Posted by: nedpelger | February 5, 2010

Beware Permanent Problems

In 2010, I’m starting my prayer time each morning by reading an essay from the Oxford Book of Essays. These short essays give wisdom from a variety of authors through the ages. It’s a nice way to stretch my mind.

I’ll occasionally share some passage that moves me. For example, in 1642 Thomas Fuller wrote “Of Anger” which has the following passage:

“Take heed of doing irrevocable acts in thy passion. As the revealing of secrets, which makes thee a bankrupt for society ever after: neither do such things which done once are done for ever, so that no bemoaning can amend them. Samson’s hair grew again, but not his eyes: time may restore some losses, others are never to be repaired.”

We all create problems for ourselves with some of our decisions. We need to be careful to avoid those problems that could turn permanent. When I was a young PM, we were placing a concrete floor on an office building. I happened to be on the jobsite when high winds started flexing the steel joists in the roof and moving the concrete block walls. I remember running down to the guys finishing the concrete and yelling, “Get out of the building now! I think it’s going to collapse!” I was only 27 years old and I’m not sure why they listened to me, but they did and the walls and steel collapsed about 30 seconds later, right where they were working.

It was a great lesson for me to take the risk of appearing foolish and do what seems to be right. In the case above, it worked great. Of course, I also remember almost being thrown off a bridge by a truck driver I’d just accused of cheating on his hauling runs, only to later realize I’d made a math mistake in calculating the run cycle. Man was that guy mad!

Wisdom in this business involves a mix of trying to do the right thing while considering the long term result of our actions. It’s not easy, but worth the effort. In a nutshell, live the examined life.

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