You Can’t Do Everything Well

There’s a rule somewhere, maybe a law, that doesn’t allow doing everything well. Thinking of things to do is just so much easier than actually making them happen.

I have a long list of things I want to accomplish and each one is good somewhere for someone. The problem is not enough me to do them. And minions are expensive.

Enter the dreaded priorities. In order to get something done, something has to not get done. And I hate saying no to me.

It’s Like Herding Birds

Priorities just won’t stay put because they are constantly under assault by the shiny, urgent thing that’s right in front of you.

It’s like training Nessie when there are birds around. Birds make her insane! She really goes crazy. How crazy, you ask?

Suzie and I were sitting in line at a Hardee’s drive through window with Nessie in the back seat when a bird flew by. Nessie, still in the back seat, took off at an all-out run to the front seat armrest in a bound and straight into the windshield on her second bound.

It was a car wreck inside a car! She piled up with a giant thumpety bump on the dashboard and slid down into Suzie’s lap looking like she was seeing stars.

Now she makes sure and puts puppy nose art on the windshield to remind her that it’s still there. Devious humans.

That’s how I feel without priorities, like there’s a car wreck inside the car and I’m it, like I’m running while texting while blogging while making a latte.

Like Einstein

I’m no Einstein, in case you were wondering, but he’s a good example of focused, prioritized thinking. When he got the spark of inspiration and began to work on a generalized theory of relativity that included gravity (hmmm . . .), he set aside nearly everything else.

For four years he worked so hard that his marriage started falling apart and his hair turned gray. In the end he changed science and was hailed as a genius, this from a man who was previously known for working at the patent office.

So, if a genius had to work that hard and be that persistent, what do you think I’ll have to do?

Like The Music Biz

I spent thirty years in the Nashville music business. It’s a long story. I won’t bore you.

If I had to point to one thing that let me stay instead of going back home complaining about the industry like so many do each year, it is this – I focused. From the time I was bedazzled by the sounds and lights of my first world-class studio until the time I decided I was done (another long story), I wanted nothing more.

In fact, the studio is all about focus. There are receptionists and locked doors to keep out distractions. It is soundproofed. There are no TVs in the control room. The lights dim to remove visual interference. There aren’t even any clocks.

Because the studio and the musicians are so expensive per hour, nothing is allowed to compete for attention. Dollars disappear by the second. Budgets vaporize. Careers are on the line.

It’s a near perfect creative environment designed to nurture the best performances by sensitive artists to create legendary hits without distractions.

Several times I went into the studio in the morning and came out late at night to find a tornado had passed over the city without my knowledge. I could focus for days, weeks and months without a break.

But No More

Life doesn’t work that way anymore. Out here in the real world things get crowded and sticky. I have no secretary to prevent phone calls. No producer threatens my job if I get on Facebook.

Nessie doesn’t care. What my dog wants, she demands with serious consequences if I ignore her. Walk or clean carpets, my choice. To illustrate my point, and to demonstrate her recently developed psychic abilities,she just jumped up on my bistro table as I typed her name, pawed my laptop keyboard and pried my hands away with her teeth.

Such is life. Excuse me . . .

While I was out with Nessie, Mom got up and needed me to make coffee. She doesn’t paw my keyboard but she also makes herself known. Now she’s standing behind me whispering,”Hardee’s biscuit, Hardee’s biscuit, Hardee’s biscuit.”

Excuse me again . . .

I’m back. You see how it is. Nessie psychically chanted,”Dog park, dog park, dog park,” all the way home but I resisted her will . . . so far.

Yesterday the two of them teamed up on me because of beautiful weather and we ended up at Rock City. I hold little optimism for my psychic well-being or will power should Nessie learn to read this admission. Please, don’t tell her.

Priorities Are There To Protect Me

Out here in the rough and tumble world of elder care and puppy training I have only one line of defense from distractions – my priorities. Whatever I create will be fought for or not happen at all. I can’t just choose, I have to nail down my choices and defend them. Part of this means admitting that I can’t do it all.

I’ve been blogging five days a week and working on my book nights and weekends and the book isn’t getting done. Recently the thought occurred to me that I should reverse that and blog less for a bit.

52 Things Done Well

Rather than write small pieces 260 days a year, maybe I should try doing 52 things done well. Then maybe I can finish the book.

I’m not sure I can actually hold my blogging to once a week. I’ve tried it before and can’t help but write more. We’ll see.

It all depends on how well I do what I choose to do. 52 good things beat lots of mediocrity.

One great thing may beat them all. That’s what I’m trying for with the book.

There’s only one way to find out . . .


Photo: Mom and Nessie at Rock City yesterday by Dennis Ritchie