Cutting Time…

I had no desire to get a new Laptop. And up until the day it arrived I continued to deny I needed one. In hindsight I didn’t really have any choice. And I did have lots of need. Although my old machine worked, it was unwell. It was unreliable and was suffering from the dreaded ‘Blue Screen of Death’ syndrome. At times it felt as if my BSoD was my computer’s most reliable feature.

My old machine’s most impressive aspect was its battery – which lasted for hours. I have kept the battery for my new machine…which looks very similar to my old machine. In the end – despite my anxiety – the switch was painless. Better yet I was never separated from my computer. The file transfer happened (somehow) in real time…by wifi. I was worried nevertheless, and every so often found myself staring at my computer wondering what was happening. But sure enough everything happened exactly as I was told it would.

Better yet – my new machine works very well. It took me all of five minutes to get used to the new versions of standard tools and applications and there’s some neat new stuff in there as well.

The added bonus is that my new Laptop – combined with new operating system – has magically eliminated all the irritations I had with my old system…some of which I didn’t even realise were slowing me down. My blackberry doesn’t have ‘shadow meetings’…and I can un-dock, project and re-dock without changing any settings. I am a convert! I am a promoter!

And now, I am somewhere between amazed and disappointed that I was so resistant to this change. People were trying to convert me for weeks. But, despite their best efforts, I still resisted. Why? Because I was too busy.

In hindsight – I was too busy using my laptop to have my laptop upgraded and improved. A friend took great delight in pointing out that I was ‘too busy cutting down trees to sharpen my axe’.

We are all very busy. At times of change we are very busy. At the end of the year we are very busy. At the beginning of the year we are very busy. At mid-year we are very busy. All year long…we are very busy!

I doubt I am more or less guilty than anyone else, although…my team can’t spend time shortening our time lines as we are too busy improving our delivery. I can’t afford time for that training because I am too busy. I had to get someone else to attend that meeting because I was too busy preparing for next week.

That proverbial woodcutter story rings so true with me. A lumberjack was speaking with his boss who in turn was seeing less and less timber being brought to his yard each day…despite our lumberjack being out in the woods from dawn to dusk – “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” “Sharpen my axe? I have no time to sharpen my axe…I am too busy cutting down trees.”

There is nothing wrong with activity and there are times when hard work is the difference between success and failure. But we all need time to think and consider – to learn and to grow. In addition, it’s essential I acquire new skills both as an individual and with my teams. It’s important I develop my knowledge of when and how to use those skills.

We all have to make and take time to ‘sharpen our axes’. If we don’t, we run the very real risk of reducing our effectiveness and losing our competitive edge.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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