The Whac-A-Mole Metaphor of Life
When carefully-crafted plans go kaput!
Published: May 29, 2010
Life is just a series of unexpected events.
In my early days as a supervisor I was naive to think that if my team could just get through the latest crisis, we'd finally be able to settle into a nice, easy pace. As it turned out, those periods of calm were few and far between. I tried everything I could to keep things on an even keel but there were always unexpected surprises and events outside my control that ruined my carefully-crafted plans.
While I often enjoyed the challenge of coming up with creative solutions, after a few years the stress took its toll. I was on the verge of burning out and knew that I couldn't live that way much longer. I was at a loss for what to do.
I thought that some time away would do me some good, so I went to San Francisco to visit my friend C.J. One evening after we had dinner we wandered into a game arcade. That was where I played my first game of Whac-a-Mole. Picture a board with lots of round holes. The object of the game was to use a rubber mallet to hit as many moles as possible as they popped up in rapid, random succession. Trouble was, I no sooner hit one mole and three more would pop up and disappear before I could hit one.
I remember laughing to myself and thinking that Whac-a-Mole was the perfect metaphor for my life. Just like in the game, life really was a series of unplanned and often unwelcome events. To think that I could live life without problems was a recipe for unhappiness. I decided right then to lighten up and stop torturing myself by trying to control the uncontrollable.
This week when you are faced with yet another unexpected event, remember the wise words of Roseanna Rosannadanna, "If its not one thing, it's another!"
Barbara Burke is an internationally known consultant, speaker, and author specializing in the “people side” of customer service management.