I don’t know how much this story has spread nationally, but in Atlanta and reportedly almost all of the southeast, there is a major gas shortage going on. The governors of Georgia, Alabama and four other states have initiated a state of emergency to limit ‘price-gouging’, but that’s not really the issue for most drivers, it’s the fact that there is no gas to be had, regardless of the cost.
How does an entire region of the United States and one of the most commuter heavy major cities in the country experience such a crisis? Because of a single pipeline leak in Alabama.
Colonial Pipeline’s Line 1, the main artery for gasoline from Houston to the southeast including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolinas, is three-feet wide, built in 1963 and is responsible for pumping up to 1.3 million gallons on any given day.
The shortcomings in America’s infrastructure are thrown around frequently in political debate and, while I think they are often overblown, there is no reason that a single 53 year old pipeline should be responsible for keeping an entire region in the richest country ever moving.
This seems obvious, but many of us live our lives and run businesses the same way. If one account goes bad, or one thing falls out of order everything else falls apart.
While I’m certainly no expert on it, I’ve taken classes on and attempted to learn about programming. One of the major keys to building any program is to build it to be ‘robust’ or able to handle unpredictable circumstances and poor environments. For instance, if you enter a huge number when a web form asks for your age, this could crash the program. However, if you take this into account a couple extra lines of coding can simply prompt the user for a more reasonable response.
Robust, for this purpose, is defined as “strongly or stoutly built; strong and effective in all or most situations and conditions”.
Today, I encourage you to build a system to be more robust in whatever it is you are working on. If it’s your business, make sure that you are not dependent on one person or one account. If it’s your diet, make sure it does not crumble because of a single lapse. Have stop-gaps and fail-safes to keep you on your path.
Like in programming, it’s often just a simple change that can reinforce whatever system needs to be strengthened.
For me, of course I’m pouring everything I can into this site to make it a success, but if readership grows slower than projected and limits advertisers, it won’t ruin me or bring me down. If clothing sales from the Clutch Club Shop don’t grow as planned, then I have other streams of revenue I’m working on as a backup.
In life, if I have a busy schedule planned for tomorrow, but an emergency arises and I have to help a family member or a friend, I’m able to get back on track relatively easily because of the flexibility I try to maintain.
One good way to maintain schedule flexibility is to keep a list of tasks you need to accomplish, as specifically as possible, rather than trying to schedule down to the last minute on everything. Keep the list full so you always have something to get to, but don’t stress just because something changes in priority.
“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
That’s just what works for me in that one path though. What works for you and what needs work is probably different for you. Just always keep in mind Murphy’s Law whenever you make your plans. It is not an excuse for something to go wrong, it should be expected and accounted for.
Being robust will help you keep your commitments, stay stress-free, and, most importantly, give you peace of mind that you can conquer any obstacle, even the ones you can’t see yet.
See you tomorrow.