Learning to Be a Ditzy Blonde

On the side of my vertigo medicine bottle, it says “This drug may impair the ability to drive or operate machinery. Use care until you become familiar with its effects.” It should say, “You may become a ditzy blonde.” One of the side effects of this medicine for me, is that I become a little scatterbrained. I’m not accustomed to being scatterbrained. I need to adapt.

This shows up in a variety of ways. I sometimes forget common words just after I’ve taken the medicine. I don’t forget for long—only about 20 minutes. The short-term memory loss is gone after 20 minutes, and then I’m fine. If I’m delivering a keynote, I try to time the medicine so I take it after I’m done speaking. So far, that’s worked. If I’m leading a workshop, I try to take the medicine just before a break or during a break, and then either have a simulation or a debrief post-break, with the debrief questions written out. That works okay. If I want to drive the conversation someplace and it’s too soon after my medicine, I sometimes forget the words. Oh well. I ask the participants for help. I can live with that if I don’t stagger.

But the more interesting issues of being a ditzy blonde is when I don’t have my normal schedule. If I’m not in my office, or not at a client or not at a conference, I might be in trouble. This past Sunday, I went grocery shopping in the morning. I left the house without taking my medicine; I’d forgotten. I started getting depressed on the way to the grocery store.  About halfway through the shopping, I started staggering, lurching, and getting dizzy looking at the groceries. And then I realized why. I had forgotten to take my medicine.

I’m not excited about the ditziness. I could live without that part of the medicine. On the other hand, I like walking without bumping into things. I really like giving the command to go straight and actually walking straight! I’m willing to make the tradeoff of managing the brain ditziness in order to walk straight.

And, now that I have some data about needing to keep to a schedule, and data about the lack of medicine, I can manage my schedule and my life more carefully.

Being adaptable for me, means being much more careful about my environment and my timing. For my agile colleagues, that’s what iterations and small stories do for you, too. You’ve created a system that allow you to be successful.

If you are trying to be more adaptable in your life, consider what you need to do in your life to create an environment that allows you to be more successful. Do you, like me, need to constrain more pieces of your environment? Do you need fewer constraints? Do you, like me, need to constrain some of your timings? Do you need to loosen some of your timings? What else do you need to constrain or loosen?

Gather some data. For a long time, I thought I could manage my vertigo with enough water, diet and sleep. Certainly food and water help. But they are not enough for me. If they are part of the answer, but not enough for you, think about what else you need to create your adaptable life.

Being a ditzy blonde is not how I used to think of myself. Well, neither is being handicapped. Rethinking how I see myself is the part of my adaptability. Loosening how I see myself, while tightening my environmental constraints so I am more successful is adaptability for me. And that will lead to more success, which is what this whole life thing is all about.

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