Fear and building a bridge

What could a DOT supervisor teach a new employee about fear in building a bridge?

Hi folks. Steve Hammond here from HorselessRanch.com.

Once, while teaching a class on project management, I was trying to emphasize the importance of focus on the next action item. I gave the classic metaphor on how to eat an elephant.

During one of the breaks, I had a fellow step up to me and tell me how he learned the concept. I’ll try to tell it as he did – best I can.

“I’ve spent my life in construction, but I got tired of all the paperwork and headaches of owning my own business, so I went to work for the Department of Transportation.

“The first day on the job, we were to start building a bridge over a ravine. I thought about how people’s lives would depend on us. I went to the ‘Sup’ and told him about my concerns.

“He asked me to follow him to a makeshift table on the hillside where all the drawings for the bridge were. The top page showed a completed bridge with cars driving successfully over it. As he turned each page back, the bridge was one-step back from completion. When he got to the bottom page, there was nothing on the drawing except some footings in a barren ravine.

“He asked me, ‘Have you ever poured footings before?’

“I answered, ‘Of course. Many of them.’

“He said, ‘Don’t worry about anything else. Today we focus on pouring footings. Do what you know how to do.’”

The man then looked at me and said, “All my fear melted away. All I needed to do was the ‘next thing’ which I knew how to do.”

What fear is holding you back from the next action item?

Well, that’s it for today.

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Remember: “I make folks unfireable.”

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