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A glass containing half its size in water can be perceived as “still a lot left,” “half empty,” or, as the joke about the engineer or project manager goes, twice as large as it needs to be.

It’s all about perspective.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were devastating. I don’t want to minimize that. And rather than just look on the bright side, I got to wondering, just what did Mother Nature have in mind when she created hurricanes?

From Motherjones.com: [One good thing about a hurricane is that] “By stirring the ocean, tropical cyclones also cycle nutrients from the seafloor to the surface, boosting ocean productivity and setting the stage for blooms of marine life.”

Wow, that is so cool: The hurricane comes along, stirs the ocean floor like a witch stirring her cauldron, and the ocean’s productivity blooms!

Almost 10 years ago, when I worked with clients in their homes, a former client in Brooklyn contacted me.

Leah,” she said, “I need your help again. I need to find my father’s tallis* for my son’s wedding.”

Embracing the challenge, we worked hard tearing the two-story brownstone apart, looking in the most unlikely places. In our search, we ended up tidying the closets, moving furniture, cleaning dust, recycling papers, finding money, and refolding towels in the kitchen and linen closet just in case the tallis had snuck in there and was hiding.

After 5 hours, we threw our gloves away, wiped the sweat from our brows, and gently put things back where they belonged. I was secretly worried she’d be too unsatisfied- we hadn’t found the tallis. Much to my surprise she said,

Leah, this was our best session ever. I am so glad we did this.”

I smiled gratefully, relieved she wasn’t upset and departed. It took me some time to realize why this session was more satisfying to her than our previous 9 sessions where we had stated a goal and achieved it, even surpassing it in many cases. This time was different. We weren’t in control. The tallis could have been literally anywhere, and we were on a treasure hunt to find it, unearthing random things in our search. It was like playing hide and go seek with someone really good (or really small).

In life, there’s the beauty of a regular sunny day. And then there’s the calm after the storm. Somehow it’s different, more beautiful because it’s earned, maybe. There’s peace and beauty where there was chaos before. Where there were high winds and pounding rain, there is sun glistening on each blade of grass, shining somehow brighter than ever before.

So what’s all this got to do with Joumor and productivity?

For any project you do, whether it’s doing the dishes, your taxes, or launching a new client program, explore all tendrils related to it. As we spoke about fortifying your infrastructure last week, there are many things you can do to make whatever project you are working on that much easier/more optimized next time, even if you pursue them randomly instead of tidily.

Get a folder for those receipts.
Set up a spreadsheet.
Replace the threadbare towels that don’t dry.
Reorganize the cabinets so they’re easier to use.
Test the program from start to finish and make changes along the way.
What else?

Those of us who didn’t have a hurricane destroy our homes are lucky. But in solidarity with Mother Nature, get sloppy. What else is related to your project? Explore that and see how strong it is infrastructure-wise, how prepared you are for the next time. Dump that one file on the floor or shake that scary overstuffed bag out onto a towel on the bed, and see what’s what.

If the normal, orderly, little by little way doesn’t work for you, maybe you need a “hurricane.”

May our messy disasters unearth our truest productivity.


*A traditional Jewish garment used by men during prayer.

PS, Tempted to create a hurricane but scared what you’ll find? Ask me about the Joumor Intro Strategy Session.

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