My brother and I LOVED baseball. We grew up in Oklahoma but we could watch Harry Caray on WGN or Bob Horner and the Braves on TBS just about every day of the week. We collected baseball cards. We bought the Beckett magazine that told you the value of a given baseball card. We were OBSESSED.
My mother came home from work one day. She gave firm instructions to my brother and me to clean our rooms. We were so into the baseball the game at the time we just let her orders bounce off our shoulders.
Five minutes passed.
She gave the same instructions. Again, we just looked at the TV.
What my mother did next took was astonishing. Here is the sequence of events that took place:
My mother literally took the following actions –
- Opened the back door
- Unplugged the TV
- Carried the TV to the back door
- Hurled the TV onto the concrete patio in the backyard
- Looked at us and asked us calmly to PLEASE clean our rooms
With the TV smashed into pieces in the backyard, my brother and I expressed a great deal of SHOCK and AWE. We were puzzled. We could NOT figure out how we went from watching the Chicago Cubs on TV to the last item in the sequence . . . our family television in pieces in the backyard. We just didn’t see the hints that took place between the questions from our mother and the TV in pieces.
It was no secret. The hints were there all along. My brother and I just chose to ignore them. BAD IDEA. In this case, really BAD IDEA. I think it took a few months to get another television into the house. We were at the mercy of our dad to pay for another one.
Was the result of the TV in pieces based on irrational thinking? Yeah, sure. But as a parent of three boys I can tell you that there are times that I FEEL like taking extreme measures, and sometimes you feel like your back is against the wall. I’m sure in that very moment, my mother didn’t think through all the options she had and went with the first one that popped into her head.
I write about paying attention as a project manager. I also write about staying CALM under pressure. A very wise friend of mine uses the analogy of a duck. On the surface, a duck seems so calm, just out for a swim. But UNDER the surface is where the magic is happening, those webbed feet are killing it, always moving forward.
Here’s my point. Find the subtleties that are always happening. Open your eyes, ears, and heart.
The TV in pieces is certainly an extreme example but I’ve seen a lot of projects end up shattered in pieces because the organization just didn’t SEE something coming.
Please share your thoughts. Have you had a project management scenario where a solution was right in front of you but you failed to see it right away?
You can bet that I listened to my mother the next time she asked me to clean my room!