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6- SitWithTheMess

"It's still a wrestling match with myself most every time …"

'Projects' tend to spawn messes. What might have been envisioned as a straight-forward, even trivial effort manages to somehow find its share of complications. The easier it seems to be at first, the more complicated it's likely to become, if only because the expectations we set couldn't help but leave everyone wide open for some big surprises. Almost any hill looks less steep from the foot of it, also less tall. It's not until one gets about halfway up that any truer nature of the effort comes into focus. Mentioning these likely complications at the beginning will usually earn one the label of Chicken Little. Nobody will fondly remember your earlier cautions later, either.

Some new mess seems to be delivered to your door with each fresh dawn, each pleading for a speedy response. Few deserve a quick, reactive intervention, though, and not just because these tend to complicate messy situations.
They need some reflection first, an opportunity to appear as more than the hair fire they mostly aren't. My sixth Ethical Responsibility reminds me that I might have an obligation to get to know this latest urgency before trying to ameliorate it; to Sit With The Mess, to better understand its nature before attempting to dispatch it. Of course, following this advice might well leave me appearing deaf, dumb, and blind to the latest crisis, though I'm quite diligently listening, thinking, and looking it right in the eye while apparently lazing there. I'm Sitting With The Mess.

In the best case, my SittingWithTheMess might lead to a useful insight about it, by far the most helpful insight might lead me to conclude that what first appeared to be a genuine mess might instead represent a previously unappreciated form of order, needing no more than a squint and an ounce of radical acceptance to neutralize its toxicity. Those situations needing some intervention might be more effectively addressed after I develop some deeper understanding of their nature. Both fools and 'project' managers tend to rush into situations, each wanting to be seen as responsive, though early intervention often trades effectiveness for responsiveness. One can too easily create a Doodle Bug Hole where frantic effort merely digs the hole ever deeper.

Sealing these situations, there's really no way to determine the true urgency of any mess. I know from experience that past apparent urgencies have often (usually?) proven illusory. I could have taken a tad more time responding and perhaps engaged more usefully, though usefulness falls far down the hierarchy when everyone's watching and quietly screaming for some immediate reaction. I'm learning to presume that most messes need more reflection than reaction, though I'm not beyond egging myself into premature response. It's still a wrestling match with myself most every time, with mindfulness poorly favored by the bookies watching the match. Still, I sometimes, buoyed by my sixth Ethical Responsibility, manage to SitWithThe(latest)Mess just long enough to understand its nature before jumping in to deal with it.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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