My office was recently painted. My administrative assistant decided it was necessary to update the institutionally beige four walls after more than seven years. Now, two walls are on the beige-ecru spectrum, while the other two are “Russian olive”-colored. My boss, a retired Army colonel, is not pleased that my walls are painted in a shade named after his Cold War enemy. I doubt he would find solace in learning, as I did via Google, that the paint color is named after a plant with silvery-tinted leaves and fruit that can be administered as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. I can’t speak to the color’s affect on arthritis, as I’m not so afflicted, but it has a soothing effect on my nerves.
I used the paint job, and its requisite furniture moving, as an opportunity to sort through files, recycle unneeded paperwork, and create fresh To-Do lists. This also had a soothing effect. A clean and freshly painted work slate is a good salve to frayed nerves.
This episode of “fresh-starting” at work coincided with the end of my 90-day “clean living” plan. As I wrote about previously, since January 1st, I’ve been trying to reduce my caloric intake, particularly of the carbohydrate variety, and increase the amount of flora in my diet, not including Russian olives. I’ve worked hard to update the interior of my body so that it looks as nice as the walls of my office. Figuratively, of course. I commemorated the moment by getting a blood test to validate my efforts.
These moments have been opportunities for both managerial and personal reflection. As a manager, I have spent the past nine months in a full-immersion program learning and applying the principles of Lean management (Google it). Mock if you must, but I believe there is some magic in this particular work philosophy, and I know it is – however slowly – making me a better leader. I still have much to learn, but as I look over the newly organized pile of tasks, I am renewed and energized with a new set of tools to take it on and make a difference.
Personally, I’ve been both surprised and pleased that consuming green stuff has become routine, even desirable. I enjoy my daily kale, spinach, chard, and berry breakfast smoothie, and I even look forward to my lunch salad. The me of six months ago would scoff at and be dismissive of the very notion that I might find pleasure in the regular consumption of leafy green vegetables. The me of April 1st, is – no fooling – more than twenty pounds lighter than that guy. Pretty cool.
Of course, life has a way of not being simple. While the new paint, tidy office, Lean knowledge, and leaner physique have been invigorating, they have been offset by a pair of harsh realities that fall on the enervating side of the emotional continuum.
At work, I have been faced with a situation that has consumed much of my time, attention, and emotion. I will not go into details here. Suffice to say, it is troubling, and I don’t see how Lean management philosophy can help me find a solution.
At home, I was dealt a crummy hand yesterday when the results of the aforementioned blood test arrived via email, revealing a very high level of “bad” cholesterol. That was a WTF? moment as, for 90 days, I worked out twice a day, ate salads and green smoothies, and avoided – mostly – the sinful snacking I had been prone to, and yet I am told it wasn’t enough. In fact, the number is significantly higher than the last time I had my blood tested. Again, I ask, WTF?
Both situations can be managed. Through my efforts and the help of other talented, caring, committed people, the work troubles can be resolved. And with the help of my doctor, I can implement a plan to address the cholesterol challenge. I’m certain of both. I’m hopeful, confident, and ready to face these challenges.
For tonight, I will keep calm and grill on. The burgeoning Spring brings better weather and tonight was opening night of barbecue season, and that means ribs. Yes, I know, pork spareribs may not be the best choice given my cholesterol situation, but I am still in the denial phase of that bit of news. If necessary, I will work through the anger, bargaining, and depression stages. I anticipate a lengthy period of bargaining, but not tonight. Tonight, it’s all about the ribs; no discussion.
I put a fresh coat of rub on three slabs of St Louis cut ribs this morning and let them wallow in it for four hours. I spent the afternoon – five hours of it – carefully tending the fire and breathing in the perfume of roasting pork, spices, and smoldering apple wood. I put my primal skills of cooking over fire to work and wallowed in the soothing effect of the “plumes of wood smoke curling aloft,” carrying my anxieties away for a night. Deep breath in…and exhale. So much to be thankful for and excited about. A little salad might go nicely with those ribs.