Friday, June 12, 2009

Do You Read Directions?

Oops-you just did it again. You just assembled your new office furniture and only had a few parts left over. You tell yourself “that shouldn’t matter, they always ship extra parts.” But wait! –why won’t your new spiffy chair roll across the floor? You are probably experiencing an ailment that is very common, especially to men, of not reading the instructions. And this is probably not the first time this has happened.

Putting together your new office furniture, your kid’s bike, or your new lawnmower is not the only place that reading (and following) the instructions is important. Have you ever submitted an application for something important only to have it returned for more information or a missing signature? This type of delay could be very expensive, especially if there was a time limit on your application. The problem was easily avoided if you had read (and follow) the instructions.

I have found that some instructions are very hard to comprehend because they were created in another language and in another culture and then translated for our use. It is pretty easy to not follow these directions because they don’t make sense, or sometimes even leave out important steps of the process. Others, however, are amazing in their completeness and ease of understanding. If you just follow one step at a time, in order, not jumping ahead of yourself, the item goes together very easily, and you won’t have any parts left over. If you try to out smart the directions you are likely to create chaos and have more trouble correcting your mistakes than you would have had if you’d followed the instructions in the first place.

This advice about following the directions applies not only to mechanical things, like tools and toys, but also to software, computer programs, cameras, and other communication devices. Technology instructions often fit into that category of translated instructions that make no sense. I know I don’t have a technology gene so I have learned to rely on one of my partners for help. Just hand them the device, admit you are dumb, and wait—they will always find the answer for you.

Asking for help is the surest way of avoiding chaos and sensory overload. You will also make lots of points with your friends, because they want to be helpful and they will like it that they are smarter than you. You now have an opportunity to make your friends happy, not strain your brain, and move up to the next level of technology so you can race ahead, until the next time you get a new toy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What now...

The question is---how do you get back “up on the horse” after a week or more of major crises in your life? I’ve just had one of those weeks that none of us needs or deserves. In one week I had to face my mother’s death, major court mediation, and a car accident that came close to totaling my car (fortunately, nobody was hurt). These are all life changing experiences, but handled one at a time they can be easily endured. When they all happen in one week, they can each be monumental and difficult to handle. Your normal life definitely gets put on hold.

I have always believed that adversity is an opportunity to learn something of importance, whether it be how to address a problem or how not to do something. The most challenged, unsuccessful person in the world can be a great teacher of how not to confront a problem. This awareness can easily be spun into a positive lesson.
What am I supposed to be learning from last week, besides patience? As I look around on Monday morning trying to assess what this week might hold I realize that I have basically been in hiding. My mail has piled up, my house is a mess, the laundry is taking over and I don’t know where to start to dig out.

A friend has just suggested the standard advice, get up, dress up and show up. This just means putting on a happy face and moving forward. Another bit of advice that comes to mind is “fake it ‘til you make it.” This may be all I can do for now. It will probably take some time for me to really get back on track. I do know that forward momentum breeds forward momentum. Just because I’m overwhelmed now doesn’t mean that I will always be that way. Time will lead me out of this chaos and back on the path to serenity.