If A Mountain Pops Up, Go Around It

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

One of the pleasures of starting a new job is working through all the computer access issues. “Yeah, we must have missed that one.” After the fifth time, you start to wonder if they wouldn’t be better to just start over. I’m on a first-name basis with half the Help Desk staff, and my access is still hosed up. On a bright note, at least I’m being paid for it.

This isn’t really a “new” job … I’m working for the same company, but as a direct-hire instead of as a contractor. To complicate things further, I previously worked for this company until a little over a year ago, when they eliminated my position. So, now I have at least two, and possibly three, profiles in the system. That’s when it threw a fit. “Good God! One Dave is enough!”

Yesterday I was stressed. Today, it’s comical. And the funny thing is, this company thought they were saving money by eliminating my “unnecessary” position. They sent me home for 2-1/2 months, and then brought me back as a contractor. Now they’re hiring me again. By the time all is said and done, they’d have been money ahead to just pay me for a 10-week vacation.

That’s how it seems to go with “brilliant” ideas. Things look great on paper, but lose their luster when the rubber hits the pavement. Like that time I tossed a firecracker out the back door at Burger King and it landed in a puddle. I picked it up and thought, “We use the microwaves to dry wet money.” I seriously wish I was making this up.

On most jobs, creativity is a valued trait. You know, during the interview. But once you get started, they don’t want a lot of innovative thought. “Just do what we taught you to do, the way we taught you to do it. Don’t get creative!” In the Navy, that wasn’t just a mindset – it was in the regulations. Any deviations had to be approved by COMNAVAIRGOD himself.

I guess I should say I never violated those regulations, but when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and facing the potential grounding of two entire aircraft squadrons, you do what needs to be done. In other words, post a watch on the shop door to let you know if the Lieutenant is coming, then drill a few holes, solder some wires, and make the problem go away.

The trick to something like that is you’d better know exactly what you’re doing, because when you’re talking about launching fully armed fighter planes off the pointy end of the ship, the stakes are pretty high. There is no “close enough.” Especially when you’re 2000 miles from dry land and there’s no place to hide when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Other times, there’s a little more room for error. That doesn’t mean you can just throw caution to the wind, but when you’re not dealing with unexploded ordinance, you have a little more freedom to try something new. In my job, I’ve often told junior employees, “It’s okay – we’re not building bombs.”

Yes, that last sentence just put me on a federal watch list. Oh well, they’re gonna be bored.

But the point is that you weigh the risks of failure with the potential gain. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody calls you out for using too many Oxford commas? Been there. Yet, here I am, still gainfully employed. Go figure.

On the job, the risks may be a little higher than when you’re planting flowers at home. “Who puts petunias with hydrangeas???” But the worst that happens there is you suddenly become the topic of discussion at the next neighborhood meeting. So what?

When we’re working on something for ourselves, we tend to follow the same philosophy from the military which says there are two ways to do anything – the Navy way and the wrong way. If anything stands in the way of doing what we thought we needed to do, we just stand there and keep running into the wall like a Roomba with no reverse button.

But if we take a single ounce of that creative energy that allowed us to come up with a dream in the first place, it’s not hard to figure out a way around obstacles. And every time we do, we become that much more convinced nothing will ever completely stand in our way. Even wet firecrackers.

Half of success is believing you can succeed. The other half is facing obstacles as speed bumps instead of roadblocks. If anything you’ve done has brought you to this point, there’s something else you can do to move beyond. Find what that is, and you open a whole new world of opportunity, putting your dreams that much more within reach.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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