Know the Territory

I’ve spent a lot of time in my career, talking people through fixing technology that I can’t see.

I’ve had to work with people all over America and in other countries too. China, Japan, South Africa, Dubai.

I had to get all the stuff working together at the same exactly time. I was the one that had to answer the questions of WHY it didn’t do what we needed it to do so that it would all sync and connect.

How was *I* supposed to know what was wrong in all those corners of the world?

I had to know the territory.

Which is to say, I had an inventory of all the equipment in each of those places. And I knew what each of them were supposed to look like, which cables were plugged into what and what color lights were supposed to blink in what sequence.

I had to know that for each and every single system in all the different countries. And I did. And we could make the stuff work.

Because I knew exactly what each person was experiencing in their room across the world when I talked to them on the phone and asked about the colors of the blinking lights.

My husband had a reason to drive across the country last week–from long island back to California. It was a straight shot, meant to cover distance as fast as possible.

He made one stop. As a person interested in American history, he wanted to see the battleground for Shiloh.

“The battle was chaos. Now that I’ve seen the battlefield, I can understand why.”

It wasn’t meant to happen there. The two armies met on accident.

No one would have chosen that spot for a battle. But then it happened anyway.

Both generals did know the territory and wanted nothing to do with it.

When Chris told me about walking the battleground, and how there was nothing distinct–how there were no landmarks and it was very disorienting

When he said that seeing what it was like there, he could understand the histories so much better

I remembered my talks with people from other cities and their technology. How they had to completely trust me about the cables and the lights

And how I had to learn to trust them. How when then described the lights’ colors and what was happening in their room, as crazy as it sounded to me

I had to believe them.

I learned that they were the ones who could see and hear, and I had to learn to trust them as if they were my eyes.

If we worked together, we could always find the answer to get synched.

But if I didn’t believe them, we would waste a lot of time. I had to know their territory through their eyes and their voices.

Which is not the same as walking the ground myself. And seeing how the land lies.




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