Lessons From an Injured Knee

I love to dance. Unfortunately, I tend to get a bit carried away, and I got carried away after speaking at the Wisconsin PDCA Convention. The convention mixer had good music, and those Wisconsin guys knew how to boogie. I managed to dance with each one of them — twice! Unfortunately, I had to limp back to my room. I kept limping until I had orthoscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Compared to the old dice-and-slice methods, orthoscopic surgery is amazing. For my procedure, I didn’t need general anesthesia, and I had minimal post surgery discomfort. Indeed, hopping around on crutches became the worst part of the whole experience. However, after turning a positive eye on it, my labored motion became a good learning experience. It made me recall some interesting business and personal insights that I share with you now.

Lesson No. 1 — sit down, stay put, and don’t get up until you're done. Have any of you noticed how many folks in the building industry have the fidgets? You know, can never sit still and do just one thing at a time. That’s me. My husband calls me his little hiccup. Those of us who have the fidgets find that we often get sidetracked from the task at hand. In my case, the sidetrack can range from picking tomatoes in my garden, to feeding the birds, to getting the mail. As we work on tasks, we bounce up and down, interrupt ourselves, and often those we with whom we work. Well, crutches limit your bounce-ability. I had to stay put! Predictably, I produced particularly well on those things on which I tend to procrastinate. I got caught up on my marketing and wrote my QR column!

Second lesson — don’t start a project until you have everything you need in hand. When on crutches, this lesson hits home quickly, because you can’t use your hands to carry much. I had to think about all the resources I needed because the crutches made it too difficult to scramble about. Forget one part and the whole process abruptly stops.

Third lesson — Of course, knowing what you need requires a good plan. I had to develop a clear intention about what I wanted to accomplish before I started. This often becomes the most difficult task. Although I know that with good experience and insight, I can plan well; as a fidgety person, I often learn as I go rather then envision the path. In some ways, I seem to have more fun using my frenetic energy rather than planning. But, with increasingly sore arms, I knew a good plan relieved the pain.

Lesson four — stop and do nothing for part of each day to give your creative side a chance to contribute to your success. I found that because of the difficulty in moving, I didn’t. Instead of fidgeting while sitting, I just sat, which gave way to sitting and thinking. Many of us have so much to do, that we rarely take the time to contemplate our situation. Yet, research shows that creativity takes contemplation and incubation to blossom. My sitting brought forth some pretty interesting ideas and perspectives on my business and my life. I might have missed out on them had my surgery not forced me to sit still.

So, unlike me and one of my workshop attendees who leaped up in the middle of class to proudly tell me that he finally sat down and got his job descriptions written after he’d broken his ankle, I hope you can learn these lessons without breaking some body part.

But then, whatever it takes.