I was driving down the interstate and I heard a loud CRACK. The sound was deafening and caused me to jump. I looked across my windshield and found that I was now the proud owner of a small rock chip. It was actually quite surprising that such a loud sound came from such a small chip.
I didn’t think much of it, but a week later I noticed that it had grown slightly, with various hairline cracks sprouting in all sorts of wonderful directions. Like most good motorists I chose to ignore it, and before long, those cracks seemed to cover my entire windshield, which had to be replaced.
Problems in your company are exactly like that rock chip it starts small, then grows and spreads new problems in all directions.
How do the cracks grow? By applying heat and pressure. Right now is one of the most difficult and pressure filled environments companies have faced in a decade. They say that true character is revealed under pressure. Nowhere is this truer than in your current work situation. Your very livelihood is threatened. Your bonus, your raise, your life can be overturned due to situations seemingly out of control. It is enough to raise the stress level of anyone. This is a valuable gift if you learn to observe the impact of this stress on those around you. The only way to know who you can count on is to watch how people, and how your company performs under pressure.
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure—the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.” – Robert McKee
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
The issues in your organization are going to begin growing at an alarming rate. This is terrible for the company but great for you personally. You have a job not because you are a genius or you are amazing. No, they keep you employed because you solve a problem. The key to keeping that employment is to look for other ways you can add value. This is a vitally important step for protecting yourself. The more problems you can solve, the more valuable you are for the organization. The company creates a steady stream of problems for you to fix. If you can be the one not only to identify those new problems, but also to have a realistic suggestion on how to fix them, your career is going to move in the right direction.
Get a notebook.
I know this is an antiquated idea in a digital society, but putting pen to paper is better for your brain. Every day, write down a problem that you encounter, or a frustration that you see in your company. Do this exercise for two weeks straight. You should have, at a minimum, 10 things on your list. If your company is anything like the rest, you will probably have 20-plus.
At the end of those two weeks take that list and start to determine potential solutions for each of those problems. This is important: the solutions do not have to be realistic. This exercise is just to look at possibilities. Don’t try to solve them all in a day. Do this over the course of the next week. Then throw out all those you cannot influence. Your company has so many problems, I guarantee you there will be at least one item on that list you can attack. That’s the one.
Go after it with everything you have. Find the solution to the real problem. Don’t worry about the list of 20; narrow your scope to a single issue within your company. Problem solvers keep a job, and the ones who solve problems they were not asked to solve get promoted. Almost every single person tries to “stay in their lane.” They do what their job description says, and that is it. If I had a nickel for every time someone said “Well, that is some other group’s problem,” I would already be retired and living on an island. You can set yourself apart by taking on the problems you observe and fixing them.
This is your moment of opportunity. Don’t waste it.
Adapted from the book: “Surrounded by Insanity: How to Execute Bad Decisions”
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