Two Dozen Basic Management Principles (Part 8)

“Dad,” Lopez said, I would like to run, then play football, er, soccer.” “Okay, Lopez. You can do that. How far would you like to run?” Dad said. “Thirty kilometers.”

Rob Rogers looked at Barbara with a very puzzled expression. “Don’t look at me,” Barbara said. “I have no idea how far thirty kilometers are. You should give Jim Paccia a call. He will know.” Jim was the coach of the high school cross-country team. Rob pulled out his cell phone and left the room. He returned a few moments later with a very shocked look on his face. “You’re sure you want to run thirty kilometers?” he asked Lopez. “Thirty, yes.” Rob’s eyes got very big. Thirty kilometers was nearly 19 miles! Lopez did not understand what the big deal was. Every boy in the camp who played soccer ran thirty kilometers before he was allowed on the field. That was the distance one had to run to complete one lap around the refugee camp. Lopez’ request seemed perfectly normal to him. “Well, if you take a right out of the house and run to the dam and back, it will be about 14 miles.”

Lopez shot out the door and took off running down the road in a borrowed set of running shoes. The shoes made his feet feel heavy and out of control – since he always ran barefoot. He thought that the shoes were in the way. But soon the heat of the blacktop was evident even with the shoes on. “Maybe, they are not such a bad idea,” he thought. It felt good to run again. The air rushing into his lungs seemed heavier, more humid than what he lived with in Kenya. At the same time, he discovered that he could run harder without losing his breath. Only later did he learn that he’d spent his entire life in a high elevation and Syracuse, NY sits at only 380 feet. He felt like he could run forever here and never grow tired. Before he knew it, he reached the dam and turned back toward home. The run back took him up a hill, but he did not mind. Running set him free from all his worries and cares.

About a kilometer and a half from the Rogers’ house, a man stood waiting for him. He knew he was waiting for him because when Lopez ran past him, this man started running with Lopez. “Hi, Lopez, I am Jim Paccia. I am a friend of your parents.” “Hi,” Lopez said, not breaking stride. The man began breathing hard. He seemed to have a little trouble speaking. “Wow, you sure are running fast,” he said between breaths. Thinking that Jim told him that he was running too slow, Lopez kicked it into another gear. The man disappeared in the distance behind Lopez.

After his first run, Lopez begged the Rogers to let him run every day. His first lesson in America came on the second day in the Rogers’ home. Rob came into his room carrying a lamp. “I picked this up for you,” he said. “It will be a little more comfortable for you to sleep with this on instead of the overhead light.” He plugged in the lamp and set it on the table. After turning on the lamp, Rob walked over and flipped the light switch down, turning off the overhead light. “So that’s how you turn that thing off!” Lopez thought. He never slept with either the overhead light or the lamp on ever again.

The next lesson came a few days later. After enduring frigid shower after frigid shower, Lopez found a large pot in the kitchen and filled it with hot water. Rob walked in. “What are you doing, Lopez?” “Getting hot water for the shower.” “We have hot water upstairs too,” he said. “No problem,” Lopez answered, “I can use this.” “Come on, I’ll show you,” he said. He led Lopez upstairs and showed Lopez how to turn the lever in the shower and change temperature of the water. Thank God! Lopez knew that he could not take one more cold shower. Once he had the lever set in the perfect position – he never changed the setting!

Management Lesson #11 – Ask for Help
While it laughable to hear how Lopez suffered because he did not ask for help, we often to the same. Many project managers fail to ask for help due to pride, fear, or laziness. Recognize that you are not expected to work on an island. You are a part of a team. You have been given stewardship over a project and/or group of assets. When faced with the unknown or the unexpected – be willing to ask for help!

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