I’m currently living a bit of an unconventional life. I’m involved with a number of different organizations (for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations, and organizations that aren’t formally anything (meetup groups, online communities, etc.) and I actually spend a lot of time working in a city 1,000 miles away from where I live. Needless to say, I haven’t had a surplus of tv-watching time lately!
And with all those activities and related stress, I’ve had a string of amazing days for the last few weeks and months. I’ve been engaged in really interesting and challenging work with multiple amazing groups of people. In addition, my wife and I have been really busy with life events (significant birthdays, minor surgeries, etc.) and seemingly nonstop travel.
All of that is good, especially because I’ve been able to avoid the deep lows that we all experience from time to time. I’ve had some moments where I’ve been short of sleep and where I know my temper has been too close to the surface, but I’ve been really happy with my awareness and ability to control it.
But today I was pushed to the limit — the good news is that the the limit stayed firm. What pushed me there wasn’t anything particularly terrible that happened to me personally or that had disastrous consequences. It was just that with one of the organizations I’m involved with I experienced someone pulling what Dr. Paul Farmer, in his book “Mountains Beyond Mountains” refers to as a ninety-nine one hundred. (As an aside, you really should read that book and donate to Partners in Health — they do amazing work to bring first-rate health services to the poorest individuals in some of the worst environments on Earth)
What is a “ninety-nine one hundred”? Basically, it’s when someone quits on a nearly completed job. Nothing bothers me more than that. We all face these trials and it can become pretty fine-grained where you measure one hundred, because at some point you do need to turn off the computer and recharge. I’m not talking about that granularity. What I’m talking about is someone who quit right at ninety-nine and clearly thought about their actions and intentions beforehand. The funny thing is that the organization where it happened will be just fine. They’ll work together to do the best they can. I honestly believe that the biggest disappointment will be felt by the 99 — I think they’ll look back a few years from now and wish they had finished the job. Not because of references or anything that impacts their personal (nonprofit / sports / job) career; rather, just because they’ll know they dropped the ball at the critical point — at the point where the pressure got high and they were put to the test. Although they passed that test before, and they’ll likely pass it again, I think they’ll know that they can’t rely on themself at those critical points, when the extra effort that would have been required was really pretty much a rounding error.
Try to go for 100. Or… last least four 9’s 🙂