Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do What You Can, Where You Can, When You Can

For those of you who are wondering what's up with this, it's a cartoon my friend Aaron Scott draws called "Two Leaf Clover" and today, in my current state of affairs (broken leg, limited movement, etc.) this was both funny and painful at the same time. I've come to really appreciate this in light of my recent events.

So often, there are a million things that vie for our attention and our limited resources. OK, a million things may be an exaggeration, but thousands of things is not, especially in this always on, always tuned in world. Where we spend out time and our energies says a lot about who we are as people. It certainly says a lot about me.

The danger we face with so many things that need to get done is we often end up doing very little, or in some cases, we end up doing nothing (analysis paralysis). In those instances, it can be amazing to see what happens when you stop and reconsider what you really should be doing.

For me, I had a chance to really reconsider all of this in the hospital. There I was, attached to a morphine drip, getting oxygen through a tube, and the most demanding task I could muster was making sure I was getting in my ten breaths on the breathing measurement apparatus each hour (something they do after general anesthetic to make sure the patient doesn't develop pneumonia after their surgery). If I ever wanted to discover what it felt like to genuinely be in a situation where I could get nothing done, that was it. It was the worst feeling ever. I felt totally useless.

Over the past few weeks, I've come to grips with the fact that I've had to learn to deal with progressively getting stronger and having the ability to move more and for longer periods. In all of that, there was a certain "clarity" I realized. Because I couldn't be in a million places, many of the things I always believed I had to be 100% on about, I was able to let go of. I gave my assistant scout leaders the ability to plan the meetings and direct the boys in my scout troop, because I couldn't do it even if I wanted to... and they've done a great job. The AST BBST class is underway right now, with two terrific assistant instructors helping me, and filling the blanks that I'm having trouble filling in at the moment. In some ways I feel bad about this, but in others, I feel great, because I'm giving them the chance to do what they need to do, their way, without my sticking my nose in everywhere... and they are oing a great job.

One of the discoveries with limited movement and having to drop so many things is that I've discovered there are other areas where I am able to finally put some attention to. I've been able to read a number of books and get into greater detail on them. Many of them are in beta format at the moment, so I won't be able to review them for awhile, but once they are released, I may have a glut of reviews to post :) ). I've had a chance to dig into my company's ways of using Cucumber and see unique ways of approaching tests and getting them to pass on different environments, which has helped me raise new questions about how we test, where we test and why.

It's interesting how many things we can accomplish when we put away the old adage "there just aren't enough hours in a day". That's a lie. There are enough hours. We all get the same 24, yet some people are masters at their craft while others seem to accomplish nothing day after day. Most of us fall somewhere in between. It's not that we don't have enough hours, it's that we make choices in those hours that go contrary to what our believed goals are (yes, I said "believed goals", as if we were to match our supposed goals with our actual output and what we actually spend out time doing, I'll bet many of us will see a disconnect). For me, I've had my world greatly shrunk, but that has actually been a blessing, too, as it's shown me the true length of a day, and how much can be accomplished when we plug in and get to it.

I'm by no means perfect, and yes, even in my current shrunken world, there are still plenty of diversions and time wasters, but they are also greatly constrained. I've no place to go, so commute is out of the equation. I cannot visit in person, so activities that require my physical presence cannot be accommodated now. This opens up literally hours of every day for those pursuits I said I never had time for before. I've come face to face with a golden opportunity; my world is focused in one place. My goals likewise are focused in one place. I may never get an opportunity like this ever again (and frankly, I don't want an opportunity like this ever again, broken bones are no fun!).

The simple fact is, for every good goal that needs to be completed, some other worthy thing will have to be sacrificed or delayed to make that good goal come to fruition. We can't have it all. Right now, I can't even have 10% of it all. But  we can do a little each day, or a lot each day, depending on what we are willing to give up to make the good goals come to be. Ultimately, it's all about doing what we can, where we can, an when we can, in the 24 hours each day we are allotted.
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