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  • Achilles heel
    When we think of Achilles it is of the almost god-like warrior, who had only one part of his body left vulnerable, his heel.
    We think of his heel as being his undoing.
    Then came the un-godlike behavior of Achilles, sulking in his tent, refusing to join his sword for the cause.
    Achilles was acting like a spoiled Diva.
    What called him to action and made him forget himself was his love for his friend.
    When Achilles left his tent to fulfill his destiny and legend,
    It was for the love of another.
    The review was over and the work was complete.
    My boss and I were looking around the room with pride and relief.
    “I have touched every inch of this room,” I said, explaining my fatigue to myself.
    My boss mentioned that one of our colleagues had wanted to be the MVP on this job.
    “The what?” I asked.
    “Most valuable player.” He said.
    A sports metaphor.
    One that begs the question, how do we define what is most valuable to a team?
    “Well he has his skills, but he was not the most valuable,” I said.
    In fact he had caused strife by being focused on him self in isolation from the team and the broader goals behind the project.
    Perhaps even wanting to be the most valuable means that you will be blind to everything outside of your own immediate concerns.

    Being valuable means that you have to work for others.
    Being valuable comes when you focus on both what you are doing and also how you are doing it.
    Then your actions come from reflection, and make the most of an opportunity.
    Self – criticism is important for a team.
    Game Analysis is a play-by-play activity.
    Screw up one day, but try to make it up the next.
    Every move, or non-movement, every day matters.


    Excitement: In slow motion
    I went in to work most Saturdays to have access to the scissor lifts and the walls.
    During the week the two carpenters and their assistants had the room tied up and I had to work around their erratic activities.
    On Saturday I could listen to music with my portable ear-phones and be uninterrupted in my thoughts.
    I set goals for myself; today I will finish the section from the mantel to the second window. Today I will fill the gaps in this section so I can prime it tomorrow. I thought in steps and sequences.
    I always got less done than I hoped, but perhaps I set my goals high.
    The Director came in many Saturdays to look in.
    “Don’t mind me, I’m just here for a look.” He said.
    Some weeks the progress was obvious and at another phase we crawled forward.
    “Not much has happened this week,” he said one Saturday, disappointed but not fully critical.
    I pointed out the sections that had been installed and the preparations for the next week. It was all planned out, the sequence and interrelated concerns.
    “What we do,” I said, “Is excitement in slow motion.”
    “Oh, I see,” he nodded. “How can you stand it? The excitement and the slow motion?”
    “That is the work,” I answered.
    “Yes, I suppose you get used to it,” he said, sounding like he might not be able to.

    But I never do get completely used to it.
    What you can get better at is living with, and anticipating the geography of yourself.
    Bump in the road ahead?
    Can you see it coming?

    You can get better at not being Achilles sulking in his tent, when you stop wanting to become the MVP.

    This was my goal, for myself, on this project, and I achieved my goal this time.

    If I were retiring this would have been a moment to savor.
    But there is still so much to be done, better and differently.

    I have no bed of laurels, yet, to rest upon.
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