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Business Lessons From My Mom’s Third Husband (#3)

April 23, 2015

I didn’t like him. None of us did. As a second grader, I couldn’t really articulate it. And in fairness to him, at the time I didn’t even understand it. We moved to Alaska from what would be our home base before and after of Washington state. 

Alaska, for a second grader was a great place to live. I remember snow taller than me. I remember icicles on the warehouse next door that were ten feet long. We’d knock them off and then eat them. Yeah, probably not the most sanitary, but I was seven. I remember ice skating on our street. It wasn’t specifically made for skating. It meant that we learned to skate over ruts and around pot holes.

Eventually we moved to the forest outside Fairbanks. Our house had no internal furnace. Heat was provided by a homemade 55 gallon drum that had been converted into a woodburning stove. We also had no interior plumbing. We carried water and used an outhouse. Trips to the bathroom involved boots and a flashlight. 

But, it was not a terrible childhood. In fact, there were things that I absolutely loved and certainly lessons that I have learned. 

We went fishing. I remember one time especially. My step dad, my mom, my brother and I loaded up the pickup with tents and boats and fishing gear and sleeping bags and food. We arrived early in the day and decided to get out on the water and start fishing before we set up camp. The boats, or the boat actually was rubber. We blew up the boats, loaded them with fishing gear and some snacks and headed out on the water. 

I loved fishing. I still do. I also love camping. And I wonder if this trip contributed to that. See, as the afternoon wore on, my mother started to think about the work needed to set up camp and cook dinner. I don’t know if my step father made the decision on the spot, or if he’d planned it all along. But, he decided we were not going back for the rest of our gear. 

I think we’ll just rough it.

What are you talking about?

We’ll just make camp with what we have. 

I’m not sure if we even had fish to eat that night. I do remember the package of sandwhich cookies that my brother and I split. He and I slept in the rubber raft. I have no idea why he did it, but it has remained with me for years. And the lessons I learned have also stayed with me. 

You often don’t have to opportunity to start a project with everything in place. You never, or rarely get to be 100% prepared for a new endeavor. So, what do you do in that case? How do you handle a situation when you don’t have access to all your resources? 

I think about that night, sleeping with just my coat for a covering in a rubber boat. 

I’m sure we went camping other times, we were a camping family. And yet, it’s that night that I remember. We can do hard things. 

In business, it’s not unusual to not have enough information. How do you react? Do you cancel your project until you have optimal situations? Or do you go with what you have? 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one precious grandchild. 
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