It’s been a crazy couple of years. Life just keeps coming at you, you know? It’s really relentless.
But I’ve been trying on a new philosophy that’s been helping. Let me tell a story that explains it.
A few jobs ago I was responsible for a huge number of videoconference systems. I had to keep almost 200 of these systems spread over a 3000 square mile area working all the time.
Mostly, I asked the people nearest to the systems to go onsite and plug things in or reboot as needed. But sometimes there was nothing else to do but go there myself to fix a problem.
Almost all of the systems were one type. But there were 3 or 4 systems that were a different type, and I wasn’t so familiar with how to fix that different kind of system. My peers in the other region had dozens of this kind of system, and they were very good at fixing them.
Sometimes I would ask one of them for help. And sometimes my peers would sabotage me, by changing passwords and being unavailable to help me when I asked for help.
I had a lot of stress about what to do when THOSE systems broke. I just didn’t know how to fix them.
So one day, I was called to go fix the system there. I was so scared and nervous about how to fix it. I had no idea, and the people who I might call for help would just as likely lie to me as help me. I went into the system full of fear, with a customer leaning over me complaining about how it needed to work right now and it hadn’t worked for a long time.
I poked at it. I got to a certain level. Then I didn’t know what to do next.
I had been revving at the highest level, freaking myself out about how much I didn’t know these systems. I decided I needed a part from Radio Shack (remember those? They figured prominently in that particular job) and that was the only next step I could take.
I looked up what stores were in the area, and whether they would have the part I needed. I was very stressed about it, and was having some trouble finding a place that had it in stock.
And then I just got tired. I was so tired of drowning myself in panic over what might happen, I just decided that no matter what it would be ok.
I tried that on for a little bit. I drove to the first Radio Shack, and they had closed down. I held on to my peace–the idea that everything would be ok. I drove to the next Radio Shack, got there before they closed and bought the part.
I rode in the eye of a hurricane, with peace surrounding me because I just couldn’t sustain all that worry. The intimidation of the new technology; the hostile environment of my traitorous co-workers; the unreasonable expectation of the user on site–I let them all fall. I thought, “I am doing the best I can. There is nothing else I can do. If I stop freaking out, I will actually be able to think about solving the problem better. Let’s try that.”
So I did. And it wasn’t perfect, but I jerry-rigged the system into 99% functionality, got the users grudging approval and got the job done.
I’d like to say I changed my outlook after that. But really, for years to come I spent more time in the hurricane than the quiet eye.
Except for now. I’m trying it with more determination. What if I decisively choose to see the bright side?
It’s not like the dark side or the trouble isn’t’ there. But most of the troubles are in the future. What if I choose to imagine and see that things will work out?
I am trying it. I wake up every morning and write down the good things I want to have in my day. Things like peace, trust, playfulness, appreciation and accomplishment.
Then I look for it, and it seems to show up pretty often.
To be sure, when I woke up every morning and looked for frustration and failure I found that more reliably. Upon reflection, however, I would much rather have good things.
So I’m looking for those and I’m seldom disappointed.