Back in 1999 I had a boss who would consider our team’s approach to over-engineering some solution or another and say “I don’t want you to boil the ocean. Just make a nice cup of tea.” Put another way: “Don’t try to fix everything. Fix the thing right in front of you.”
I’ve been thinking about how bad 2016 was, and I’ve determined that most of the worst bits were parts over which I had little or no control. A few of the worst bits, for me anyway, were totally my fault, but they weren’t bad enough to make the news so they don’t show up on the global score card. In short, the oceans aren’t my fault, but this cup of tepid water is totally on me, and I can do better.
“Doing better” does mean looking beyond the top of the teacup. Maybe not all the way to the ocean, but at least to the rest of the mugs, cups, glasses, and carafes in the room. It’s possible that I can fix the thing right in front of me AND fix a few things that happen to be within reach. If I pay close attention, I may find that my reach even extends beyond the white-room drink station of this metaphor, and into the wider world of insufficiently incalescent beverage preparation.
But first, a pot of hot water, right here. And as long as I’m heating water, there are things that can be cleaned in it, like the dishes, the laundry, and oh! A hot bath!
2017 is here. I don’t know what opportunities and crises will present themselves, but I’m here for them, as ready as I can make myself. And if I need to keep a pot of boiling water handy, at least that’s a thing I know how to do.
2016 in Review
1) Was it bad? Yes.
2) Worst ever? No.
3) What was bad? *makes list*
4) Can I fix any of these? *tickmarks*
5) Ready for 2017
— Howard Tayler (@howardtayler) December 30, 2016