Another potentially controversial entry, today. It may not seem obvious at the outset but it does have a time management dimension, if you stick with it.
Listening to the radio and surfing LinkedIn while otherwise disengaged from the world, two reports outlined a modern phenomenon which I suspect is a consequence of the psychology of modern life.
One report was of a man whose child is being detained in an institution. I know little more, and I suspect that if I were in his position (Circle of Concern) I, too, might be angry. His complaint, which may be perfectly valid, I don’t know, is that his daughter is not receiving the care he believes she deserves. (I’m being careful, he might be absolutely right – we only get the snapshot that he and the BBC want to give us, after all.)
The second is how a Coroner is criticising MI5 for not preventing the London Bridge attack. Again, Circle of Concern stuff – I’m 180 miles and several months away from what happened. But the Coroner is probably not an ex-anti-spy, and probably knows nothing about how big MI5 is and how much it is trying to do with what it has.
Now, I am not saying either party is wrong in their assessment. However, there is one glaring issue arising.
The assumption by the critics is that ‘those responsible’ could have, should have, and must have done better.
Let me go off on a tangent for a minute. When I was a police officer, I would frequently find myself in the custody unit when some under-informed, ill-educated, rights-aware-but-responsibilities-deficient miscreant would be brought in, yelling and screaming. The common statement made by all was
“I wants moi solicitor, now!!”
First of all, he assumed we knew who his solicitor was. Second, he assumed that the Transporter Room facilities were in full working order, and that his solicitor was happy to be beamed away from his bed into the unit, ‘NOW!’
At the same time, we frequently hear about people having to wait for ambulances for an inordinate amount of time.
Well, guess what?
We don’t have a staff of ambulance personnel, legal teams, anti-spies, nurses and doctors available to each of us. There is a finite number of each available at any one time, and they must be available to all of us. And when they are dealing with one of us, the others of us have to wait unless and until we are able and willing to engage such staff out of our own pocket, or ‘our’ emergency trumps ‘theirs’.
But in our world of immediacy brought about by instant news and communication by a phone in our pocket and a car each (as opposed to the ‘old days’ of reliance on public transport and the re kiosk at the end of the road that required cash input), we have unconsciously drifted into an expectation that the world must revolve around us, and NOW and MINE and AVAILABLE are demanded, despite all three not, necessarily, being possible.
(If you think I am wrong, ask yourself how often you’ve been talking to someone and a third party wanders up and starts talking to the second party without even an “excuse me”. That, my friend, is how mobile phones work.)
I think it’s about time we gave ‘other people’ the same respect we expect them to give us when they demand something of us NOW – which is ‘ I’ll get to you as soon as I can’.
If you manage your time well, you can serve more people. But you still can’t serve everyone simultaneously, and you don’t belong to them even if (as some will insist) ‘I pays your wages!’
So remember, when you are sat somewhere demanding something of someone, consider how you feel towards someone who demands that of you – and give the people from whom you seek a service the same respect for what they are trying to do with their resources, that you would expect from them as you utilise your own.
If you have time and resource challenges, so do they.
Time is finite. Resources are finite. Unfortunately, hindsight is infinite. But hindsight is a poor and harsh critic.
So don’t surrender to it. It just might be true that NOW isn’t possible. Now go to your cell and shut up……..