The Defining Moments series looks back at the biggest events of 2010 to see what we can learn from them here at P&P, to work better in our calling, in 2011 and beyond.
Where were you on Wednesday, October 13, 2010?
Im willing to bet that, at least at one point during the day, you were staring at a television screen, watching a tall, narrow metal cylinder on a long chain, from which, at long intervals, men in sunglasses periodically emerged.
Thirty-three men, trapped half a mile underground in a caved-in mine in Chile for 69 days, were the center of attention for the world: millions of people watched online and on television, while every one of them was brought out, rescued safely and brought back above ground to their families.
They were essentially buried alive for more than two months. Just the thought of that is enough to make your skin crawl, and to start a feeling of panic building in your gut. But these men didnt panic. They didnt lose it. They didnt do nothing. They didnt stay stuck.
They followed schedules of sleeping and waking. They kept themselves clean and neat. They set dining and living etiquette rules. They prayed. They built a desk from a vehicle hood where they could write. They recorded videos. They ran miles every day.
Even in the most hopeless, stuck, terrifyingly claustrophobic conditions, you cant just throw in the towel. Well: you can, certainly. But you can also NOT. And in so doing, you can succeed.
Think about the things that frustrate you the most – make you feel like youre stuck. At work, its probable that youre waiting for things outside your control. Your project is being held up waiting for approvals. The product you work on is getting hung up by regulatory issues. The budget has been cut because of the economy.
You could take those restrictions and give up – or, you could look them in the face… and then look around them. There are many things you cant change or improve, no matter how much you may want to, or how right you are. Nonetheless, that doesnt mean you cant change or improve anything.
Stop staring at the problem thats keeping you stuck and look around it to see what you can do.
You cant change the mind of the FDA, you cant find a million dollars in a filing cabinet, and you cant turn a legal and regulatory review into a Siskel-and-Ebert thumbs up. (If you can? Give me a call!)
But that doesnt mean you cant take any action. You can develop plans for what to do, depending on each of a variety of different responses from the FDA. You can look at lower-cost ways to still get the same goal accomplished. You can realize that your review team are a bunch of human beings who are all working toward the same goal. And you can remember that if 33 everyday guys can become the living definition of defying their circumstances and refusing to give up, things like that are the least that you can do.