There are times when your goal or destination seem so close that you just want to press on even when you should not. The experience that prompted this post was driving back from Jacksonville to South Florida. This trip usually takes 5 hours or less but on this particular day, progress was slow and we had gotten away late. There was much construction and lane shifting, lots of traffic, and a howling rainstorm that seemed to follow the entire trip. Though Melissa was traveling with me and would not have let me fall asleep at the wheel, I was tired. My eyes were tired and fighting the traffic, driving defensively, was not helping. And, the next segment of the drive, in more densely packed South Florida, was looming. So, only about 1½ hour from home I decided we needed to stop for the night to rest and let the storm abate. It was a strange feeling to be that close, to “throw in the towel,” but it was the right choice. We had to wade through the underwater parking lot to get to the hotel, but we did. We dried off, contacted the cat sitter to have her feed the cat 1 more night, and called for pizza delivery. I have no idea the name of the pizza place, but it was a wonderful reward after a stressful and tiring drive. Making it home the next morning was easy and the day was productive. And, though it still seemed strange to have not made the drive as normal, I realized it was wise to play it safe and stop. This is one of the benefits of working with one’s spouse. We were traveling together so that it was not the case that one of us would be stuck without the other, on the road another night away from home. And, it occurs to me that this situation is analogous to other situations when it is playing it safe to take a time out. There are times when it is tempting to press on and work a little later, to “give it the old college try,” but often when we do that, and later review the work, the quality was lower than it would have been had there been a rest break to overcome the fatigue and stress of work. So, when you get to the point that you are close, but not done, realize that sometimes you just have to get over it and press “pause” instead of “play.”
Many years ago, Magnus consulted on a case involving a terrible airplane crash in which hundreds of people were killed. The crash was primarily the result of pilot error, more specifically, the pilot’s decision to “press on” with the flight despite weather conditions that made flying dangerous. Although there were several safe alternatives the pilot could have chosen, he chose to stay the course and, in doing so, lost his life and killed all of the passengers and crew aboard his jet. This is a tragic example to illustrate David’s point: Sometimes it is better to veer off course, take an unplanned detour, delay one’s arrival to the final destination, etc. than to continue with one’s original plans if doing so will, in any way, compromise safety. I am almost always in favor of sticking to my plans, arriving on time, and most important, being home whenever I can, however, there have been many times my plans changed due to inclement weather or other forces beyond my control. During one of these times, I have learned it is best to accept the consequences of the decision to stop short of the final destination and, if possible, try to enjoy my unplanned surroundings. And, when there is a good pizza parlor near one’s unplanned stopping place, sometimes the delay in getting where I’m going isn’t so bad!