• James Walton

Broken Plates

Every night at 7pm exactly, we go to the park outside our house and make noise for 60 seconds. This little ritual developed as a way to honor the medical professionals on the front lines of COVID-19. Our children are very enthusiastic about the permission to make as much noise as possible.


Yesterday, we ran out of pots and pans to bang, so one of my kids grabbed a dinner plate and a large spoon. 45 seconds later, he was left with a spoon and hundred shards of porcelain at his feet. Pro tip: don't bang on plates that hard.


I extracted him from the mess and set to clean it up. The shards were sharp and embedded in the cracks of the sidewalk and the grass nearby. It's like if someone set off a glitter bomb, but the glitter had fangs.


And so I had a choice to make. I could clean it up half way and hope for the best. Or I could ensure every last bit was out of there.


The benefit of doing it halfway is getting on with my day a little quicker. The potential risk of doing it halfway is sending someone to the ER with a porcelain shard embedded in their foot. 


The benefit of doing it all the way is preventing someone else's day from being ruined. The potential risk of doing it all the way is the cost of the careful, mundane work of cleaning up.


We're faced with choices like this all the time. Will we let it slide? Or will we make it better? Will we pass on a situation better off than when we found it? Or will we hide behind anonymity and pretend it's not our responsibility?


As leaders, it may not be our fault, but we can always take responsibility for making it better.


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