Advanced Species


An advanced species of extraterrestrials from a distant galaxy has infiltrated planet Earth. These beings are often cloaked in bright orange or green fluorescent clothing. They are often seen carrying tall poles tipped with disc-shaped antennas which receive signals from their home planet in outer space. Sunday morning I drove from Flagstaff to San Diego, a drive I've done dozens of times. I passed Sunset Point rest area at first light and saw a surveyor setting up his GPS rover on a high bench overlooking the valley below. It was windy, cold and barely 7 am. I wondered what necessity brought him out so early on a Sunday morning. That type of sacrifice symbolizes a deeper loyalty to the mission that's typical for surveyors. We don’t think twice about convenience or comfort and routinely make sacrifices to reach the highest levels of accountability. But best of all, nobody really understands what we're doing and there's something cool about that. The entire 500 mile drive was a struggle as I continue to work my way through Parkinson's. Overall my condition is improving but there are days when the symptoms are almost unbearable. It's going to be awhile before I'm able to operate an instrument or hold the rod steady again. Wednesday Night Beers, when some of the local surveyors gather in the forest, has been winding down as the evenings get colder in Flagstaff. All attention has been on the newest member of the group: Sadie. Sadie is a "res mix" who likes to pick up large rocks in her mouth—large for a puppy anyway. She was picked up on the side of the road by John near Dennehotso, AZ on his way to a camping trip in Colorado. Only a few weeks old, Sadie was just another abandoned, starving "res dog" who somehow made it to the side of the road that day. Her fate as roadkill seemed assured as John passed by, one of hundreds like her he'd seen over the past 25 years traveling to survey projects on the Navajo Reservation. But somehow this puppy was different. His gut told him to turn around and pick her up. He did and Sadie's fate was sealed. John now has a puppy to raise and the other dogs in our group have a new friend. The company I work for, Interstate Survey Group, is trying to fill several surveying positions so I've been pouring over LinkedIn profiles lately. I combine a city name with the word "surveyor" for my searches which return a variety of surveyors. It's hard not to notice how many retirement-aged surveyors there are, sometimes as many as 40%. The lack of surveyors is near crisis-level now. It's not difficult to imagine what the next 5-10 years is going to be like. My boss Brad and I are working on creating short 2-3 minute, periodic video segments to share with our company's employees. We all work remotely so we need tools to help stay connected. In fact, I've never met any of my co-workers or Brad for that matter. Welcome to The Great Resignation. Work from home is here to stay. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the value of failure in the workplace. How can we sustain work environments where failure is not only tolerated, but also encouraged? It's a great way to innovate because failure can often be—and usually is—progress in disguise.

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