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The Daily Paradox

Start something difficult

How often have we said “I’ll just deal with the incoming emails, WhatsApps, LinkedIns, Facebooks and a few more social sites I follow, tidy up the screen, ditch the scams and spams, and update the crypto protection. Then I’ll be ready to tackle The Big Job (TBJ). This TBJ’s been around for a while but I’ve been too busy to handle it. It needs a lot of thought, some quite complex sorting and a solution to the question ‘which is the best form of index after Google?’. I’ll probably have to edit a number of old, out-of-date files as well.”

It’s something everyone faces and it’s all very logical – but tomorrow never comes. It is just another day of clearing the path for TBJ, getting everything settled so we can concentrate. Undivided attention is a myth for most of us. When we have TBJ to do it is a dragon.

I faced TBJ on a few occasions in my career. Two show the problem and the solution. When landed with a corporate planning job without training or brief I tried to handle it alone, and failed. On another occasion my boss pressed me not to test the claims of a key high margin product for fear they wouldn’t stand up. Because I thought ignorance was more dangerous than claims failure, I went ahead with the tests. They confirmed our claims were legitimate.

Both of these situations really needed quick resolution but both could also have been dealt with ‘later’. Neither could actually safely tolerate delay. What made me deal sensibly with only one of them? First, personal confidence that what I thought I had to do was right. Second, my assessment of the time available to make up my mind. Decisions about learning seem time insensitive (no hurry) but they aren’t. Those about commercial claims seem more urgent. In fact, they, too, are just another part of education, so better for a prompt solution.

What should you do if faced with the challenge? Here’s how to start TBJ.

*Decide it is urgent even if it isn’t. You won’t move until you do so.

*Open or start a Folder with a MAIN File in it. Your own platform is essential.

*Describe the problem simply but fully and type it in the file.

*Describe and get the information you need in order to assess it.

*Describe your possible solution(s) roughly and briefly.

*Try what you think is the most likely solution. If it works, carry on.

*If your first solution fails, give thanks and try another.

*If you get no solution, ask for help.

*After TBJ, thank all who helped and give them credit.

Following this routine won’t make the problem any easier. It will get it solved. By reducing the process to a few, well defined steps you will motivate yourself to achieve the next one. You can always defer it, of course, but you will be reluctant to do that. If you have to delay it, you will return to solve it as quickly as possible.

It’s not a Sword of Damocles, more a Morsel of Mutton. Oh that leaders everywhere would follow it.

We might even get peace.

Good morning

John Bittleston

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1 March 2024