/ Elliot C Smith / blog


July 13, 2019

The path to taking action can feel like water running through a maze of pipes. If it gets all the way to the faucet, action happens. When water is blocked, it doesn’t. Our jobs, as managers of our own lives and managers of others are to be the plumbers. Sizing, laying and adjusting pipes to get as much water through as we can.

Some days bad things happen. These bad things are like rocks in the pipes. Small enough, they’ll flow through, only slowing things down. Big enough and you have a blockage. Rocks can be anything. Bad news, a low mood, imaginary problems. Sometimes blockages build up. Little things stack together. Things that on their own would flow. Sometimes one big rock stops the water in its tracks. It’s easy to get caught up in rock clearing. How do we break them apart? How do we clear them? We can clear and clear and keep the water running for a time. We can watch and warn when rocks appear and buy ourselves a little time.

The problem is, rocks come. We can’t stop the rocks. But we do lay the pipes. When we know there’ll be rocks we need to build a more reliable system. When inaction grips you, lay a new pipe, find another way. Our lives don’t need to be a single path from A-B. The more ways we can work through issues. There more rocks we’ve seen. The more resilient we are to blockages. Over time we start to see the bigger picture. We stop focusing on one rock in one pipe and realise we have limitless room to place more pipes. To place bigger pipes. To get more water through and take more action. It’s only possible when we stop looking at the rocks and start looking at the pipes.

We’re the plumbers. Lay the pipes.

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