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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Art of getting Things done


I knew a brilliant scientist who accomplished very little compared to his potential. He thought too much, way too much. And he thought about everything that could go wrong. He went so far that he never got started with his experiments!

I knew another person who was a great cook. But, for him to get started he had to get everything right. If I request that he make potato curry, and if fresh potato from a particular farm in Idaho was not available that day, I may as well forget potato curry.

Personally, I aim for perfection too. But, am willing to accept less than perfection. I know that the effort needed to move something from 99% correct to 100% correct increases exponentially. If I insist on 100% perfection, I will not get anything done.

Some physicians have the habit of “getting ALL the information” before they make decisions. I knew one such physician who will not even see the patient until all the old records were in her hands.  Yes, we should insist on collecting as much information as possible about patients. But, there is a risk of waiting too long for information and also a risk of having too much information. Medicine is the art of making decisions with incomplete information and under uncertain conditions.

One of my professors used to say: “Yes, do collect all the information. But, if you wait too long to make a working diagnosis and start treatment, you may have a perfect diagnosis, but there will be no more patient to treat”! You know what he meant.

I found a similar situation this week when I lead a seminar on legal documents every family should have, such as a will and a power of attorney. It was obvious that all of them knew what documents they should have and what needed to be done. But, some of them did not have these documents completed or updated. Of course, there may be different reasons for different people. Some of the expressed reasons I know are:

“Inertia”.    That does not say much!

“I am lazy”. This is more honest.

“I need more information”. This is one reasonable explanation. Sometimes, it is an excuse for inertia or laziness. Sometimes, there is a reason the person does not want to get the job done. That may be fear or an ulterior motive. Often, the person does not even know that there is a problem.

“I am only 50 and am not planning to fall dead”.  No one does! But, life is unpredictable. Since this has to be done anyhow, why not get it done? And, it is common for us not to want to think about death and understandable why all of us think we are immortal.

“It is too expensive”.  Another legitimate issue. One has to think through, but cannot avoid some papers such as a will. You may find a cheaper method. It is better than nothing; but may create problem later.

“It will be somebody else’s problem”.   Clever excuse, but irresponsible. 
"The Lord will take care". No, no, no. Some one here on earth will have to take care. That some one is more likely to curse you than wish you a Heavenly residence. But, then you are not here to care.