Thoughts from 37,000 feet
Climbing to 37,000 feet a few minutes after a near incident over the Minneapolis airspace must take a lot of courage, right? Wrong. Its called itinerary. Temilade and I were really scared (as was every other passenger in the 757-200 flight from Boston) when the aircraft suddenly grew a mind of its own, danced around vigorously and then the pilot made for the skies even as everyone expected touchdown in seconds. I was really scared that we were going to crush the cars on the bridge just before the runway but the pilot’s words a few minutes after the struggle brought a bit of what looked like calm; he said he decided to delay landing because of gathering storm and that we would have to attempt landing again. Thunderous claps filled the plane the moment its tyres touched down and I couldn’t help seeing the reaction of the lady by the window — one of many such across the length of the 757. We strolled towards the gate for the connecting flight and kept discussing the near incident but I couldn’t help laughing at the fact that we were actually getting on another airplane — and crossing the atlantic towards the UK this time. Since reading was the closest therapy to help ignore the fear of climbing thousands of feet within minutes of what looked like an airforce acrobatic display, I was quick to grab at least five newspaper titles.
Reading through almost by the page, I was able to replace the fear for heights with the opportunity to learn mopre about what was happening around the world while I returned to the classroom — and while I spent the weekend setting the tone for my future (hmmm…. “The Surprise”). I read today’s editorial of the Financial Times with surprise written visibly on my face, not only because the headline was “Democrats must choose Obama” but because it said, “The party has waited a long time for a politician like Obama. Enough already”. Maybe that levels the playing field considering the fact that Hillary’s on Larry King Live tonight — the night before Another Super Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal’s feature, “India’s Economic Engine Shows Signs of Fatigue,” quoted government forecasts for economic growth rate for the fiscal year that ended last month as 8.7% and I agree with the authors that this isn’t good for India’s ambitions (even though the team that came for the Harvard course would disagree with me). The UK Daily Mail told the story of how the Bank of England is trying to prevent a 1930-like depression by injecting 50 billion pounds into the financial system “to halt the threatened mortgage meltdown.” And my favourite: Randall Stross’ “Punch line for the digital age: Take my e-mail. Please!” in the International Herald Tribune.
The article describes the dilemma that increased numbers of eMail present. Even though many have been arguing that the simplest solution to the surge would be the same applied to increase in work volume for executives — a secretary/assistant — I think the real solution may be in the ability of the busy executive to organize or sort eMail to know which ones need personal attention and those that can benefit from the gift of delegation. Randall wrote about “e-mail bankruptcy,” a situation in which the user literally deletes every eMail in his/her inbox and starts all over again. My experience with a new system in which I archive some eMails in a folder called “unreplied” (which holds eMails I intend to reply later but are now increasing in volume) has shown that things may only get worse as more people join the eMail communication chain. The ability to sort eMail, keep the inbox tidy and understand the thin line between necessity (what’s important) and addiction (itchy fingers on the blackberry) will go a long way in helping everyone whose life has been flooded by eMail. If your laptop, blackberry and/or other eMail-friendly devices don’t talk to each other (“synchronization” must be a familiar word), you need to consider doing that also because, even as age-long wisdom teaches, central coordination reduces duplicated efforts. The captain has switched off the “fasten seat belt” sign, the ever-smiling crew are rolling the wheels and I guess its only wise to keep this laptop away and enjoy the meal…