Study Hall

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Waiting For The Talisman: On Human Nature & Things We Can Do To Improve Now

“What can I do now, with the gear and people I have, to improve things for the team, the clients, and the bottom line?”

Magical People

As with equipment, there are times when we’ve waited, wished for, and wanted the “new person” to somehow magically solve whatever difficult issues we’re facing: “When Susan comes on board, we’ll have a systems expert who can untangle, literally, all those cables and get the racks sorted.”

Similarly if there’s a new boss being hired or a re-organization happening, it’s along the lines of, “I’m so tired of working for Jeff – things will be great once our department is under Sylvia.”

But can’t we look back at our own careers and realize that this is rarely the case? New blood is often a good thing but there’s no magic in it. People are people: we all bring skills and talents – and baggage – to the table.

Consider the new client as well. We find ourselves hoping that this is the one that will bring a better profit, for once, and be easier to deal with, unlike all our other clients. Maybe, but probably not, right?

If we’re honest and realistic with ourselves, we’ll know deep down that the new client might be different but probably overall mostly similar to the ones we already have. Not that we shouldn’t strive for better clients, just as we strive for better equipment and employers and managers.

If Not Now, When?

An oft-quoted re-wording of Hillel the Elder’s famous maxim goes something like this: “If not me, who? If not this, what? And if not now, when?” In other words, rather than waiting for the talisman that never fully delivers and maybe never even shows up, there are likely things we can do to improve our situation right now, or at least in the near future.

If the racks have aging, tangled cables, why not break up the workload amongst those who might have a little time to chip away at it during the slow season? If we’re hoping a new boss will solve all our problems, what about acting as we hope this magical new person will act by taking charge ourselves and asking colleagues to help in a collegial way?

And when it comes to gear, are we certain we’re getting the most out of the gear already in the inventory? I’ve often found that there are functions and features that I didn’t even know existed until calling a manufacturer’s technical support department to ask why a piece of equipment doesn’t do something – “Oh, it already does that? I just need to access the correct screen and set it like this?” Oops.

So there’s another thing we can do with idle time: dust off those manuals and/or go online to check out training videos. There are so many “tips and tricks” on YouTube these days that just watching them alone could be a full-time job. I think it’s safe to say with some confidence that there are few among us who are truly getting 100 percent of the capabilities out of any specific piece of equipment.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done because we’re dealing with human nature. But rather than waiting around for the next “magical thing” to arrive, I suggest first asking ourselves, “What can I do now, with the gear and people I have, to improve things for the team, the clients, and the bottom line?” I have faith that answers will come.

Read More
Musicians Are From Jupiter, Engineers Are From Saturn

In the meantime, as always the next trade show is on the horizon – just think of all that new gear!

Go here to read more articles by Karl Winkler on PSW.

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