At 1:30 AM Saturday morning a loud rustling in the woods behind our yard woke me. I went to the bathroom window and looked. I was still sleepy, so I shook my head to make sure I was not hallucinating.

A large person, with a faint light, was trudging through the woods, just beyond our property line. Every few steps, he, and I knew it was a man by the painful noises he made as he fell onthe brier filled brush, rocks, logs, and stumps. He was moving from my right to left. Just about three feet to his left was our property line, a complete
clearing. I know the area well.

My back is recovering from clearing the one hundred foot by one hundred foot area between our grassed yard and this wooded nature preserve / wetlands. In 2004 I cut down about eighty scrub trees, grounded the stumps, cut the oak for fire wood, chipped the rest for paths, cleared all the brush with a "Gravely", a monster machine able to clear trees 3" in diameter and less, and herniated a disc.

Before I yelled to ask what was wrong, I thought of the neighbors' young children. My voice might alarm them. So, I got the phone and was ready to call the police if this person started acting dangerous. After he made his final two falls, he cleared the woods and walked on a path to our other neighbor's house. I saw relief in his body and realized it was a neighbor, most likely following his disobedient dog through the woods.

What puzzled me was the danger and discomfort he subjected himself to by not walking through our clearing. Perhaps, and I hope this is not the case, he feared getting shot for trespassing. Perhaps he was unaware. Maybe he was so tired and preoccupied, he could not assess the situation with rational thought.

Stress, mental models and perceptions can keep us from seeing clear solutions. The first stage of good dialogue includes checking one's thinking, to determine whether thoughts are fact based or opinionated. People more readily agree on facts. I've
seen clients' opinions, often in the form of e-mail; wreak havoc and destruction, much like our poor neighbor did the other night.

Without looking up, communicating, checking for understanding, and trying new options, we can get stuck on destructive paths. I'm fortunate to help people and organizations identify and clear obstacles with communication, leadership, teamwork, and problem solving.

If you have upcoming projects where these can help, it'd be great to chat!


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