Blackout! Just like that, I lost all power. As a computer programmer working remotely, my work relies on the Internet. I quickly assessed the situation. It was still daylight outside, and my devices were fully charged. My hotspot was available to connect to the Internet. I could manage for a few more hours without power. If the blackout doesn’t end within an hour, I will need to take further action. However, from what I can see, everything is under control.
blackout Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay
There are two types of problems: ones you can control by yourself and ones that are out of your hands. And some fall in between. You cannot completely avoid the problem, but you can control it to some extent by minimizing the damage.
calendar Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay
Has anyone ever canceled your plans, saying “I’m sorry I can’t make it today. I’ve been feeling under the weather. I thought I would get better, but…”? If the plan is just a lunch or dinner arrangement, the cancellation is not a big deal. However, if the person were a keynote speaker for a big event, that can be a significant issue. Being sick is not a problem here. We all understand that everybody gets sick once in a while. Cancelling at the last minute without advanced warning is the problem. Yes, “advanced warning” is the key. Of course, some problems like car accidents and food poisoning cannot be seen, but in this case, the potential problem is obvious.

They know they are coming down with something, but they don’t share the potential problem with anybody. They think they will overcome it soon. In reality, their conditions worsen and they cancel the plan a day before the event. Because they keep the problem to themselves until the last minute, when it spirals out of their control, everybody ends up running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

I used to make that kind of mistakes when I was young. Then, one day, one of my managers in Japan gave me a piece of advice.

Remember, we’re a team. Whenever you identify potential problems or even concerns, share them with me right away. Once you share them, they no longer remain your problem; they become our problem. The earlier you share them, the better prepared we can be. That’s how we work as a team.

Honestly, it was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I was amazed to see how easily we can defuse situations before they escalate into real problems.

About 10 years ago, I held a position as a Toastmasters club officer with the expectation of becoming President. It was during that time that I realized my visa could become an issue. I might need to leave the U.S. The chance was 50-50. If I did, there were various unknown factors, including finances and locations. The potential problem could be huge. Perhaps it would be easier for everybody if I resigned? I promptly consulted with Lisa Lockhart, who was the President at that time. The wise woman did not keep the problem to herself but shared it with past Presidents. We often say, “Four eyes can see more than two.” In our case, we had sixteen eyes. We made strategic plans and examined every possible flaw. We developed backup plans for backup plans. When the time came for me to leave the country, our potential problem was long gone.

I became a virtual Vice President of Education and, eventually, President. This all took place long before Zoom became our new normal. Yep, I consider us pioneers! My “exile” lasted longer than anticipated, but despite the challenges, our plan led us to a successful year.

“Sharing” makes the huge difference.

Speaking on Screen

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This