Deborah and the Starlings – Chapter One

Deborah sipped her latte with satisfaction. “Thanks for this Jack, I always appreciate the chance to chat with you, but you have to let me buy next time.” She gave her longtime colleague a stern look.

Jack chuckled and held up his hands in mock surrender. “OK, OK!” He looked at her curiously. “What’s going on in your world these days? You seem a bit down.”

She shook her head. “A new team has been formed and I’ve been put in charge of it. We’ve had two meetings and I’m ready to throw in the towel.”

Jack nodded slowly. “You sound pretty frustrated. What’s going on?”

“It’s more what’s not going on. We’re supposed to be getting things done and all that’s happened in two meetings is arguments about stupid things. Yesterday I got to listen to a twenty minute debate over whether we should be using the word “change” as a noun or a verb!

Jack shook his head. “That must have been painful.”

“There’s an understatement! Deborah sighed deeply. “I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a birder and I have a habit of giving things bird names that fit how I experience them.”

Jack smiled. “Tell me more.”

“I think of this team as starlings.”

“I wouldn’t recognize one if it dive bombed me. Why starlings?”

“They’re an invasive species that gathers in large, noisy groups. Most people, like me, see them as irritating pests.”

Jack chuckled. “I won’t ask what bird name you have for me. Seriously though, this is obviously a real challenge. What are your thoughts on how to tackle it?”

Deborah paused and said quietly, “I have no clue, I’ve never felt so frustrated and out of my depth.”

Jack looked at her intently. “Would you like some help? I’ve known you a long time and I have no doubt that you are equal to this task, you just need some help in discovering how to tackle it. If you would like I’d be willing to meet with you for an hour each week and we can walk through this together.” He paused for a moment. “You’re a birder. Imagine that you are now in some foreign land looking to check some items off of your life list. Think of me as the guide that will help you get to the right spots so you can find what you are looking for.”

Deborah looked thoughtful. “You know more about birding than I realized. That sounds like a great offer. Getting this team working properly is really important. A lot of things are riding on this and I don’t want to be the reason that it fails.” She smiled, “But I buy the coffee, OK?”

Jack nodded, “Done!”