Stinky problems versus serious priorities


I was attempting to bring some order to the chaos when my adult daughter took commanding charge, “Dad, the poop is the last thing you clean up.”

It was an arresting directive amidst the morning’s crisis (which involved her dog doing something in the house during a simultaneous cascade of equally inopportune events).

When things settled down I asked her, “What did that mean?”

Lauren is a nurse, just like my wife, Jackie. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of medical and body function stories that tend to gross me out. This time Lauren's response was loaded with precision and insight for the explorer in me.

“Dad, in the hospital there may be infections, there may be somebody in pain, there may be a lot of other problems going on. Poop smells, but it doesn't hurt anybody. Therefore it is the final thing that you need to deal with."

Indeed, triage will be a critical skill the explorer needs to learn. The explorer will always encounter problems, and the problems will usually compound when it’s most inconvenient.

The problem that stinks the most may not be the one that needs the most attention. Nor may the stinkiest problem be the best opportunity to ease someone’s pain. It requires poise and discipline to not give all your attention to the smelliest problem.

The explorer’s poise and focus comes from preparation and planning. Like my daughter, only with training, drilling and discipline can the explorer read the situation and know the difference between what stinks and what’s a real priority.


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