To Beat Defeat is Really Neat

The last couple of days I’ve been doing some redesign work on our department intranet site. Things were moving along pretty well until I encountered a problem. I knew what I wanted to do and felt confident I knew how to make it happen but, for whatever reason, it just wasn’t working.

I was puzzled and slightly frustrated since everything appeared to be done correctly. I had reviewed and analyzed all the little details of my work to see if I missed something. I couldn’t find anything. So I started experimenting with different settings that might have contributed to my problem. That didn’t work either. At this point, slight frustration turned into genuine frustration.

I picked the brain of my colleague in the office next door as he’s worked on a similar project. He couldn’t find anything out of place either and suggested I call our expert up in the I.T. department. But by this point, I was committed to figuring this one out. I refused to admit defeat!

After attempting every possible minor adjustment without success, I discarded ALL my work and decided to start over again from scratch. As far as I know, I did everything the same the second time around only this time, it worked! I threw my hands up in victory and danced around my office while laughing uncontrollably. (OK, so I may have exaggerated that a bit but I was obviously pretty pleased with myself.) Even though I can’t tell you exactly why it worked the second time but not the first, I did learn some new techniques and approaches throughout the problem-solving process.

The takeaway here is that there is a huge learning opportunity and an enormous level of satisfaction to be gained from solving a problem. And in order to solve a problem, you need to allow for the extra time involved. In this instance, I spent an extra two or three hours that I hadn’t originally planned for but the emotional return far outweighed the time investment. Had I escalated the issue to our I.T. department, the problem may have been solved a little quicker, though no guarantees, but I wouldn’t have the same emotional attachment to the outcome that I am currently experiencing. I’m still smiling!

What emotions do you experience when you solve a difficult problem? Do you learn best by doing? If not, what type of learner are you? And finally, leaders, are you allowing room for your people to problem solve?

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Are You Embracing Technology?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled into an opportunity to reconnect with a former colleague, Laura Goodrich. For a number of years, Laura partnered with Blanchard as an Executive Coach. I hadn’t spoken with her in a couple years but we are connected through LinkedIn. I noticed that she had a book release coming up and decided to send her an e-mail to show my support.

To my surprise, an hour later my phone rang and it was Laura. By chance, she happened to be in town for a conference. This was kind of a big deal since we’re based on opposite sides of the country. The next morning, we were catching up in person over breakfast!

This chance encounter resulted only because of the incredible technologies we currently have at our disposal. I saw an update on LinkedIn, I sent an e-mail, which she received on her cell phone, and then she called me during a break while attending a conference. Think about that for a moment. How possible is it that this would have occurred say 10-15 short years ago? Not likely. How radically different will this scenario play out 10-15 short years from now? To borrow a quote from a friend, “It boggles the mind.”

Now, think about how you use technology in your professional and personal life. Would a scenario such as the one I’ve described be possible for you today through your use of technology? More to the point, do you embrace technology or do you let it intimidate you?

In her new book, Seeing Red Cars: Driving Yourself, Your Team, and Your Organization to a Positive Future, Laura recommends, “Become fluid with technology so you can continue to learn, connect, and remain relevant – and, in many cases, remain employed. Confidence and competence in technology is becoming much more of a  requirement than an option.”

From the ever-expanding and always-enhancing software applications in the workplace, to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs (such as this one), cell phone apps, and the like, there are countless ways to utilize technology to stay connected and to get ahead, both personally and professionally. How are you embracing technology?

If you have a technology-related success story or strategy, we’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comment area below.