Thursday, July 15, 2004

two quick lessons

Two quick lessons from the past 24 hours


Rabbit Trails


I had a complex financial report to do this morning.  Got it done and was off by precisely $50.00.  Ugh.  Where's the error?  Combing the data, I found one individual entry for $50.00.  Aha, I say, that has to be it.  I missed it or double entered it somehow.  Search and search.  I did that entry correctly.  Reviewing the more mundane entries, I discovered I had mistyped a "2" instead of a "7" in the tens column on a totally different part of the report.  Boom.  The $50.00 error was real but not where I expected it. I wasted an hour trying to confirm what I was sure was true. 


Lesson:  The culprit is not always where I think it is. Test the conclusion before landing on it. 




Those of you who know me even a little bit know I have an avocation for umpiring Little League baseball and I've been doing this since the mid 80s.  July is a busy month with tournaments.  Last night, I called the balls and strikes while a veteran umpire I've known for 8 years sat in the press box, just above home plate, literally looking over my shoulder, taking notes.  After the game, he had several pages of comments.  Some good.  Many on details I need to work on.  "Hold you hand higher to indicate time out."  "Move your right foot farther forward with a left-handed batter at the plate." For about 15 minutes.  Fine points, unnoticed by any fan and most players.  Yet part of excellence. 


I know a lot about umpiring.  Yet I relished the input from Tom.  Why?  a)  I trust him.  I know he acts with my best interest in mind.  b) He has competence.  He's worked high levels of baseball.  c)  I know this is key to improving.  I have to have someone who is beyond me to teach me.


Lesson:  Find a mentor.  Someone who will shoot straight with you in an area you seek to excel.  In Lean terms this is called a sensei or teacher, (who might tell you this ).  I'm increasingly seeing there is no way to true excellence without such a teacher. 


I hope this is helpful. 


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