You probably know the 5-P’s of success: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I believe that and try to apply that principle to my life and work. Below is a humorous illustration of  the consequences of not planning properly. *

Dear Sir:

I am writing concerning your request for additional information. In block number 3 of the accident report form, I put “Poor planning” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I needed to explain more fully, and I trust that what I am writing below will be enough.

As you know, I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Instead of carrying the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which I attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. I went down and secured the rope at the ground level, then I went back up to the roof, swung the barrel out, and loaded the bricks into it. Next I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. (You will note in block number eleven of the accident report form that I weighed 135 pounds.)

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.

Somewhere in the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. That accounts for my broken finger. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground – and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Without the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighted approximately fifty pounds. (I refer you again to my weight in block number eleven). As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. Again, in the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the bruises on my legs and lower body.

When I passed through the barrel it slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell on the pile of bricks and fortunately only three ribs were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the pile of bricks in pain – unable to stand and watching the empty barrel six stories above me – I again lost my presence of mind – I LET GO OF THE ROPE!

The point: Think things through from beginning to end.

Jamie Jenkins

*The origin of this “letter” is unclear but it seems to have been around for a long time and several variations are readily accessible on the internet.