Many years ago, a manager pulled me into his office to let me know my role would be expanding. From his perspective, I had been readied through a series of assignments. From mine, I worried that this was a huge stretch and I’d fall flat.
My manager did me a huge favor that day. He sensed my doubt and asked me a series of questions:
Mgr: Have I given you stretch assignments before?
Mgr: Have you been successful in those?
Mgr: Do you think I would give you a stretch assignment just to watch you fail?
That stopped me. I did not yet have enough years or successes under my belt to be confident in my ability. But he did. He had the perspective of working with many others, and could view my abilities in a broader context. More importantly, he did not want to fail anymore than I did.
This past weekend, I had my first experience with Pinewood Derby. For the uninitiated, the Pinewood Derby is a huge event in Cub/Boy Scouts, where all the boys make their own (hopefully) wooden model cars to race.
We were given our blocks of wood a few weeks ago and my six year old dove into the experience. He designed the car – a “race truck” that may not have been the best design to win, but is what he wanted – did most of the sanding and painting, and tried to limit his father’s role to power tools and detail work he needed help with.
Most of what we do in a work environment involves problem solving. At its core, the best problem solving goes back to the scientific method, an approach I learned and embraced in 8th grade science class. It resonates with me to this day.
What astounds me is that more people do not seem to follow it. Several key steps – knowing the problem, understanding the environment we are operating in, and checking at the end to make sure the problem has been solved, are often bypassed for going right to the solution.
Forgetting these steps is like using a ready, fire, aim approach with a weapon. Without understanding the environment, we can shoot at the target all day long and miss. If our aim is off, or non-existent, we are unlikely to hit the mark. The result is a waste of precious time and ammunition (resources) doing it again.
I was once part of a group of friends with A and B. Somewhere along the line, my relationship with B became strained. Eventually, it got to a place that was unhealthy. I let it continue as long as I could to maintain a friendship with A, but eventually the cost was too high.
I realize now there were many things I could have done, but only one I did do. I slowly began to back away from both relationships. My intent was positive – I wanted to make sure I did not impact A’s friendship with B. So I suffered the loss of A in silence.
It took me a while, but eventually I figured out I was being an idiot. A well-meaning idiot, but an idiot all the same. So, I decided to do something about it. We were all adults – why not let her be one and decide for herself, instead of me deciding for her?