I’ve only glimpsed the back of my neck once in the past year and a half. Once is plenty. It happened by accident in the fall of 2020, in a chair at Great Clips. I thought: Better prepare the barber for a shock.
“Spinal surgery. A C3-7 laminoplasty,” I said. “I’ve never summoned the courage to look at it.”
“Here, I can help with that,” the barber said cheerily, angling the handheld mirror so I could see.
Oh. It looked like somebody planted an ax in the back of my neck. Good thing I had to sit in the chair while my hair was cut. Even then, I was somewhat shaky walking away. Not a little-unsteady shaky. But I-hope-I-don’t-keel-over shaky. I never looked again.
Despite the jarring sight, it was still good to be reminded. There is a certain amazed pride in surviving an ordeal. I sometimes say to my wife, out of the blue: “I still can’t believe that happened.”
It’s a handy phrase when processing difficulties. Like nearly two years of COVID craziness, or the Jan. 6 insurrection. It doesn’t mean I doubt the reality — far too much of that already. Rather, it’s like a slow whistle of appreciation, almost awe. Wow, remember that? Did that really happen? Amazing.
That line came to mind reading Cyrus Freidheim’s new book, “Commit & Delivery: On the Frontlines of Management Consulting.”
Not a book I would typically pick up. A management guide, filtered through the soft focus of retirement. But its author used to be CEO of the Sun-Times and gave me a copy. “Commit & Delivery” shares Freidheim’s business wisdom culled at places like Chrysler, United Airlines and Amoco.
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