I Wouldn’t Be So Late If… (Part 1)
February 15, 2006
I Wouldn’t Be So Late If… (Part 1)
“Omigod, what happened to you?” asked my friend Jenny when we saw each other after dropping off our 4th-graders at school yesterday. My shoulder was heavily bound with a most impressive arm sling. It was throbbing like crazy, but the attention that my fancy sling garners me everywhere in town is almost worth it. Sympathy is a neat thing – everyone pouring love and attention at you after only one brief glance.
(By the way, Jenny Michaels MD is a top psychiatrist specializing in chemical dependency. Her husband Basil Michaels is one of the best plastic surgeons in Massachusetts. If you’re alcoholic and need a face lift, they’re the ones for you.)
I replied, “I was walking in the woods with my kids, when suddenly a large bear leaped out from behind a tree! I seized it in a death-grip headlock, and punched it in the nose repeatedly while yelling for the kids to escape. The bear gave a mighty struggle and as it tossed me left and right, I wrenched my shoulder. But you should have seen how I beat up that bear!! I gave it the biggest bloody nose you ever saw!”
Jenny was most impressed. It’s not every day you get to tell a tall tale like this one to a beautiful doctor, and besides – it sounds a lot better than “I slipped on the ice in my driveway while taking out the garbage, because I was in a hurry for a 9am conference call,” which is what really happened.
I read the radiologist report of my MRI to Basil (the spousal plastic surgeon) which described the injury in these words: “Laminar tear of the supraspinatus tendon. Complete tear of the subscapularis tendon with retraction. Medial dislocation of the long head of the biceps. Joint effusion. Large tear of the inferior glenohumeral ligament. Soft tissue edema/swelling of the axillary region. Bone contusion involving the greater tubosity region.” (Yes, this is what happens when you fall, twisting your arm behind your back 90 degrees, and dislocating the arm bone out of the shoulder socket, essentially tearing all the anterior muscles/tendons and ligaments off the bone.)
“Holy smokes,” said Basil. “You really tore it up! That sounds really bad!”
“Yeah I replied, but you should have seen the bloody nose on the bear. I’ll do anything to save my kids.” (I figured I still had a day or so to milk the bear story, before the embarrassing truth about the ice and the garbage pail really made its way around town.)
“Yeah, yeah, I heard. But it’s too bad about the garbage and icy driveway. I heard you had to postpone a big consulting engagement. Think of how many years you could have hired someone to put your garbage out for you with the lost income.” Basil must have read a few articles about outsourcing.
So much for milking the bear story. Basil knew that I had to postpone a consulting gig in Chicago so I could get the MRI. The client had shifted to Agile methods for its large projects and hired me to benchmark their time-to-market and quality improvement against productivity statistics from our worldwide database of 7,000+ completed projects. It was the first time I had rescheduled a client engagement in 18 years. All because I was in a rush to do too many things at one time. I hate when that happens.
They say that you teach best what you need most to learn. I once wrote an article entitled “I Wouldn’t Be So Late If I Weren’t In Such a Hurry”. The gist of the article is that trying to run at breakneck speed in today’s Internet Age can actually slow you down. Even if you don’t break your neck, you can really smash up your shoulder. I’ve seen hundreds of projects that have crashed and burned because managers try to cram too much work into too tight of a deadline. The attempt to accelerate too fast drives the team to things that result in self-destructive outcomes. After a while, the universe bonks you on the head, and forces you to slow down.
Why? Because there’s a rule in cosmos that says “There are times that ‘fast’ can actually be slow. If you stop to think about it, you can discover a hidden secret: slowing down just a little bit can actually allow you to go fast – without breaking your neck, or putting you on the sidelines from tearing up your shoulder.”
So there you have it…