A life lesson from an internet technician

Hammer-and-NailLife lessons are all around us.  In fact, they often come at the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways. 

Little did I know that one of my life lessons would come in the form of a Cox Communications technician.

Most of you are familiar with the unwelcome circumstance of losing access to the internet for an extended period of time.  Not only does it interfere with our ability to use a personal computer, it also limits the use of other devices we rely on (i.e. Kindle or cell phone).  This circumstance was a reality for our family last week.    

After exhausting all of the obvious troubleshooting options on my own (i.e. resetting the modem), I hesitantly dialed the number for Cox customer service.  Based on past experience, I was prepared for a brief trial and error process, which typically included all of the strategies I’d tried unsuccessfully, followed by the dreaded words, “It looks like we’ll need to send a technician out to your house.” 

Now on day three of no internet service, I patiently waited for the technician to arrive within the designated 3-hour window.  By the way, wouldn’t it be nice if we could give people a 3-hour window for our arrival?  I digress. 

Thankfully, after an hour or so of checking various cables and connections, the technician was able to resolve the issue.  While I was certainly grateful for his technical support, there was something he said to me that I’m equally grateful for.

When I explained to him the customer service protocol I received over the phone, he quickly chuckled and said, “Unfortunately, they just operate from a script.  We try to troubleshoot in order to find a solution.”  It immediately occurred to me that this is precisely the approach we should take with regard to our life challenges.

Just as a customer service rep may operate from a script, so too do we operate in life.  Have you ever tried to solve a problem in the exact same manner you tried before, only to fail miserably?  The crazy part is that we often continue to use the same approach.  Even though we know that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, we still do it.  Why is this?

Abraham Maslow once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”  The fact is that the majority of the choices we make each day are based on a script that resides in our subconscious mind.  Therefore, whenever a challenge occurs, our default response is to simply rely on the script to solve a problem.  In many cases, the script is faulty or inaccurate.  In other words, we’re using the wrong tool.

Let me give you an example.

Jerry is a successful businessman.  Although he’s proud of what he’s accomplished, he admittedly struggles at times with listening to the needs of his employees.  Whenever one of his workers expresses a concern about a workplace issue, his script (or habit) is to immediately dismiss the concern and attribute it to whining and complaining. 

Realizing that his approach is clearly not working, he decides to troubleshoot the problem.  Instead of using the same tool (ignoring the problem), he chooses to practice empathy with his employees.  Each time they walk into his office, he intentionally sets aside his script and puts himself in the shoes of the person speaking.  While he may not always agree with what they are saying, he notices a much more comfortable energy in the room.  Before, the employees would often leave feeling misunderstood.  Now, as a result of Jerry’s troubleshooting and a commitment to using a new tool, they leave feeling understood. 

It was a simple shift with tremendous results. 

I invite you to look at areas where you find yourself frustrated at the lack of results.  Rather than looking for someone to blame or seeking to formulate a masterful excuse as a means of justifying why things are the way they are, try becoming a technician.  Let go of the script and take control of the steering wheel of your life. 

I believe in you!

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