After a particularly stressful Thursday in the office, I spent the weekend in a meditate and observe mode, examining what was going on in my mind. On Saturday night I had a dream, which seems to have been my subconscious trying to send me an answer. I dreamd my friend Bob had bought a 60 foot long, 4 foot in diameter portion of a redwood tree. This was delivered to his house and placed in his side yard, completely filling it and running the entire length of the house. Bob’s intention was to cut the tree into discs and then sell the disks as redwood block table tops. This is a fairly daunting task. However, Bob’s intention was to simply take it one slice at a time.
Upon awakening I immediately noticed the correlation between the dream subject (approaching a daunting task) and the dream solution (take it one slice at a time). This isn’t a new answer to me. I think of it as a reinforcement of which answer to apply to the problem. Since I keep getting overwhelmed by the scope and complexity* of the tasks ahead of me, I need to stay focused and take it one slice at a time, to be present in the moment with the slice that I am working.
As I typed scope and complexity I realized that is not an entirely true statement. This project is large and complex, but no larger and no more complex than many other projects I’ve worked. What has really ratcheted my stress level up has been the very poor process application and very poor communication that surrounds the project. Information keeps coming out of the customer and senior management in drips and drops – almost always fragmentary and incomplete. This makes it a very challenging task because you get A, B, and C and start to design and plan accordingly, and suddenly they drop D on you. Then, as you attempt to fold that in, the drop E on you, and decide to take C out. This is frustrating because they should get to the point where they lock the requirements down, but the very people who should be locking the requirements down and the ones who are struggling with poor communication skills.
Obviously, part of the lesson I have to learn as I go through this particular project is the simple truth that I cannot be responsible for the quality of communications coming out of other people – I need to let that go, and to let it go without letting it wrap my frustrations levels so high.