The Art of Procrastination

You know, I was thinking.  And, no, such activity is not that rare given the season of my life.  It is Sunday, and my “work plate” is rather full.  Not overflowing full, but that’s true only because of how the shit is arranged on my plate – which required a personal undertaking of no small measure.  You might think I was a high school football player during hell week having dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Piled high.

This begs a question, and I have many, as to why this is.  As an educator, I live for those few moments where a “focused and engaged” student passes through my field of vision.  You know, locked-on.  It happens, but not all that often.  But when it does, I marvel at the wake of success and progress that engaged student leaves behind.  Of course, that “wake” conveniently serves as a metaphorical equivalent of a mountain – a mountain that other students must navigate if they are to have a chance to wet their beak at the free enterprise fountain of opportunity.

So, what it the key difference among students?  Among anyone who is living life?  What separates the normal from the uncommonly normal?  I suggest it is the “Art of Procrastination”.  We can try to learn time management, digest project management techniques, do a Black Belt in Six Sigma, and earn a sigma that.  All good stuff really…it helps…  But, that ain’t it.  There are some things we can’t teach and some stuff we can’t learn.  We can try, and we do.  We are then called consultants or subject matter experts… Not a bad thing, really, you can make a living, but the majority of us are not “the one”.

Just who is “the one” and how did they earn that title?  Well, they are different.  They are wired, yet remain open systems.  They are prescriptive and creative at the same time.  The coup d’état – they can actually handle change – not fake it with a casual embrace, pun intended.  How?  Geez, I don’t know.  Look at me, my plate is piled high with things to do and I am writing this.

But I suspect, they have mastered procrastination – the last bastion of inefficiency.  Not mastered as in they do not procrastinate.  Rather, they have taken procrastination, the proclivity to postpone, to new heights.  A new discipline, really; “The Art of Procrastination.”  Such mastery promotes efficient, effective, creative, and focused behavior.  Their results come sooner, faster, better, cheaper, and all that.

So OK, these folks are different.  They possess the ability to discern the important from the urgent and when they have to guess, they guess right a lot more than wrong.  They are gifted to the degree of ordinary.  They are blessed and their most centered and observed quality is their humble nature.  And, most of all, they do not know they are truly special.

And that, folks, is a precious moment to witness.

Life and Physics

So, when seeking “life balance”, personal focus is often directed on establishing some basis of equilibrium – a stable, fixed, still, in control environment…  Makes perfect sense to me.  And then, of course, life happens…

In time and with an ample amount bruises indicating a life lived, one must discover (rediscover?), acknowledge, and reckon with a basic principle of physics  – that “balance requires movement”.

Geez, this conflicts with a premise or objective to seek and maintain a quality life that is nestled in some ongoing state of equilibrium.  Um, no…  Well, kind of, or maybe sometimes.  I don’t know.   When I look outside, things move around.  On the inside, not so much. An ongoing conundrum perhaps…

Customer Service and Spin the Bottle

So, yeah, customers are winners and losers in the game of “customer service”.  You expect, as a consumer, to have fate deal you some bad service now and then.  And, this is generally not a problem, so as long as the “bad” is equally parsed out among the many – the masses if you will.  In the economics of service delivery, there is equity in a virtual abstract pattern of poor customer service or random consumer abuse.  The “other guy” gets his…

And then, there is AT&T.  OMG…  We are talking 3rd Standard Deviation of “can’t get it right” service.  How bad?  I mean, right past the “this sucks” to the “I can’t believe this is happening to me crisis.”  Not slowing down, AT&T has now gone turbo and moved right through the “wow, this is so surreal it is kind of funny” and on into the twilight zone.  A game of chance?

The math to control for a discrete random variable in the statistics of all this simply escapes me.  But what has not eluded my attention is that AT&T is not finished – there is more to come.  Dare we talk 4σ?

Ya, it ain’t over…

Planning – Understanding Tradeoffs

The efficacy of planning is revealed in contrasts.  Consider this:

– The need: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

– All in: Paralysis by analysis – “You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

– All out: I’m a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world. ~John Cassavetes

– Optimum: “A violent plan executed today is better than a perfect plan next week.” ~ Patton