Thursday, August 05, 2010
Life's Little Lists
Six months ago today I wrote a post titled Cleat in Time. There was some suggestion in that post about short term plans and goals. Here today, I had thought of reflecting on those words and checking on those goals. But I am not really a list-making type of guy. Oh, I keep a few notes jotted down here by the keyboard but I am just not much of a punishing self-reflector. So rather than measure my own accomplishments over the last six months or sixty years ... let me tell you a story.
Back in the 80s, my business partner and I decided to hire an old friend. She had come on some hard economic times but she was fully qualified to work for us. Tom was concerned about whether a job with us would really pull her out of the doldrums she had sailed into. But we decided to do the right thing and she came to work in our mortgage company.
One of Tom's many roles was office manager, so I was not surprised about a month into Donna's time with us that Tom had her in for a late Friday afternoon conference. I poked my head in to wish them a good weekend and headed out for TGIF in Hermosa Beach. The following Monday, Tom showed me a single sheet of paper he had under his desk blotter. He had Donna write down the ten things she needed to accomplish to regain her equilibrium and happiness. I noticed the list was dated and signed by both of them.
About six months later, Tom called me into this office one morning and showed me the list. He had another meeting with Donna, had shown her the list, he now showed me. Each of the ten items were checked off in Donna's hand and a new item was written in below. She had a new list of ten things between her and happiness.
I asked about the purpose of the exercise, confused by why there needed to always be a list before happiness. Tom told me that he had put the list in front of Donna gave her a pen and asked her to check off each item that she had accomplished in the previous six months. She then spontaneously checked off each item in order but before moving onto the next item she wrote in a new one.
There was always going to be a list between her and happiness. Tis why I am not so fond of lists and the obsessive compulsives who live by them.