The Problem With Working in the Trenches

June 17th, 2009   •   no comments   
We Think the Mud Is the Problem

The big problem with “heads down” working is the view that prevails: it’s myopic.  The times are calling for presbyopia or farsightedness.

The metaphor has some benefits in terms of grasping the challenges: if we focus on the trench then, mostly, I end up seeing the mud and the muck that I’m working in.  Since I’m human, I’m interested in improvements and I yearn for a milled product of the forest: a 2x board — a 2×10 would be good — that I can lay on the floor of my trench and, therefore, rise above the ooze or mire (in winter and spring) and the crust in summer.  This, I think, is progress.  This is good.

Nevermind that I haven’t heard a shot in days nor felt the vibration of an artillery shell hitting the earth;  I’m still in the trench.  And, this is the problem: I’m heads down and I don’t look up very often (have you ever noticed that about the people walking on the streets in New York City? They just don’t look up); it’s a self-preservation thing. 

So, I’ve got my boards; I’m traveling my trench a little more efficiently because my boots are not sinking into the goop but it’s still a discouraging and depressing existence.  If I looked up, over the side of the trench — somewhere close to where my bolt-action rifle is positioned — I’d discover that the enemy, the threat is gone.  No soldiers, no guns, no artillery, no tents; their trenches have been filled in.  They must have done it one night while I was sleeping.

Right now, I think there’s a call for “Heads Up” working, looking out over the trenches; a push away from the jitteriness and an embrace of the possible.  Maybe even some radical thinking, actions.  Get rid of the boots, forget the boards and climb out; the threat is gone.  In fact, it was never really there in the first place; it was just your imagination.  Presbyopia: march on!

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