Monday, August 24, 2009

Battle Ready

Battle ready. That's my hope. It's my current perspective. This morning I am plotting out some important tasks that need to be managed this week and I am shocked by the complexity of the systems I face. I am feeling like I am suiting up for a major effort, some of it probably easy and a lot of it very difficult. For example:
  • We are dealing with an insurance claim at our home (a 50 year old retaining wall and deck collapsed) and we are trying to get it settled. The insurance company has been amazingly efficient. Our mortgage lender has been impossible!
  • We just got a boat (a birthday present from my sister!) and it has to be registered, insured, licensed. I understand a sales tax also has to be paid. This means the motor vehicle department and the IRS. And then there is a tune-up and a required Coast Guard safety course.
  • School is beginning in two weeks for my high school sophomore and there are school supplies to purchase and an impacted course schedule to adjust. This means a visit to the office supply store and guidance counselors.
  • The American healthcare debate and the American political theater...what more to say?
As I head into the week, I lean into my skills as an organizer and problem solver and I try to maintain an efficient stride as I persevere. Trying to have a sense of humor (and a good book for the long waits) is good too. And I just get so curious about how we humans got ourselves so overburdened by systems that no one can understand or manage. Who can understand the IRS or the insurance industry or the home mortgage industry or the public school system? Who?

What does the preparation for this kind of systems engagement look like for you? How do you keep it simple, clear, in perspective, productive? How do you hold people (usually un-empowered workers) in the system accountable for their responsibility to the system? What's it like knowing you have a miniscule presence in a gargantuan system? If we all individually work within the system and the system appears to work, does this mean the system is functional? What power or responsibility do we have to impact (or fix? or streamline? or eliminate?) systems that are no longer useful or too unwieldy to be effective?

And what are you aware of when you consider the systems you have created in your own life? Or organization? Or relationship? Or team? What do you notice when your non-profit organization's board begins to look so weighted down in muck like the IRS system? What do you notice when your marriage begins to sound like an endless chain of voice mail and robot sounding automated voice prompts (push #1 for accounts, push #2 for payments, etc.)? When you notice your system has become [fill in the descriptor of your choice here], what next?

I am geting ready for my week. Off to races. Into the battle. Ready to be patient. Ready to smile and be kind. Ready to complete forms, write checks, gather and present papers. Ready to manage my frustration and celebrate the moments of surprise. And all the while I am going to observe the systems I encounter. Will you join me?

I will report back!

Enjoy the week.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Survey Says...

I was asked by my doctor to participate in a study he is conducting of his patients who have had spinal surgeries and/or who undergo spine-related pain management therapies. What was so surprising about the study was that it was about quality of life and not medical care. I loved being asked to reflect upon my quality of life. And you?

The survey included the following:
We know that the meaning of Quality of Life differs from person to person. People can even change their own thinking on what is important for their quality of life at different points in life. In this questionnaire we would like to understand your view on your quality of life at this time. By "Quality of Life" we mean how you have been feeling in general and how satisfied you are with how things are going for you in your life, right now (generally, overall).

In a sentence, what does "Quality of Life" mean to you at this time?

In order to have the most satisfying life possible...

What are the (3) main things you want to accomplish?
What are the (3) main problems you want to solve?
What (3) situations do you want to prevent or avoid?
What (3) things do you want to keep the same as they are now?
What (3) things do you want to accept as they are?
What (3) demands and responsibilities do you want to let go of or reduce?
When you answer the questions for yourself, take a moment to celebrate your awareness and then share this awareness with someone else! You'll be glad you did.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009