Friday, October 11, 2013

Complexity vs Perception

Perception is reality.  The first impression is what counts the most and often has a huge impact on a relationship, right or wrong.  But relationships are not what I want to really get after.  The real perception I'm talking about is how we look at what we do and how we go about doing it.  And it is that first impression of the task, that does make a world of difference.

Over the last year, my life has been "interesting".  I think I painted that picture pretty well in the first post.  But it got "better".  Trust me.  I had to do something about it and had to force a shift in how I saw my situation.  Starting to study again on my own, constantly reading and writing has done more for me than I think I anticipated.  Over the last few months life has started to calm down a bit and I'm doing a lot more reflecting.  Trying to make sense of what I've gone through and what I've learned.  Believe it or not, at one point in my life, some one called me cerebral.  It caught me off guard based on my propensity for pulling shenanigans and losing my temper; but I'd like to get back to acting more like that man said I was.

First, let's look at how we look at a task and the time we give to complete that task.  Parkinson's Law states that work expands to fill the time available for it's completion.  Simply put, if we allot a week to do something that should take a few hours, it will take a week.  That mundane task becomes ever more complex to justify the time allotted.  At best it really is nothing more than a psychological effect.  At worst, it's a result of bureaucracy.  We create buffers, over plan, add too many resources, stress out over it; whatever.

Here's a link to a pretty good article to look at this from a civilian or managerial point of view.

But let's break this down like a fraction, Barney level.

All you need is a Task, Purpose, Standard (to include a time hack) and an Intent.  It's pretty bare bones but I'm pretty sure at one point or another, that's all we got from our commander or platoon leader or whatever.

Don't get me wrong, planning is important.  But don't over think things and always, always ALWAYS come back and spot check.  The execution and the plan.

Now let's look at Multi-Tasking.  I'm convinced that the ability to do this is a myth.  You can do one thing great or you can do 2 things half-assed.  That's my opinion anyways and if you do some research, there's a lot of others that will support me.  So let's look at the next topic.

Uni-Tasking (ability to prioritize):  This does not mean that you tell everyone to pound sand and you can only do one thing at a time.  What it means is you prioritize the tasks at hand, focus on one and knock it out to the best of your ability.  Then you re-prioritize what's left and repeat that process.  Yes, you can stop and shift your focus to another task as priorities deem.  But whatever you're doing, that is what you're doing.  I know this sounds a bit confusing but it is what it is.

Here's an example.  I'm writing an email, someone comes in and wants to talk.  I can (a) ask them to please wait while I finish the email, complete that email and then give them my undivided attention.  (b) Stop writing the email, focus on them and come back to the email later.  (c) I can keep typing and allow the person to talk, then have to go back through the email before sending it or risk looking like some half-wit with brats for fingers; meanwhile, that person's issue was only half understood.  Sure, you can do both, to a degree.  But it will yield greater results if you focus on one.

Essentially what you're doing is maintaining control.  If you have more control, you tend to be more calm and perceive things differently.  And you don't even have to be forceful with it.  Diligent and perhaps assertive, but not forceful.  When we are faced with demands and stress for whatever reason, we feel like we're not in control and therefore lack security.  Which creates more stress.  From a personal standpoint, I'm a control freak.  If I don't feel safe, I'm constantly on the defensive and the GAF meter is constantly pegged.  By sticking to this and letting everyone else know that this is how I work, has been a life saver.  I'm calmer, fewer folks bug me, I get a bunch of stuff done AND I miraculously have more time to help other people.

There will always be competing priorities and it can seem overwhelming.  If you let it become that way.  That's not saying you have to do everything yourself, but it's your butt so it's probably be a good idea to be involved and know what's going on.  SPOT CHECK.  Like any other mission or task you've done in the past, life is the same way.  Bills, jobs, taking out the trash and doing the dishes.  Nothing is cut and dry and that's ok.  Hell, I'd be bored if it were.  We thrive on a level of chaos and we love to be challenged.

It's like being on that road march late at night and you see that blinking tower that's the end of your misery.  You've been staring at it for hours and it just isn't getting in closer.  Perception.  You know it's there and you know if you keep moving, you'll get there but every step seems to hurts more than the last.  And then you finally get there and cuss that light for the next week or the next road march.

Any transition in life is difficult and ours is very much so.  But a little planning and a lot of patience goes a long way.  Sooner or later it's gonna happen.  Whether you retire or separate, change jobs, or move.  And the person that makes it harder than anyone else is yourself.

An old paratrooper told me a very long time ago "Trust your equipment as well as your training and never hesitate in the door."  And we've always heard to push through the "fatal funnel" because it is the most dangerous place in the small portion of your world at that moment. Once you commit, that's it.  Stick to it and get it done.  It might be harder than you thought.  But what are you gonna do, quit?  I didn't think so.


Remember the TLPs and the 5 Principles of Patrolling.

Check or Hold?

"Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor."

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