Why is it that with exceedingly educated experts, deeper knowledge, understanding of the world, striving innovations, and continuously improving technologies we are still FAILING? Why do we keep making the same MISTAKES? Well, Gawande summarizes this in his book called THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO. The problem isn't that we are getting hit by karma, but we are beign sabotaged by the intricacy of knowledge--the theory furthuer than what we can understand--that has surpassed our capacity to interpret, predict the unexpected, and transmit it to the people. Therefore, in his book, Gawande debates how the easiest and most logical way to battle this is through a simple CHECKLIST.
One of the main reason we FAIL is because we overlook some steps, which lead us to make the dumbest mistakes. The problem comes when we are trying to save time and we either merge steps or ignore others--steps that don't seem that important or we look at them as simple--in order to advance faster. In this precise moment is when we are setting ourselves up for failure. This inconvenient is mainly observed when we use long overwhelming checklists that have multiple tasks and the clock is ticking; therefore, Gawande suggests how the best CHECKLISTS apply the rule of thumb: keeping it to between five to nine items (which is the limit of working memory). Shortcutting is not a SMART move, so you want to keep your checklist brief by focusing them on ''the killer items''--steps that are dangerous to skip (because they are crucial) and even so are sometimes omitted (Gawande).
Most of the times FAILURES are a "result not so much from IGNORANCE (not knowing enough about what works) as from INEPTITUDE (not properly applying what we know works)", Gawande mentions. Thus, CHECKLISTS help us apply the ample knowledge we have CORRECTLY. We are sometimes so pressured by the unexpected moment or emergency that we apply the wrong method, medicine, strategy, or ingredient at the wrong situation even though we completely dominate or have expertise in the field.
Finally, the CHECKLIST method is not all PERFECT, it has it's flaws. Gawande, even though he mentioned many reasons it has helped different people succeed, comes to admit the imperfections of the CHECKLIST. One of the problems I have--I bet many do--is that I get fixated with checklists, I create many of them (for anything) and I follow them word by word. Instead of using them as an aid or guide I see them as a bible. This is something I came to realized last semester working as an event planner. CHECKLISTS can be very limited because every situation is D I F F E R E N T and UNEXPECTED things can arise. The dilemma is that CHECKLISTS are made for a certain situation or specific moment, they aren't F L E X I B L E. You have to be able to known when you can use them and when you need to abandon them because they are useless. CHECKLISTS can ONLY be used for the situation they have been written for, otherwise you have to use knowledge and past experience to come up with a solution or procedure.
Gawande will not only teach you how to improve your communication at work, to avoid making dumb mistakes, or how to apply the knowledge you have correctly at all times, but he will also captivate your attention with his personal experiences as a doctor in the ER. He shares real anecdotes of how CHECKLISTS have changed many hospitals and even pilot's landings. This book has taught me many things that will help me with event planning, and in general for organizing. Don't miss this MUST READ by Gawande.
And just like that, quicker than a snap, 2015 hit me. Even until today, my brain can't process how fast time has passed; it seems like it was yesterday when we started SENIOR year. Today, it's just a countdown game until graduation day. In exactly 6 months--well really 4 if we discount the 2 months of vacation--I will be out from high school and off to college. It's terrifying yet thrilling. There are so many things I want to do before summer is over; in these last months I will leave my last FOOTPRINTS, and I want them to be REMARKABLE.
Because I love checklists a common thing I do every new year (in January) is to make my NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS list, which include my GOALS and DREAMS that I aspire to accomplish. This year my LIST is a bit different from the usual because I'm ending the most important journey of my life, but I'm also starting the most inspiring adventure; therefore, I want this list to be memorable because whatever I do in the first half of this year will be the closure of this first journey. I don't know exactly every point that will be in the 2015 checklist because I'm not familiar with the new path awaiting me; however, I do know that in these two months I have F R E E, I want to CHECK OFF the list these things I've been craving to do, these things that inspire, and these things that will bring meaning to my life. So here goes the first half of my checklist.
