Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You must not be led aside by fits of disinclination or annoyance; if you give way to these you will never succeed. Patience and perseverance win the day. "Softly, softly, catchee monkey."

Managers, Teachers, Parents, Users, Stakeholders and other Authority Figures seem to want it done right, done immediately, and never done again (DoItRightTheFirstTime). Of course you can't deliver on such expectations, and in fact most of these Authorities are just your own boojums - the real people behind them know that good work takes time. They're putting pressure on you because they want your best, not because they expect a miracle.

Now sometimes what these folk want is really not difficult to do. You know how to get from A to B, you get into that Mental-State Called Flow, and you do it. But sometimes you haven't got the faintest, or you're damn certain what they're asking for isn't a realistic expectation, or it isn't the right thing at the right time.


Don't meet the insurmountable problem head on, but move slowly, deliberately, compassionately, to surround it. You don't catch your monkey by running into the jungle and trying to flush it out. Monkeys move faster in a jungle than you, and they can always climb and hide.

Step back. Get lazy. Ignore deadlines. Think. Research. Wander. Let the back-burners do some work. Panicking and rushing isn't going to solve a hard problem. Perhaps you're not doing the right thing at the right time. Perhaps there's some other way to balance the forces, or some forces you're neglecting. You won't find the solution by looking for it; it has to find you. Let it.

If you enter the jungle with due pace and caution, but with no idea in your head about catching a monkey, they won't see you as a predator coming. You just mind your business until you see a monkey. They'll be paying you no attention. Then calmly and deliberately notch your arrow and catch your dinner.