Hard decisions are easy to make

This week I had an experience that got me back to the blogging board. I play in a pool (billiards) league once a week, and sometimes I get called to spare for another team in a league above mine. When I do get the call, I get a bit nervous as I don’t want my play to affect the team’s score in a bad way, as it is a team game.

This week I got the call, and was put into a situation that made me write this post.

It was my turn at the table and I was in a position where I had a few options for my next shot. They were:

  1. Take the easy shot, with doubt of what my next shot would look like;
  2. Take a more difficult shot that would leave me a better option for the next shot;
  3. Play a safe shot, leaving my opponent with a more difficult shot of his own.

pool1Of all the games that I’ve played, this may have been the most nervous I have been for some strange reason, trying to decide what to do next. Now, I am no expert at the game, as this is only my second year playing competitively in the league. Experience played a factor in my decision for sure.

Option 3 was high risk as I was playing against the second-ranked player in the league. The cat and mouse game against him was not something I wanted to get into, as the outcome probably wouldn’t have worked out in my favour.

I chose option two.

I missed the shot, but the worst part about it – the cue ball ended up where my opponent had a clear shot for his last ball, which he made. He closed me out and I lost 10-0.

I was miserable, knowing that I had let the team down. After thinking and talking it over with the team later on during the match, in hindsight I should have just taken the easy shot, made the point for the team and worried about my next shot afterwards.

I thought about this for a day then realized – this is exactly the thought process I go through when similar options occur in my work as e-Learning Contact. Oftentimes, I am faced with challenges that are more difficult than others, but I still choose them because I know what the next steps would be once they are successfully completed. It may take longer to reach the end goal of that difficult challenge/obstacle/hurdle (call it whatever), but it is certainly more rewarding than going with the easier decisions that are on my checklist.

Don’t get me wrong, there are simple tasks in all of our job descriptions, and they do provide a level of satisfaction when completed; just not as much. And worst of all, once those easier tasks are done, the decision then becomes what to do next?

I relate this to my experiences of trying to implement educational tools within my school board for the classroom that are often met with restraint; formal processes; etc… Although my requests may not be met initially with open arms and excitement, the task at hand then becomes figuring out how to show key stakeholders why these tools would benefit the teachers and students.

Getting what I think is needed into the classrooms or should add least be considered is no easy task, which brings me back to my pool match. Could I just take the easy way out and avoid the difficult shot?

Yes.

But that’s not who I am.

In the end, all I want is the best for everyone. I am fortunate enough to be in a position to have ‘some’ influence in the vision of what we need as a system as we journey through and beyond the 21st century. If all goes well and any of the tools that I advocate for are brought into the system, the next steps are much more rewarding for everyone, and the choice of taking difficult shots are then worth it.

3 Replies to “Hard decisions are easy to make”

  1. What if you take the risky shot and then end up with O365 at your board? Would you have really let your team down then! hehe

    Great reflections, Pete.

    In my tiny board, I’m at the point where my ‘shots’ at convincing people need to be really well planned and executed. If I just keep harping about it I only become annoying and they don’t want to hear anything about it. LMS, Google, yeah yeah, bla bla bla…

    1. Thanks Tim for the reply. I can relate for sure.
      It’s funny because in my first three years in this job, a lot of people reacted exactly that way – blah blah blah. Most didn’t even pay attention to or even know what I was doing. Now that I’m more active in schools and making informed recommendations on future decisions for a lot of things edtech at the system level, people know me now. Hehe.
      Its going to be an uphill battle for years to come, and I feel that if I don’t voice my opinions then I shouldn’t care as much and go about my business with status quo. But we all know if that happens we just end up even further behind the 8-ball then we already are.
      The days of being reactive are no longer acceptable. Its time we all be proactive and voice the needs on behalf of teachers, students and everyone in education.

  2. Good thoughts, Pete.

    Taking the easy shot in our line of work isn’t a great idea, you’re right. Short-term gains aren’t usually sustainable, and they may be counterproductive.

    I spent a few years trying to “get everyone on board” and I’ve since come to realize that we’re playing a really long game here. Sometimes giving people that first, raw experience turns them off of a platform because of technical problems, and it’s a greater struggle overall.

    I think of the folks who “tinker” with technology (or anything) before it’s highly reliable – you know, the teachers who used Wii remotes to hack together interactive whiteboards, or the ones using makerbots today. Those teachers just need a platform and a direction to run in. But *most* people want something that works every time without needing maintenance. We’re always somewhere in between, but we need to be more to the plug-and-play end before a particular technology becomes ubiquitous.

    And I ramble. Good article. Don’t play for just this shot; play for the whole game.

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