Thinking Outside the Box


Recently, we decided to simplify our life. This idealistic objective warranted its own task force. The project was to downsize from a 1-acre home with too many bedrooms to .25 acres and just enough space to not feel claustrophobic. I was the task force. Work during the day; sort, donate, and pack at night. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1.

It was fun???

Still, I learned a fair amount during this arduous process:
1. While we thought we were minimalistic in terms of home gear, we were not.

2. While we thought we were relatively organized, we were not.

3. While we thought we were somewhat skilled in assessing the best way to create efficiencies, we got stuck in the ways we had always done things.

Sound familiar?

The obvious lesson: it gets messy before it gets simplified. Secondary takeaway: being open to change is harder than it looks.

I can’t tell you how many times I placed an item in the Donate pile only to wake up the next morning and move it to the Come With Us pile. After several long work days, I often thought of abandoning the entire “simplifying” project and deal with it later — after we moved.

Another learning: this process did not bring out the best in me. It amplified my impatience, stubbornness, and heel-dragging tendencies. It wasn’t pretty.

Figure 2.

Still I did it. After what seemed like ages, I assembled a pile of overpacked boxes. (See Figure 2.)

Today, I stand staring at the same cardboard nemeses — in a new location. It seems they multiplied like rabbits in this new, smaller space. When unpacked, their contents will reveal whether my simplifying exercise worked; I have a sneaking suspicion it did not.

But before I take the next step in this stupid, self-induced simplifying snafu, I must come clean. For years, I’ve urged you to be open to change and approach network evolution, transformation, and simplification, with a positive attitude.

I apologize for my Pollyanna-ish preaching. I am an utter failure at walking my talk. This simplifying thing kicked me in the ego. Even self-induced, it is far more difficult than it appears.

P.S. Please see my attempt at making amends with this extra-apology PR2019C code for complimentary attendance to ISE EXPO 2019, September 24-26, 2019, in Fort Worth, Texas.



About Author

Sharon Vollman is Senior Vice President, Editorial Director of ISE magazine. She oversees all editorial processes and staff for ISE magazine, the ISE e-newsletter,, and leads the educational content development for ISE EXPO and several events. Vollman has created educational partnerships with the major communications and entertainment providers including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Cincinnati Bell. She has covered the telecom industry since 1996, when she joined OSP magazine as editor. Prior to that she worked in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and CME. Vollman has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/advertising from the University of Iowa.

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