Do You Choose To Be Pre-Stressed or Flat-Bedded?

Trigger Question #18

“I’m fine. I’m just pre-stressing for the week ahead.”

. . .

Have you driven past a semi towing an empty flat-bed trailer? Of course you have. It’s just the nature of distribution systems that what goes full comes back empty. But that’s not my point.

Have you noticed that the empty flat-bed trailer is not flat? Look carefully when you pass one and you will see that the bed is visibly convex. Or, if you prefer, arched. Why is that? Because a heavy load will flatten the bed and so disperse the weight evenly across the trailer, enabling the trailer to carry a really heavy load. At least, that’s my simplistic physics explanation.

Obviously, if you are only carrying light loads, then a flat flatbed is what you need. Believe it or not, an arched flatbed trailer struggles with a light load because the lighter load cannot flatten the arch. And because the bed stays curved, the load cannot sit flat, but wiggles and wobbles dangerously. Just like that annoying teetering table that spills your coffee when someone bumps into it.

When I drive past one of these curved trailers, I like to imagine the trailer is pre-stressed, awaiting the next heavy load. It has already got its back up in anticipation.

That’s how some of us behave at work. We walk around pre-stressed, with our backs up, expecting the boss to dump more work on us. Instead of on the lazy buggers who never seem stressed or have their backs up.

What gives?

Well, I could tease you by saying that, like those arched flatbed trailers, you were designed to carry a heavier workload. So, suck it up.

But that will not be helpful. And it’s not true. You were not built that way. You became that way. You became pre-stressed, and you keep your back up, because of the following reasons:

  • you can always do more than others
  • you have a successful track record of carrying heavier loads
  • you don’t know how to unload
  • you won’t say no
  • you think it is too risky to refuse
  • all the above
  • or some other cause

Whatever the reason, your boss now assumes that you can carry a heavy load and will always be willing to do so.

You now have three options. Disabuse your boss of this assumption. Be proud to be one of the celebrated Big Boys/Big Girls who carry the large loads with seeming ease. Or start again as a flat flatbed somewhere else.

But I must warn you that the easiest option is to carry your heavy load. Why? Let’s consider the arched flatbed trailer again. As I explained, they did not design the arched flat-bed trailer to carry lighter loads, which is why it can make a hash of it.

The same with you. You cannot go overnight from being an admired pre-stressed heavy-lifter to being one of those lazy buggers who still get your back up.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

. . .