Saturday, July 21, 2007

Before planning

During my years as a Toastmaster I have told the story of an imaginary dark age. By dark age I mean a time similar to the European Dark Ages when people lived without the benefit of the knowledge that kept the Roman Empire running.

Imagine yourself in this "nearly knowledgeless" dark age as an observer. You see someone building what you believe to be a wall out of stones and some primitive type of mortar. After a little while the laborer runs out of stones, so he starts walking and you follow. (Don't worry, he can't see or hear or smell or touch you. These are some benefits of the dark age being imaginary!) He walks through a meadow, over a hill and through another meadow and at the edge of the meadow you see what seems to be a natural formation of rocks and there are lots (maybe even oodles!) of smaller stones of varying sizes. He bends over and picks up several stones and when he fills his arms he starts back to his building site. He doesn't know how fortunate he is not to need any permits. In fact, he has never heard of a permit. Unfortunately, because this a is a nearly knowledgeless dark age, he has also never heard of a wheelbarrow. With just his body available to carry stones, he gathers nine or 10 stones and drops one or two nearly every trip. Each round trip is a mile and a quarter or ten furlongs and takes him 35 minutes to complete. After 8 trips for a total of four hours and 40 minutes, he has 64 stones and is ready to start on the wall again.

Does he believe hard work is its own reward? Maybe. More likely, he just does what he knows how to do because he doesn't know anything else and he believes he must do it to survive. He gathers an average of 64 stones slightly more than twice per day. One day a week he gives himself a break by only gathering rocks. He ONLY works four hours and 40 minutes during his day of "rest". In a week he will gather an average of 960 stones and that will take him 70 hours. That doesn't include the time it takes to form the wall out of stones and mortar. Lucky for him he barters for the mortar, which saves him time. That time is precious, because he works 16 hours a day six days a week and four hours and 40 minutes one day a week. He works 100 hours and 40 minutes per week. Just under 30 hours is spent forming the wall. The other hour or so is time spent bartering.

Good thing he likes berries, because there are bushes just about everywhere. Sometimes he gets tired of berries, though. About three times a month he kills an animal on his day of "rest". Once in a while he'll get an animal on a work day, but that means less sleep or less work, so that doesn't happen very often. He's also fortunate that he's skilled at hunting, because half the time the animal is a big one and he can't eat it all, so he can barter what he doesn't consume.


How do you think he feels working all those hours to gather and carry stones? Are there any similarities to your life/work? Please explain.

If you were carrying stones, would you get frustrated when you dropped stones or do you think you would just take it in stride as part of the process? Please explain.

Do you think he works as much and as hard as he does because he doesn't know any other way? How is that similar or dissimilar to the way you do things? Please explain.

Do you think he notices natural beauty and abundance in his surroundings? Do you? Please explain.

Do you give yourself time to rest/relax/recharge? More or less than our imaginary dark age inhabitant? Why?

Do you think he would exchange something of value with someone else if he knew that person could put together stones and mortar as fast and as well as he can? Is there any work in your life that you would be willing to have someone else do? Would you be willing to exchange value with them for the value they provide?

Do you think he would be happy to learn about wheelbarrow technology? Yes or no. Why?

If someone taught him wheelbarrow technology, would he just "know" it or would he use it?

Would you just "know" it in your head or would you use the knowledge of technology you had learned? Is that how you do things now? Please explain.

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty.

Sounds like excellent advice to me for every arena of life.

It's also the title of a book by Harvey McKay. In this particular instance, Harvey McKay is talking about networking and I am a HUGE advocate of networking. The complete title is:

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need

Click on the title of today's post to see McKay's book on Amazon.

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