I am only one...

I am only one, but I am one. I can not do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

- Edward Everett Hale


I hadn’t heard of Edward Everett Hale before, but experience has shown me the Internet is excellent for dealing with this sorta thing. Wikipedia tells me Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 – June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and Unitarian minister, best known for his writings such as "The Man Without a Country", published in Atlantic Monthly, in support of the Union during the Civil War. He was the grand-nephew of Nathan Hale, the American spy during the Revolutionary War.

Now that I have Edward’s identity sorted out I can concentrate on what he supposedly said. I say “supposedly” because I’m fully aware I got the quote from the internet, and sadly, there has to be a small leap of faith in doing so. When I first read the quote I was absolutely certain it was the product of the me generation and humbled by the assumption those who came before us were not quite as smart as we are today (I mean electricity was a novel thing back then). Good thing we have the Internet — it’s a vast achievement that reminds us constantly we do not know all that much, and sadly, we’ve forgotten more than we dare to admit.

The exploration of the human condition has been an endeavour over the millennium so we probably shouldn’t assume Edward Everatt Hale was the first to put pen to paper regarding individuality and its innate power — although he does have a meme so he has that going for him. And because of it, I couldn’t help but put some thought into it.

I am only one, but I am one — a reminder that you are the fundamental building blocks for everything done as a species (or not done), and because of it, you have the potential to do something important.

I can not do everything, but I can do something — an acknowledgement and recognition that you have skills, abilities, and character, and you can achieve something. Alas, it’s also a reminder the universe is rather large, so you can’t everything or do not have the ability. However, there is no excuse in simply doing nothing.

And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can doa reminder to focus on what you have and what you can do, and not be distracted by lamenting or striving for what you can’t. Achievement will never be found if don’t focus on your strengths and abilities.

How does that song go again? Oh yes, “Two outta three ain’t bad”.

I am only one, but I am one — check. Can not do everything, but I can do something — check. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do — wait, what about identifying your weaknesses and developing a plan to improve? Oversimplifying, as I am apt to do, there seems to two philosophical camps; find your strengths and rally all your energy around them, or identify your weaknesses, develop them into strengths, and strive for balance (I belong in this camp). “Find what you are really good at and then go all in to make the most of it” — it’s pithy and I do like the ring of it. Maybe my approach has been wrong all these years, although arguable I haven’t done so bad.

I’m probably going to have to consult with the Internet again but in the mean time this is where I’ve landing —

I am, and that is important. I have talents to do something, and I will. I have been given a lifetime to figure out how to get it done, although it’s not as long as you think.


What do you do when you can't stop it?

I listened to a very informative talk last night by John Englander. I stumbled onto the video as I was checking out the news on YouTube — it’s one of my sources for current events I have to admit. The talk was important, sobering and depending where you live, down right horrifying.


The title of his talk was Sea Level Rise Can No Longer Be Stopped. What Next?

Dr Englander was engaging, informative, and although the topic is linked to the changes in our environment, kept his message on the simple fact that the Sea Level is rising. It is the result of glacier melt off, and when it’s all said and done will rise over 210 feet (give or take) — he emphatically stressed this can’t be stopped for many reasons, including the simple fact it’s one of the things Mother Earth does every so often. He did stress this would happen on a geological time scale so we still had decades to prepare, adapt, or make some important decisions — although not a real silver lining, it did offer some breathing room as far as dealing with it.

At this point I should mention I’m not positioning to offer any commentary on climate change but rather provoke some conversation about dealing with something that is inevitable, can’t be avoided, ducked, or side stepped.

Simply put, what do you do when there’s no choice but to deal with it?

Simply answered, there are two options when this happens: 1) do nothing, surrender, and let the chips fall where they may or 2) do something, and manage out to the best possible outcome (all things considered). It should be pointed out that doing nothing is easy, where doing something is a little more action oriented, and may involve a number of considerations —

  • Recognize what can’t be stopped and accept it

  • Understand the situation and its consequences

  • Establish the best and worst scenarios

  • Develop plans for the best possible outcome

  • Move forward and do not lament the past

  • Muscle it out, dig deep, and work through it

  • Try not to do it alone

  • Don’t quit, because if you do you have surrendered to the worst case scenario

Both of these options are entirely acceptable — doing nothing is recognizing you have given up to the situation and will accept the outcome whereas doing something means you are going to work to make the best of a bad situation. The operative word in this is best because if you aren’t going to do something to the best of your ability I suppose we should have a completely different conversation and you probably should just do nothing — it will save on all the excuses and complaining.

As an aside, if you live on the coast you may want to consider doing something.


What's with all this strategy talk?


Your textThis strategy course is one of the more interesting courses so it makes all the weekend strategy group work worthwhile.

My textHope you’re all more strategic for it.

Your text So I have mentors here.

Your textAnd I look forward to our next calls asking them how they choose what not to do.

Your textAnd how do they see the pitfalls when something lies outside the chosen strategy or how they push back when people want to go down the wrong roads, etc.

Your textHelps give context to the academic stuff.

There seem to be five words, that although extremely important, always cause me to pause, tighten up and prepare for a semantical and contextual entanglement — my experience is their definition offer great delight for the wordsmith, but can cause confusion for those who want to get something done. I only really care about them because they ensure there is alignment ( as well as effectiveness and efficiency) between what you want and what you need to do.

Vision, Goal, Strategy, Objective, and Tactic

I already regret writing them down — it’s like rolling a snow ball down a mountain and imaging the havoc it will create at the bottom; everything caught up in an oversized snowball with feet and arms sticking out every which way. I suppose I should define the famous five, but the internet will do a much better job, so I’m not going to. I should mention I only bring this up because of that brief “text conversation” but now that I’m into it, I’ll be brief.

My favourite illustration of strategy et al is with a mystical land whose ambitious king wants to unite the land under his leadership (his vision) by capturing the island city state of “Gold City” (the goal). To do this he will isolate the island and starve the city into the submission (the strategy) and will do it by the end of the summer (adds an objective and makes it time bound). He will blow up the bridges that connect the island to the main land and cut off the food supply (the tactic). A nice little story to bring the definitions to life don’t you think; that is until someone says the goal is to starve the people and the strategy is to blow up the bridges, and the tactic is to put explosives at the footings of the bridges — let the contextual and semantical discussions begin. As a side note, no one ever mentions the need to add a naval blockade to truly make this work (although I digress).

All of this is very important to know and adopt into your planning because it increases the chance you will get you where you want to go. Lately though, I’ve boiled it down to three questions that still encompasses everything but with less wordsmithing.

What do you want?

What is your plan to get you what you want?

What are you doing to make your plan a reality?

When I say there is less wordsmithing it isn’t to suggest that the answers don’t have to be big, and a little wordy, and require quite a bit of thought — because big visions require big plans, and the grit to get them done. And nowhere in the manual does it say it’s easy.

I did mention I would be brief.