I know what you’re thinking: “Hmmm, first it was five, then four, now one, just ONE fascinating find for this month?” I’m not pulling a fast one on you, I promise. There is a good reason that I’m only sharing one story—and it’s not because my wingnuts are still twisted too tight, or because I couldn’t find anything interesting enough. It’s because, in my mind, the following is the most important point to ponder as we go in to the new year. Ready? Here it is:
“It was many years ago that villagers in Downstream recall spotting the first body in the river. Some old timers remember how spartan the facilities and procedures were for managing that sort of thing. Sometimes, they say, it would take hours to pull 10 people from the river, and even then only a few would survive.
Though the number of victims in the river has increased greatly in recent years, the good folks of Downstream have responded admirably to the challenge. Their rescue system is clearly second to none: most people discovered in the swirling waters are reached within 20 minutes—many in less than 10. Only a small number drown each day before help arrives—a big improvement from the way it used to be.
Talk to the people of Downstream and they’ll speak with pride about the new hospital by the edge of the waters, the flotilla of rescue boats ready for service at a moment’s notice, the comprehensive health plans for coordinating all the manpower involved, and the large number of highly trained and dedicated swimmers always ready to risk their lives to save victims from the raging currents. Sure it costs a lot but, say the Downstreamers, what else can decent people do except to provide whatever is necessary when human lives are at stake.
Oh, a few people in Downstream have raised the question now and again, but most folks show little interest in what’s happening Upstream. It seems there’s so much to do to help those in the river that nobody’s got time to check how all those bodies are getting there in the first place. That’s the way things are, sometimes.”
A simple, maybe obvious fable, yes. But, I challenge you to think about how common the downstream approach is in our daily lives.
At work, which processes and procedures do you have in place that are downstream fixes rather than upstream investigations? Have you ever asked “why?” and when you got to the answer you discovered the absurdity of what was being done? Or the strange path that brought you to such rigmarole? By addressing the cause, rather than treating the effect, you’ll discover amazing efficiencies.
What about your health? Are there some questionable activities happening upstream that could be sending you repeatedly downstream to the doctor’s office? Probably. Are you getting enough sleep so that you don’t become run down? Are you eating nutritious foods that boost your vitality as well as your immune system? Are you taking time to move and exercise your body? All of these can prevent a tumble into the rushing tides.
Same goes for your home/family/personal life. Whether it’s your significant other, a loved one, or dear friend: what are you doing to nurture those relationships? Isn’t it better not to have to say you’re sorry or make amends for a moment of unkindness, neglect, or impatience? (I know how I feel when I’ve done the damage; it’s not a good.) When you make it a practice to repeatedly pause, think, listen, and reach out, you rarely have to send out the rescue crew.
Oh, and back to work. Now we’re not talking about the silly things you’ve been doing for years but never stopped to question; we’re talking about keeping your people happy, engaged, and in their seats. Recognizing, encouraging, appreciating, and communicating with your employees are proactive moves that prevent your employees from jumping ship left & right. Do this right and you won’t need anyone downstream!
Allison is currently living out the elaborate fantasy she described to her now-former staff and colleagues in early 2001. With a hearty dose of courage and absolutely no plan of action, she abruptly left her middle-management job to become a writer—and today she is doing just that in her role as Baudville's Senior Content Writer. She's here to tell you everything she's learned in her 20-years+ professional life, plus a lot more. She's wordy like that!