Suds May Spill, beer should not

"I have never had to face anything that could overwhelm the native optimism and stubborn perseverance I was blessed with. " — Sonia Sotomayor

One of my best clients and I were enjoying the start of our day at a local coffee cafe. We covered a range of topics and one stood out because it seemed to be common across many of my best clients.

First, I must define a common trait of my best clients. They get things done.

Because of this they are always rewarded with more requests to get more things done.

This system invariably leads to this problem: my client was worried because "things are starting to fall on the floor." He was confused because this seemed to happen suddenly.

I used a metaphor to solve his confusion.

I said imagine we are at a brewery, perhaps like the one I visited in Dublin, Ireland where I learned to pour a "perfect" Guinness. It is best not to even let the foam fall over the side of the glass, but hey, sometimes it does. However, it is a sin to overfill the glass such that Guinness falls onto the floor.

He understood. Until recently, he was able to take on more and more without significant impact. The valuable tasks he took on were pushing out the suds, the less valuable tasks, out of his glass. This was not a problem.

Now his cup was really full and tasks of real value were overflowing beyond his capacity. His Guinness was falling on the floor.

With that sense of fun and clarity we were able to quickly move into solution mode. We tackled two questions. First, I provided guidance on how to better judge the size of his glass such that he could deal with the incoming requests, and their value, better.

Then, we tackled an even better, and more fun, question: how to make his glass, his capacity, bigger for more valuable tasks.

This begets some questions for you. Is your glass full? Are suds overflowing? Are are things of real value spilling? What are you doing about it?

It is great to hear from readers. Let me know your answers.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT