Deadlines

Deadlines are the lines drawn in the sand, the air, and on calendars. They are imaginary lines past which one should not go, or you’ll die.  Die of what?  Failure? Disappointment? Losing a job? Not answering a need? Shame?

Deadlines are a form of communication.  “I need this by noon so we can move forward on the project.”

There should be no room for negotiation in a deadline. There is no room for negotiation in death, is there? So why do people push up against deadlines by crushing the work to be done up against the wall of the deadline?  To see if it will move?  Will it give in like a loose door, or an unsure mother or father?  Kids know this instinctively. Will the rules change if we keep ignoring them? Will Mom and Dad change their minds? Will my manager forget? Will the rule/deadline go away in the rush of life?

photodune-1687970-precious-time-concept-clock-mSome of us use faraway deadlines like beacons for purposeful activity, plotting steps from A to B in the final goal to arrive at Point Z.  Others of us assume that there’s still plenty of time and that there’s no use getting all excited — nothing can be gained by starting too early, they say.  It wastes time to start too soon, they say.  Besides, working under the pressure of a close deadline works in in their favor, they think, as in, “I work better because I’m more focused if time is short.”

Oh? What if your computer breaks? What if the electricity goes out? What if you get sick? What if?

I like deadlines. I like setting up a meeting… it gives me a deadline. I like to be early, to have room and time to make one last pass, one final reading, a once over to see if I left a sponge in the abdomen of my patient before they wake up. (I wanted to see if you were paying attention!)

There’s the Leonard Bernstein quote to throw in here, too. “To achieve great things two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” I think that’s the reason deadlines are SO important.  Somewhere along the creative lines of life, the concept of not quite enough time leads us to finality. If we didn’t have deadlines, we would continue to fix, trim, and self-edit until nothing ever, ever was produced. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” as they say. Someone has to say those two wonderful words, “It’s done!”

I like the pressure and excitement of a looming deadline, but sometimes, just sometimes, I procrastinate… to feel that teeny rush. Shucks. My cover is blown.

I write about the things that I would like to do better—largely because I’m not perfect. See my recent blog on “Perfect” if you’re so inclined. Meanwhile, I have a deadline.

Perceived Fear vs. Real Danger

I listened to Chris Hadfield’s TED talk today. He’s the one who went completely blind while OUTSIDE the space capsule miles above the earth’s surface. Um. Hm.. That’s probably something that would be a cause of fear for most people. He didn’t panic. He continued his work. His partner (you know, the buddy system—like in Boy Scouts and scuba diving) came to his side, made sure all was relatively calm, and Chris lived to tell about it. The other Boy Scout motto that slipped unseen into the speech, but I heard it very plainly, was “Be Prepared.” The astronauts had practiced all measures of scenarios, from “this is fun” to “this is the worst that could happen,” and everything in between. They were prepared for the “completely blind” incident… not specifically, but psychologically, allowing them NOT TO PANIC.

The point is… there is a point… had Chris Hadfield been unwilling to displace his perceived fear, and to prepare for the real dangers, he never would have seen the unimaginably beautiful vistas, nor experienced the gloriously satisfying accomplishment of his goal of being an astronaut. As I look at the perceived fears I have, I know that the real dangers are few. In fact, living is inherently dangerous, as no one gets out of it alive. No one.

Therefore, the best course is to practice and prepare for the worst so you can react appropriately when (and it usually does) the worst happens (only because that’s one of the unwritten rules of life and drama, for gosh sakes), and go for it. Whatever it is.

Second Place?

What happened? Did you hesitate? Didn’t you hear the gun go off? Did you look away for a moment? Well, these are takeoffs from a Jerry Seinfield routine, but when it’s close, second place hurts, and if it’s something stupid, it makes you nuts! Even so, for win, place, or show in horseracing, Gold, Silver or Bronze at the Olympics, the athletes “in the money” have different takes for sure.

The winner cannot be anything but happy. Right? Or not. Sometimes, they wonder if it’s a fluke. They ponder whether indeed the second place person just stumbled, and the second placer is really better after all. Then there’s the Silver Medal person. They worked just as hard. They practiced, bled, sacrificed, competed. Continue reading “Second Place?”