Taking time

I dropped my daughter off at camp today, which is located about 35 miles north of where I live. Since I work about 35 miles south of where I live, camp day always means a lot of driving. Every year I feel rushed and guilty for arriving late on the job, so by the time I reach the car after I’ve made up my daughter’s bunk and said my good-byes, I have one thing on my mind: getting to work as fast as I can.

Today also happens to be my grandmother’s ninety-eighth birthday. That’s right, she’s 98. She also lives about 15 miles from the camp, in a little town that lies squarely in my trajectory to work. Even so, I was prepared to let passing through the town serve as a reminder to call her to express my love and birthday greetings.

As I reached the town’s edge, I found myself thinking of a friend who very recently lost his mother. Late or not, I couldn’t squander an opportunity to tell my grandmother I love her. Instead of continuing doggedly down the highway, I turned my car into the parking lot of a floral shop and bought my grandma a bouquet of summer flowers. Then I headed to her apartment and gave her a hug.

I’m glad I took the time.

Happy birthday, grandma.

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Dangerous assumptions

As I mentioned in Look Before You Leap, checking your facts or checking your assumptions before plowing ahead can save you from dangerous situations. Sometimes the danger may be to your credibility or your ego, but the danger is real all the same. This video is a great reminder that even when the facts seem obvious, you might be surprised.

Look before you leap

When I first saw this sign during a recent trip to Brazil, I laughed and reached for my camera. Really? I thought. They actually have to tell someone this? I snapped the photo and moved on, forgetting about it until scrolling through my photos this morning.

It still makes me chuckle, but my hyperanalytical brain started searching for deeper meaning. All of a sudden, I saw it as a metaphor (surprise, surprise). Have there been times when I jumped into what I thought was a waiting elevator, only to plummet down an empty shaft? Or to alight on top of a car that has almost, but not quite, arrived?

You bet.

My particular elevator isn’t major life decisions, investment strategies, or some other grandiose endeavor. I tend to think about those long and hard, erring toward the conservative side. No, my elevator usually involves my mouth. When I’m on a roll, you might find me jumping into an argument or a discussion having taken a “fact” or two for granted. Given my ponderous nature, I feel particularly humbled when I discover I’ve jumped into an empty elevator shaft without looking and have to climb out rumpled and rueful.

Whatever your elevator, check your facts and take nothing for granted. Don’t jump in blind.

I guess the sign isn’t so silly after all.