it would take to finish the task. My own proof to the validity of the following truth nugget: Clarity comes from action!
Enter our last book session. The friend with the volunteer problem came back with a testimony of his own SFDs. As it turns out, one of the volunteers who failed to show up called him later with an apology mentioning that he had a minor stroke … but will be back next weekend for sure!
Human doing and being can definitely co-exist. In fact, for best results, it is highly recommended;)
How do you treat your problems? Is there a benefit to rebranding them as generic?