Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Tactics and strategy

A lot of assholes will say things like "every setback is an opportunity to learn" or variations on "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I suppose I'm one of them.

I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety recently, I'm not going to share it, well not ALL of it, not the juicy bits, you'll have to get me drunk for that, but a lot of anxiety. A lot of having to breathe in four and breathe out eight, some of you know what I'm on about, and there's a lot of things at play.

I'm about to turn forty two - statistically THE most depressing age to be - apparently you peak at 17 and then at 70 (link needed), right at the start of adulthood, when you can be forgiven for believing anything is possible, and close to the end of adulthood, when you can be forgiven if you no longer care what's possible.

And this is what gets me to tactics and strategy.

A little refresher for those of you who weren't board game/history geeks - but tactics is how you fight - guns or knives Butch? And strategy is what you're fighting for - let's take over that country, so we can impregnate their women, and maybe have children that look like us for a change...

I digress.

So I've been making some strategically bad decisions - not lining up good work or actually advancing my own projects, failing to budget enough for the tax man, etc. and these strategic errors have landed me in some pickles - where all of a sudden you've got to come up with a thousand dollars, or defuse the bomb before the bus slows down, the usual stuff. Real operating in panic mode situations.

And so then it's all about tactics. You know what got you into this mess was a mistake, but you've still got to deal with it, you've got to take the best worst action - and keep moving.

I spent Sunday in this mode - I needed to finish a job I had not wanted but took because I owed the tax man, I subsequently figured out a way to delay paying or otherwise fancy bank my way out of the juice, but I’d already committed to the job, and had been procrastinating working by writing silly blog posts in the hopes that if I couldn't write prose or screenplays, I could pull endless fluff out of my navel, and because I'm self-involved and somehow against the evidence believed the universe still owed me something, it would translate into filthy lucre.

It hasn't. No one reads this - I check obsessively.

So I was driving the first born to visit his grandparents as it was relache and I'd not lined up social activities for him, and if he was stuck in the house I'd never get any work done. Four hours round trip, so I could then work flat out, for a job I neither wanted or needed, but had agreed to do.

So where did the wisdom come in?

It went something like this. For two hours on the way I mulled over my predicament. How did I let it come to this? What should I have done differently? Was I making another mistake?

And I wasn't.

The sweet boy was going to have more fun with his grandparents than moping around the house getting yelled at because his dad wasn't where he wanted to be professionally and was having trouble being productive. I was going to be able to do my work - and do a good job, because I'd be less distracted. The rest of the family would be happier because of these things. And it got better.

The pain of my uncertainty over this tactical decision made me reassess the strategic errors I keep making - I keep allowing fear and uncertainty to push me towards decisions I know aren't good - like taking an easy job out of fear I can't find a better one - and then French sealing the dog so hard I dig myself a work debt on top of my financial ones...so it's time - AS IT HAS always been to stop missing the forest for the trees, to recognize that the longer term, more meaningful choices, entrain better tactical challenges along the way.

Forced to beat a hasty retreat, I reached a vantage point where these things just became obvious.

Now, there's knowing the path and there's walking the path, but the take away, or take out if this was a drive thru, is that if you've made bad choices, but deal with them as well as possible, you are more likely to find yourself with enough distance or perspective at some point, to start making better ones. And the defeat or retreat you're forced to endure may take you to a place, may sear itself sufficiently into your soul, that you are better prepared, better armed to choose your battles more wisely the next time.

So it does make you stronger, and teach you lessons, and all that trite shit that's so annoying because, well, it's good advice.

That you haven't taken.

So it's time to start.

And tell me how it's working for you.

2 comments:

Paul Drouin said...

I read this. Comments to follow.

Paul Drouin said...

I read it. Comments to follow.