Thursday, July 01, 2004

Cogs or not?

It's true that all parts of a business must function well or the entire enterprise suffers. I get stuck when several clients move up their deadlines, or can't pay, or a vendor sends the wrong material on a time critical project. Is running a business like running a machine? If one part gets stuck, does the whole thing grind to a halt?

If I had different people in the different roles, then one or two at a time might be stuck, but the rest of us could keep going. What I am learning is that running this business is only a little bit like turning a crank on a set of gears. It's closer to filling jugs that are rubbery. I can keep filling all the jugs that are still working, and not get entirely caught up in "fixing" the one or two that are not.

Until I thought of rubber jugs, I'd been using this mental model of gears for a long while. It works well for me, because I am reminded that moving this one moves that one, and so on, in a complete process. But how can I have a complete process when gears won't move? In the last month, I had three of these gears get really, really stuck.

I spun a gear free. In my mind, I just lifted it out of the process and let it stay frozen. I kept all the other cogs moving, and kept hammering on the most stuck one too, but I kept it from absorbing all my concentration. So now that it's broken free, the other gears are still turning, and with only a little grinding I can leap back into operating at a nice velocity.

It feels really, really great to get back to flowing with the waves of abundance I am gifted with.

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