Cutting Stuff Up

I don’t think I’m that unique in being rather bad at delegating. I was proud of myself for finally asking Jen (I couldn’t do it) to call a plumber (when I was in Santa Cruz) to fix the clog in the sink (and not tell me). I had tried for several weeks with different approaches. Finally borrowing a friend’s plumbers snake and ramming that thing 20 feet into the pipe without successfully unblocking it. Other than that I haven’t hired anyone for any part of the house remodel. (not me, stock photo. Toolbelts are for tools)

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At our large “Wesselpalooza” campout I traditionally make dinner for everyone there. That’s ranged from 30 to 70 people. We go in on Saturday to Leavenworth to buy everything and then cook it up. One year I made individual portions of Phad Thai in a great big wok named (by the manufacturer, not me), the “King Kooker”. That was a lot of work.

Last year it was 64 people for steak and chicken kabobs and several side dishes. This was already a compromise from my original plan of Argentine Churrasco – steak on swords grilled over a fire (yes, coming next year!). I was frantically working and rather stressed out. People kept asking if they could help and I kept saying no. All I needed to do was work faster, better, and get it done. I was madly cutting up red peppers when Tracey Dayton came over and said “I see you’re cutting stuff up. Would you like me to cut stuff up?”. It was brilliant in so many ways and a lesson I still remember.

“How can I help?” is a hard question. Effectively “hey, why don’t you stop what you’re doing, sit back, take a deep breath, acknowledge that you aren’t going to succeed on your own, and instead of clearly moving forward, take the time to figure out how to clearly divide work and offer it to others”. That’s hard. With some insight and clarity, Tracey eliminated all that complication and posed a simple yes/no question. Answer: “Yes, please yes, cut this stuff up”. After that everything else unlocked and it was an easy and collaborative dinner and the usual evening of Fireball and dancing round the campfire.

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I’m writing this at the end of a 12-hour day mostly because I need to apply it, right now.

And… It’s unlikely, but you might still wonder how the pipe was still blocked? It turns out shortly after entering the wall the pipe splits. One part goes up to vent to the roof. Another goes down to the drain. I’m pretty sure my snake was slithering all over the roof rather than down in the plumbing doing the real work.

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There’s no real insight there that I can think of. And I have no idea how you convince your plumbers snake to head up or down at a given junction with only a coiled, smelly, slippery spring to work with. But the point I guess is to step back for a moment, stop trying to push that snake into the pipe and figure out how to align the world around you with what you want to achieve. Otherwise you have to deal with a giant hairball like this.

4CPID

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