Monday, April 22, 2013

Part 3 of Five Lessons from TED

Five Lessons (Re-)Learned in a Day at TED – Part 3

Lesson Three: Get out of the task trap.

If you decide to go into business, there is a good chance that you’ll develop what I like to call
A common symptom of
"stuck-in -the-muck-itis"
“chronic stuck-in-the-muck-itis.”  Stuck-in-the-muck-itis can often be self-diagnosed by checking for the following symptoms:

  • Analysis paralysis – You put off making a crucial decision or implementing a strategy in the hopes that continued analysis will make the choice/plan easier.
  •  Data dumping – You simply restate a plethora of data without drawing any actionable conclusion or without making a recommendation based on it.
  •  Check-check-checklist – You use the same checklist everyday which becomes the sole focus of your activities, prohibiting you from thinking on your feet or re-shift priorities.
Stuck-in-the-muck-itis has many other symptoms, but collectively they all boil down to the same root cause, you get caught in a task trap.

Life is busy.  As someone who works nearly full-time, goes to school full-time, has a wife and six month old at home, I get that.  With so much to do, it is easy to live life as nothing more than a series of routines, a sequence of task after task after task.  Even in a program as exciting as the MSBA at CUA, it can be a challenge to escape the day to day.

Working at TED reminded me just how important it is to get out of the task trap.  As I was walking around the first day with my checklist of “Daily Info Desk Opening” procedures, it hit me: I was working at TED…. I WAS WORKING AT TED!!!

From Bono to Ben Afleck, from Elon
Musk to 13 year old Richard Tuere,
a quick glance at this year's TED
speaker board reveals a group who
knows how to get unstuck from the
I had dreamed of this for years and it was finally a reality!  Was I really going to let a checklist take away so much of my focus that the joy of what I was doing was lost, boiled down to nothing more than things I had to get done?  It was the perfect “stop and smell the roses” moment.

I think that is one of the things that makes TED speakers and attendees such a unique group.  Every time they start to feel stuck in the muck, they find a way to reignite the passion they had when they first started out.  Everywhere I went, people were excited and happy, energetic and revitalized.  It was as if a contagious buzz had been passed around person to person, amplified by each.  Why can’t that same buzz, that same energy permeate our everyday lives?  
                                                           Why can’t we get excited about the ordinary?

The good news is, we can.  It’s just not as easy and requires us to apply some effort.  Since coming back from TED to the MSBA program, I have tried to consciously spend a few moments every day getting excited about the everyday.  From walking down the stairs at
The MSBA program provides ample opportunity to escape
from the task trap and remember this is no ordinary program ,
such as this shot of professors and students from the class
of 2013 at the New York Stock Exchange,
McMahon to attending mass at the Basilica Shrine, from lectures on Capitol Hill to eating lunch at the Pryz, it’s important to try to take a few moments and take it all in.  

My classmates, my courses, my professors, my homework, my administrators, my group projects… they are all part of an incredible experience unparalleled to anything else!  I am a master’s student of business analysis at The Catholic University of America!

So the next time you feel like you are coming down with a case of stuck-in-the-muck-itis, remember to take a quick mental escape. Remember what you are doing, where you are doing it, why you are doing it, with whom you are doing it.  I promise you… you’ll find a reason to get excited again and the wheels won’t just keep spinning. They’ll start moving you forward again.

Neil Watson
MSBA Candidate
Class of 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment