I’m a meddler. That’s my confession of the day. I’m a meddler. Simply defined, I just can’t bring myself to leave things alone. I am always, relentlessly plotting and scheming a “new way” of doing something. I have an inner built in belief that everything can be improved upon. I’m not bragging, it can actually be quite annoying. It has served me well, this tendency to meddle, in some areas. Engineering and design come to mind. An aptitude to meddle is a valuable commodity there. It pays well and can be highly valued. Not so much by the meddle-e as it is the meddler. It works well where things are seemingly broken. It is just plain annoying where things are already fixed.
I’m watching with great interest the meddling that is now reportedly taking place here at Starbucks. Howard is back and charged with the task of meddling them back to the basics of what made them great. That was of course before someone meddled them out of greatness. See that’s what I mean about when meddling crosses the line to annoyance. There’s a fine line, a tipping point if you will, where you are precariously perched on the edge of greatness for a time until some well meaning, too much time on their hands, meddler comes along and knocks greatness into absurdity. The grand McDonalds experiment with pizza back in the 90’s comes to mind. Who thought that they could compete in that market? What the heck was that meddler thinking? How about putting beef back in a hamburger? Now that would be a return to the glory days.
I envision the delicate balance and timely restraint in much the same way as I have experienced water skiing. Assuming that one is starting at least partially submerged in the water, there is a decent amount of effort that needs to be expended to get upright as the boat accelerates. When you are up, where you are supposed to be, there is balance and strength and a bit of patience involved to successfully navigate within and sometimes through the wake of the boat. All things can be fine and you can at least exude some level of competence to those on shore. But then confidence overcomes common sense and the meddling begins. Meddling with the laws of physics I mean. A slight meddle maintains balance. A major meddle brings disaster. A one hand move here, and a backwards turn there and you become just like all of the other amateurs skipping like a rock across the surface until the rapid deceleration brings you right back down beneath the waves, coughing and sputtering, and looking totally ridiculous.
The frustrating point for me is that I usually can tell when that moment is approaching. I know when just one more turn will snap the bolt off and I’ll be in really deep. I feel it coming and the inner voice says “stop” the meddling, it’s just right, leave it alone”. But I just can’t help myself. I have come to believe that with a few exceptions, there are meddlers and there are maintainers and more often than not, they are different people. The meddler can’t maintain and the maintainer can’t meddler, but the world needs both. After all, you can only maintain something for so long before you need to meddle a bit to keep it balanced. Think water skiing.