Monday, July 21, 2014

What is the Priority?

In my household, there are four different people – my wife, my two daughters and myself.  In the band I play in, there are five other musicians beside me; two of them are my brothers.  At the place that employs me, there are 1300 people worldwide, out of which I interact with about 30.  At the house of worship I attend, there are 400+ family units.  I am my own person and at the end of the day, I need to prioritize my actions based upon my perception of the situation, potential outcomes and maintain my personal beliefs and values.  As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”  If I were an island, my prioritization would be all that matters; however, I exist with other people as I have outlined.  We need to be aware of the people that surround us and their priorities, as they could have an impact on our outcomes, or they could cause conflicting problems or provide us with other potential options.

Some time ago, I walked down into our basement, where I have an office.  As I stepped off the bottom step onto the carpeted floor, I realized that the color of the carpet look different in one spot – It was wet.  Instead of assessing the situation, I was all prepared to blame the dog. As I was ready to run up the steps, I figured on looking at the carpet.  Yes, I bent down to smell the wet spot – nope, that is not the dog.  “Oh, no!” I thought when I came to the realization that we had a leak in our water heater.  What a mess!  I ended up having to place a claim to our insurance and have someone come in to dry out the basement, remove / replace the carpet and replace the drywall.  Ripping out the carpeting meant clearing off my bookcase and emptying file cabinets.  For a small space, there was a lot of stuff.  We bought all different types of containers to move the stuff into.  Once the basement was usable, I now had the task of going through the containers and sort things out.  I threw away some things, regrouping like-kind items and separated out the papers to be shredded.  I was off to a good start.

…and that is where it ended. I know that to do tasks correctly, it will take dedicated time to go through and review.  I have tucked the cartons into an area that is not currently in use.  For me, based on the time needed to complete this task, it is not a priority.  For my wife, however, this is a priority.  The space where the cartons are located is where we used to have the band equipment when we held practices in our house.  Once the band “relocated” to my brother’s basement, we had the space to use for the family, which my wife suggested would be a great location for a stationary bike and / or treadmill or to use as a room for our kids to hang out in.  Makes sense.  I do not exercise (I know that is not ideal), so my priorities stay as they were.  My wife, on the other hand, goes to the gym.

In my example, our priorities are very different.  My wife is good about gently reminding me about the basement.  I give some non-committal response.  As a parent, there is a similar prioritization difference when it comes to my daughters cleaning their rooms.  They know where there things are (in a pile somewhere) and the way their rooms look is not a priority for them, no matter how many times I gently remind them to clean up.  I know that when they get annoyed with their rooms or have a new friend come over, the priority to clean their rooms goes up and they then put aside the time to straighten up their bedrooms.  I guess that I am not much different from my kids - when I get annoyed at looking at the containers taking up usable space, my priorities will shift (and come into synch with my wife’s), and I too will “clean up.”