It does not take a long life to appreciate how complex our interactions are with others. If you are alive, you get into situations which are difficult. Perhaps if you are very young, you might not appreciate all the nuances of your predicament, but you will likely still feel some discomfort.
Those of us who have a few years on us often lose a lot of sleep trying to fix problems that we did not create.
Messes do happen and most of us end up facing some challenges that we never volunteered to resolve. If you walk away the problem might get even worse.
Sometimes there are no other options. You just have to step up to the plate and do the best job possible even if you strike out. Once in a while you get lucky and perhaps even hit a home run, but often the best thing that can happen is that no one knows that it was you.
Life can put you in situations where you wonder "How in the world did I get in this mess?" I have had my share of those adventures where I got pulled into something that I would have rather avoided.
It was the early days of computers and I was working for Apple in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My largest computer reseller looked perfectly healthy from the outside but eventually we figured out he was close to going out of business. Apple Canada came up with a recovery plan that put me in charge of his business.
The top sales rep at the reseller resigned as soon as the plan was announced. Her reaction is typical of many people who find themselves in a difficult situation. The simplest thing to do is to abandon ship.
The hardest thing is to accept that there is a problem and that it needs fixing. Giving your help instead of your resignation or retreating into passive aggressiveness is hard. Helping not quitting when the going gets tough is the right thing to do.
There is a lot of truth to the old maxim that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.
Fortunately we managed to turn the Halifax reseller situation around and I only had to manage a reseller that was competing with my other resellers for a few short months. As far as I know no one outside of Apple ever knew what happened.
One of the lessons that I learned was that getting things done in the background with as little notice as possible can be key to resolving difficult situations. The last thing that I wanted any other reseller to know was that I ran a competing reseller's business for a few months. Even if I did a really good job of it, they might never have trusted me again.
It is always best way to solve problems by focusing on finding solutions. Assigning blame for a bad situation is a waste of time and energy, yet it is the first thing that happens in many organizations.
I have seen high level corporate folks more concerned about not being blamed for a problem than about helping to fix the problem.
Trying to help save my Halifax reseller's business was more of risk than the sales rep who immediately resigned was willing to take. Her solution was to get as far from the problem as she could.
Lots of times you have to go out there and do your job and hope that no one learns the ugly details that might lurk beneath the surface. Sometimes if you are lucky you will get a pat on the back, but a lot of times the best reward is that you did your job and almost no one knows what you did much less how you did it.
That is often all the reward that you need. I would like to say that these things only happen in the corporate world, but I would not be fooling anyone. You do not have to look far even in the relatively simple world of the Southern Outer Banks to find situations that are difficult to resolve.
Actually the problems here are sometimes compounded because we live in a small world with lots of personal relationships which can make resolving a problem even more difficult. As we all know, the smaller a community is, the more likely it is that everyone knows what is happening. That said, solving a problem here on the Crystal Coast along our beautiful sounds and beaches can be just as big a challenge as fixing one at Apple.