Sunday, March 3, 2013

Unexpected Help

Sometimes, you get help from the least likely places. And in the least likely ways. It seems that when projects get to a point of closure, all of the issues that a team has refused to look at come crashing in – almost always at the same time. But every once in a while, something unexpected happens and the troubles are averted. You see, every once in a while, against all odds – people listen, and more importantly, do something about it.

It reminds me of a fishing story I have been meaning to share. Not ALL blogs have to be about boring stuff!! No, some can and should go right into the mystical realm – to illustrate a point. You see, one of the things I I enjoy doing best is fishing – the solitude and the immersion into nature is extremely healing and refreshing to me, and I never seem to have enough time to do this on a regular basis. But on this occasion, I did. I had moved to a new city not long ago, and had adjusted and began to research fishing spots to replace the near idyllic one I had left behind. To boot, I had found some friends, and fishing had changed – ever so slightly. We had gone to a nearby lake, and had a few adventures and some laughs – a really nice time to aid with the transition. But on this cold spring morning, I found myself alone, in the new spot, with an overcast sky and a deep sense of loneliness.

The thing with fishing is that it is very different but similar to the act of catching. Most people, in fact tend to equate the two. Nothing could be further from the truth! Fishing where one enjoys solitude and immersion in nature can usually only be enjoyed and mastered with the total absence of catching – which although extremely enjoyable is much more rare than actual fishing. And this dreary day, I was fishing – alone. In my meditation, I thought of all the things I left behind, and of all the adjustments I was making – and still had to address. And in my thoughts, I must not have noticed the stranger who joined me, albeit very quietly, on that morning.

The fact that I was no longer alone was about as quiet as a tornado – as this neighbor proceeded to do the one thing that eluded me – he went right into catching. Strike after strike, he kept pulling in White Bass. And I guess I got a little closer to see what his secret was. This stranger looked remarkably like Kenny Rogers, and actually invited me to join him in the only way total strangers can. He said to me – cast right by the buoy. And I did. We were using similar lures, and although my technique was adequate, I continued to fish – while he continued to catch  I observed his cast, the angle, the position of rod and presentation – and tried to imitate it perfectly. But it was all to no avail. I could not catch a thing – not even get a nibble! So – this is when things got interesting…

Because at this time, Kenny Rogers looked me straight in the eye and said the second and final thing he would say to me. You see, he was watching me too. He looked at me and said – let it sink a little longer. Don’t reel in too soon, let it get to the deep. I thought this funny because I always tried to help my friends, sometimes to hilarious results. And no angler appreciates being critiqued!! But, at this point, having been assisted and also having nothing to do, I listened – and caught my first white bass that day. Yup, we ad now both hit a run, and now both were enjoying some crazy, frantic excitement of bringing in some pretty nice sandies. It was a great morning – and inn true Texas mystical fashion, I never saw Kenny Rogers again.

This reminds me of my projects sometimes. All we need for success is right there – especially if we have been going at a good pace and have a few sprints under us. If the team is doing the best they can, and following all the processes they need – they should be successful. But in every project there is compromise. And that compromise early can result in disaster when you least expect it. These compromises rise to the surface at the end of the project. In one recent project, I was very pleasantly surprised. You see, several of my companions in the project were listening. And although a lot of things were left on the table, some of these started to get picked up before it became too late. And even some of the people that were resistant to process were now seeing how we could actually make it. Unbeknownst to them, they were listening, and when that happens, and you are willing to try to do something about it – well, your day can just turn from a gloomy overcast sprint to the best fishing day of the year. And who knows, maybe some stranger can actually help you at the end of the day!

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