Yes, it was a pain in the patootie. Always is. I spent most of the day trying to get the "oxen" out of the ditch (and then, only with the help of my wonderful neighbor who has a MUCH bigger "ox").
But, the situation caused me some introspection. Surprised? These oxen-in-the-ditch events sometimes occur in our personal lives, sometimes in our professional lives, sometimes in our organizational lives.
They happen when the following conditions exist (independently or in combination):
- When we quit paying attention. Occasionally, we get distracted (for any number of reasons) and make decisions that put us in a jam.
- When we make risky choices, gambling on the outcome. Perhaps we try to force things a bit too quickly, or take chances that are dicey at best, or feel like the cost-benefit analysis is worth the risk, or insist on holding to old but untenable ways of doing things (think Polaroid and Blockbuster here).
- When contexts change on us without our knowing it. Sometimes conditions/circumstances shift outside our field of view. We are simply minding our own business and the world changes on us unexpectedly.
We all are subject to these catastrophes. Rarely is there loss of life or limb (thankfully). Often the experiences cost us mightily in time, effort, and expense. ALWAYS, how we react and adapt to the situation determines the ultimate outcome.
What is most important, however, is what we LEARN from the event. That will most likely determine the frequency and severity of the next oxen-in-the-ditch events.