It's typical of me, and of many people really, to say that in this new year I will change my exercising habits. Yes, I'm the typical person who says they will start going to the gym and after a few weeks quits the job. I've always set this bar high, but I've never been able to reach it,and there is a simple reason: I'm not MOTIVATED. I haven't found that routine or that activity that makes me want to stop what I'm doing or jump out of bed to exercise. So, I've decided that this upcoming week I will try three different things: YOGA, RUNNING, and WORKING OUT ROUTINES with my sister. Once, I find that activity that inspires me, I will make a commitment to follow up with it for rest of the summer. However, having a healthy living style doesn't only include exercising, but also drinking water. Believe it or not I don't like water, and when I am thirsty I go for juice. Nonetheless, if I'm pushing myself to meet that high bar I also have to start drinking water. It will be hard, but worth it.
On April this year I will be taking my last internship for the IA and I want it to be inspiring. Fortunately, during my last internship at Young & Rubicam I was able to accomplish this; I was not only inspired by beautiful work and the company's culture, but I learned amazing things about marketing and I was submerged in a one kind experience. I was able to intern at a dream place and purse something I loved, marketing. This year I want have another fascinating internship; therefore, this summer I want to take some time to explore other passions and areas I'm interested in and hungry to learn about, and then start contacting some places to find that DREAM internship. If I'm going to be an intern for a month I want this experience to be meaningful, I want something that allows me to explore areas outside my comfort zone, that extends my knowledge on topics I's curious about, and most importantly, I want an internship that pushes me to learn and challenge myself.
During school time I don't get to spend time with my FAMILY; this is because I'm too busy catching up with homework. Therefore, I want to take some time of my summer--now that I don't have piles of workload waiting for me in my desk waiting--to learn from them, help them, and spend some time together.
During the feedback session I was told that I stress out to much, and this year I want to challenge myself to forget about STRESS. Therefore, I've started to plan more short term, instead of long term only. I've bought an agenda, which displays all days of the year and I've begun to write down short term tasks to complete long term goals. So far it's going great and I'm planning to make it a habit; therefore, let's see how it goes.
Finally I want to take on a challenge, a project, or learn something new. I am not quite sure what it is right now-- maybe learn language, take art classes, make my photography book, or simply learn a little more about business--but I want to accomplish something that at the end I will be proud of. Last summer I took photography lessons and for my final photography project I took pictures showing what summer in Peru means and it was a WORTHWHILE experience. Hence, I want to do something very similar this year, only that better.
I know this doesn't encapsulate everything and every NEW YEAR RESOLUTION I want to accomplish this year, but it does encompass most of the things I want to do in this vacation and how I want to close up this first chapter of my life.
Do you color code your notes? Do you create weekly checklists? Do you have all deadlines in a calendar? Do you get frustrated with last minute changes? If you answered yes--to at least three of these questions--you are just like me, an ORGANIZING FREAK.
Sometimes your biggest strengths can be your biggest weaknesses. Even though my organization skills have helped me succeed, they have also thrown some obstacles in my path. Like I mentioned in my POL, I relay too much on plans because I am obsessed with having things under control. I am too STRUCTURED. From the crowdsourcing grades session I received a lot of feedback that made me realize that when I plan intensely--like I always do--I FALL and get ENCAPSULATED in box. When I enter this box I become exorbitantly FIXATED with my plans and with following them. Complications arise when things FAIL or expected situations happen another way, I then become ANXIOUS. Under these rare situations I I tend to mold and channel the situation, so it faultlessly fits my plan, instead of molding and modifying my plan to concur with the situation. My problem is that I get too attached to my plans, and when they don't workout it's hard for me to let them go because this means I am not in control and I have to act instinctively--this scares me.
So I want to EMBRACE this weakness and endeavour this challenge--I want to leave the box-- so that I stop beign squared and structured because this makes me |CONCEALED|. However, this doesn't mean that I need to let my MESSY side kick more in, all this implies is that I have to trust more my talents and capacities to improvise and use the plans to remind me of the most crucial aspects that have to be covered. If I conquer this skill, and learn to control it instead of letting it control me, not only will my stress levels drop significantly, but I will also be able to learn how to act INTUITIVELY in moments of pressure.
