Monday, April 14, 2003

The mind works in mysterious ways, especially my mind. One minute I was wondering why anyone would fall for the “flaming bag of poo” prank – and then suddenly, my life made sense.

But let me start from the beginning. When there’s a flaming bag of poo on your porch, the thing that initially gets your attention is the fire. That’s what makes this prank such an enduring and popular one. Almost by pure instinct, you act to put the fire out as quickly as possible. You’re in “crisis mode” and you respond. Who could blame you? Once the fire is out, well, hopefully you have another pair of shoes and the name and address of the person who did this to you.

That being said, a lot of us live our lives in “crisis mode”. Paperwork, schoolwork and housework are common things for people to fall behind on. Having the occasional crisis can make you think that you should devote LOTS of time to “getting organized” - past the point of diminishing returns.

That’s why “embracing incompetence” (see the web page description) is no joke. There isn’t always a reason to be extremely competent. (I am refering to specific tasks, not you as an individual.) There just isn’t enough time in life to become highly competent at things you will always have to struggle with. Of course these things need to be dealt with, but the point is not to spend most of your time on it. When the effort exceeds the benefit in these difficult areas (or they simply don't get done), you may even decide to hire someone else to do some of those things for you. And if you’re bent on “being productive”, think of it this way: when you spend most of your time doing stuff that you’re GOOD at, it’s a much more productive use of your time. The difference between “good enough” and “perfect” when working on something you don’t have an aptitude for involves huge amounts of time, at the expense of other things that you enjoy and do well. And who says that doing things you enjoy and do well can’t be productive?

So the moral of the story, whether it’s spending time managing your weak areas or standing with your foot in a previously flaming bag of poo: It’s bad enough that you stepped in it, but don’t stay there any longer than necessary.


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