Sunday, August 07, 2005

Structure Damage

Some people are high structure people.

High-structure people like to know what they're doing and when they are doing it. They like to make a plan and stick to the plan. People who like structure make "To Do" lists and actually do them. They not only do them. They update them, sometimes on an hourly basis. High- structure people find comfort in their structure. They understand that not everyone does things in the high structure way they do, but It shakes the structure some that they can't figure out why.

When things go according to plan, high structure people know the world is turning as it should. Change the plan, and they have to redo the paperwork. Don't tell them the plan, and they get frustrated. Throw high-structure people a curve, and they suffer "structure damage."

I took that name "structure damage" from a sign on an old bridge in Clearwater, Florida. The sign said, "Speed limit 15 mph--Structure Damage." Exceed that speed limit and the structure would no longer be damaged--it would collapse. I figured the same worked with the high-structure people I know.

I am a low structure person. Throw me a curve ball, and I usually respond with "No worries." I move a little to the left and let the ball fly by, or I catch the ball to see who might have autographed it. Still I have to admit that on occasion I too, have gotten bent over someone messing with my structure. The occasion tht jumps to mind was really the silliest thing.

I had plans for a business trip to a trade show. The seat assignments were in my briefcase. The trip was a few days away when a friend on my development team decided to attend to the same show. The team assistant booked the new traveler's flights and did me the favor of moving my seat forward in the plane next to that of my friend. She sent me an e-mail to alert me to the change.

Noises went off in my head. Connie, the assistant, hadn't asked whether I wanted to change. Maybe I didn't want to change. I didn't even know if I wanted the change. Sure the new traveler was my friend, but . . .

I went outside for a walk to sort out my thoughts. My problem wasn't about not being consulted. It was that I had already buttoned up my picture of how that trip was going to happen. The stressing over the change. I really would enjoy sitting by my friend. I really did prefer sitting further forward in the plane.

My problem was that I had to repaint the picture in my head. My problem was all about change not about Connie taking liberties. I had fallen victim to structure damage. I slowed down. I repaired my structure, and I thanked Connie for being thoughtful.

It's good that I experienced my own structure damage. It helps me to remember to slow down when I see others do.

The sign said, "Speed limit 15 mph," or the structure might collapse.

—me strauss Letting me be


Anonymous said...

I have to stop admins from doing the same. Planes are not the place for conversation.

Anonymous said...

Airplane conversations are for bonding not for working. Many folks these days think on airplanes as places to sleep and find space. It's good to let people choose whether they want the space. My oak tree is plenty company for me. The longer the trip the less I want company.