Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Trying Too Hard

Personal Update

Many thanks to those of you who send me kind messages about my cancer. I waited quite a long time before posting an update as there have been several ups and downs. Put briefly, my throat cancer has cleared up following the radiotherapy; but cancer has spread to both lungs. They can't operate or risk radiotherapy as one of the cancers is very close to my heart, so after some deliberation they have just started me on immunotherapy (intravenous drugs every six weeks), which may or may not work, time will tell.

Meantime I started throwing myself into high-intensity exercise together with walking rugby and swimming but I overdid it and ended up with a fractured patella and a hernia. I should have known better at my age! 

The Project

I have just started working on a new book on agile time management. Merging conventional time management wisdom (which I have already published a book on), with an agile approach. It was partly triggered by my reading "Four Thousand Weeks" by Oliver Burkeman. 4,000 weeks refers to our average lifetime and I realised that I am well into my last hundred or so so I had better crack on and hopefully I will get it finshed in time.

I won't try too hard however.  I once received some excellent advice from a ski coach.  He said that I should try softer rather than trying harder.  “Imagine that the handles of the ski poles are little canaries in your hands”.  Several dead canaries later I finally stopped trying so hard and it worked!  Of course I immediately got very excited at my success, crossed my skis and had a spectacular crash!  The way is not always without a sense of humor. 

Project managers who drive themselves and their team think that they will be admired by their management for their efforts.  In fact they are often laughed at.  People who tell you how good they are and how hard they work are likely to be insecure.  People who try and impress you with the demands and complexities of their job are probably confused by it themselves. 

The Way 

Now consider the opposites.  People who don’t try too hard will usually achieve what they are working for because they are working within the limit of their competence.  People who admit that they are always learning from what they do are the ones with the real knowledge.  People who make things seem simple and easy to understand are the ones who really know what they are talking about. 

The wise project manager does not make a fuss about things.  He allows things to happen and unfold at their own pace while observing them, for this is the way of the project manager. 

The Tao 

Lao Tzu tells us: 

Everyone sees some things as excellent, 

Therefore other things become bad. 

Everyone sees some things as good, 

Therefore other things are not good. 

Having and not-having produce each other, 

Difficult and easy bring about each other, 

Long and short reveal each other, 

High and low support each other, 

Tone and voice harmonize each other, 

Before and behind accompany each other.  


Therefore the sage acts without motive, 

Teaches with no words of doctrine. 

The ten thousand things arise and fall, 

But he has no claim of ownership, 

Endowed but no claim for payment. 

Meritorious work done, then forgotten. 

Therefore it lasts forever.