Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tipping points

I only recall one piece of career advice from my father. He said, "Any job will have some component you don't like. The trick is keeping that part small enough so that it doesn't feel like you're spending all your time doing it." He gave paperwork as an example; for him, if he had to spend more than 10% of his time on paperwork, it seemed all-encompassing.

This was incredibly useful insight, because it made me aware of tipping points. If I have to deal with more than two toxic people in a group, I feel like the whole place is poisoned. If it's beastly hot for three days in a row, I despair that the whole summer will be like this. If I have to keep track of project details that I didn't assign to myself, I perceive my role as menial.

None of these things are true, of course. But since I'm very good at listening to my blustering as if it were gospel, it helps to have the idea of a tipping point somewhere in my mind to keep me honest. This is especially true with any kind of distress. We tend to think, I can't take any more! when in fact we've reached our tipping point rather than our capacity.

None of us want to function at full capacity, especially with distress. But we're capable of a lot more than we think.

No comments:

Post a Comment