One of my main sources of STRESS is over planning because I am so aware of everything going on that I get caught in the work clutter instead of working it through and reducing it. Also, I get very stressed when UNKNOWN situations approach and my plans don't work, so I freakout. This is exactly what happened in my POL I was under pressure, things didn't go as expected, and I was trying to channel the situation towards my plans--I was trying to make everything happen how I practiced it-- instead of acting in the moment INSTINCTIVELY. I was afraid that I didn't have the moment controlled, so I got even more nervous. Therefore, I am challenging myself to preserve my organization and planning skills that are strong, but to use them prudently--not over use them. By learning to plan and organize the right amount I will be able to give my presentations a more human touch and I will be able to stay aware of my deadlines, but not OVERWHELM me with them.
Your greates talents and strengths can sometimes be your biggest limitations when you abuse them. I need to learn how to use my skill WISLEY and not over using it because when I go to those extremes that's when I fail and I stress out--this stress affects my performance. Working on my weakness will be challenging considering that is one of my strengths too and this is something I've been using my whole life to keep me on top of things. However, once I find that MIDPOINT, that's when I the hard work and rough path to get there will pay off.
We talk about INNOVATING and fostering CREATIVITY, but when someone takes a different turn society T A L K S. We are terrified to LEAVE our comfort zone because we don't want to be the NEXT topic of societies T A L K S. However, a year ago, I decided to BREAK the NORMS, challenge the TRADITIONAL, and take a RISK, so I decided to embark myself in the Innovation Academy journey. With my last two years of school in front of me and my college future, I decided to put everything on the LINE because I was tiered of fulfilling society's expectations and following the CLASSIC path that everyone--like sheep--follows. Today, after a year and a half, I look back and see is how REWARDING this experience has been, and how I've tremendously changed as a person. Today, I'm TWO weeks away from receiving college admissions notifications. Even though I'm scared how society--especially this traditional and norm based system--will view me, because I BROKE some established norms, I look back at my experience in the IA and I realize how every minute has been worth it.
If we continue walking on explored ground, we will never discover new wonders. Yes, risks are part of the package, but great compensations come in as well. Through the IA I've been able to discover myself more in DEPTH and truly understand who I am and what defines me. TWO years ago I was completely S C A T T E R E D, I had no clue what were my passions and what I wanted to do in life. The IA has given me the opportunity to experiment different paths, and different strategies to work around those paths. As I've failed, learn from my errors, and gotten a taste of a variety of experiences, I feel that I have gained a sense of DIRECTION and I have a better clue of where my destination is heading. This is why, this past year, I have worked towards developing the tools and finding the perfect route to reach that destination. I was able to give my college search more meaning, because I had a VERY clear IDEA of what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to accomplish that. If I would have stuck with the path that is already build for us, instead of building my own, I would STILL feel SCATTERED and I would STILL have no clue of my DESTINATION. Sometimes we NEED to leave the BOX and the SYSTEMS, and take RISKS, because the VALUABLE experienced come from CHALLENGING society's expectations and from breaking the NORMS.
With such a RACING and ACCELERATED world it's hard to stop at times to do nothing. Everyday, as I complete the tasks on my agenda, there are more things that approach--it's like an infinite list. I always have something else I can do. For example, this past week was extremely stressful, I was burned out by Friday because I had millions of things DUE. Even though I had completed all the BIG and major tasks I still have work to complete on the weekend, work is never ending. When I have emptier days--like these ones--I spread out more my work, but I still spend time doing something. There is a thing in my brain that pushes me to work every minute that I have free because otherwise, when I relax or stop working, I have a small guilty conscience that I am wasting my time. However, this is not true doing nothing at times can increase productivity more than working endless hours nonstop.
"THE BEST WAY OF COMPLETING A TASK, OFTEN, IS TO LOOK AWAY FROM IT; IT'S THE PAUSE IN A PIECE OF MUSIC THAT GIVES THE PIECE ITS BEAUTY AND ITS SHAPE"