Leadership and Main

Bettering Others and the World You Live In

Catching Eggs

catching eggs

Catching eggs…an unexpected concept that I read about today.  We are on vacation this week for spring break.  When at the beach, I always try to pick a book to start reading. 

This week’s selection, Outlive by Dr. Peter Attia.  I’m just getting into the book, but he leads off with an interesting story about a reoccurring dream that he has.  In the dream, he is on a sidewalk in a big city.  He is attempting to use a padded basket to catch eggs that are falling from above. 

Frantically running back and forth, he catches some and watches others splatter on the ground.  He gets so overwhelmed with trying to save every egg, that he has no clue where they are coming from. 

Ever felt that way in leadership?  You get too busy trying to catch eggs and you miss everything else?  Here is a short and sweet vacation thought on the process of catching eggs in leadership:

Find the Root Cause

In my unprofessional opinion, here is my diagnosis of his dream…he was so busy trying to save every egg that the source of the problem was never discovered.  Through the chaos and confusion, he just couldn’t see it.  It was raining eggs and he didn’t know why!   

Dr. Attia is a medical practitioner who started his career as a surgeon for pancreatic cancer.  He got out of the business for a period of time because he didn’t think he was making a difference.  He was prolonging life by days, weeks, or maybe months, but not curing the disease. 

Then, he changed his approach and got back into the field.  He wanted to do better this time.    

In the book, he talks a lot about our failed approach to medicine and health.  Too often we treat the disease after it is too late.  He calls out four diseases that we catch too late:  cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease.  All of which he feels like are better treated if detected early…if the root cause is found early in the process.

Ultimately, he desired to start working on who or what was dropping the eggs versus saving some and losing too many. 


His dream reminded me of a stark reality of leadership.  Too often, the franticness of the chaos and confusion produced in the busyness of our worlds leads to a reactive approach.  We get caught trying to save as many eggs as possible, the three P’s:  people, projects, and problems.  While our efforts save some, many others fall to the harsh reality of destruction and/or discouragement.

We become so distracted by the chaos and confusion at hand, we never sit back and diagnose the real issue.  The underlying symptoms are there, we just need to analyze the bloodwork of our organization and its people.  The hardest part…getting into the space and the place that allows us to be in position to figure out the root cause of our diseases. 

Saving eggs is a noble and valent effort.  The challenge is that with each one that is saved, it comes with expended energy that could be allocated more effectively.  While we may lose some in the process, finding the root cause to the diseases we experience in our leadership should be at the forefront of the diagnostic process.

In the medical world, early diagnosis and preventative approaches are key to saving many lives, versus only a few.  In the leadership world, early diagnosis and preventative approaches save organizations and their people.

Stop catching eggs.  Find the source.  Save many, not a few.        


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