Have you ever had a week of non-stop challenges, and then looked back at how much you learned … and grew as a result?
Last week my biggest challenge occurred at week’s end.
After 4 days of non-stop, 14-hour work days, it was Friday morning, and I was soon to depart my office for a meeting. I had 10 minutes before needing to leave so decided to take care of a “little” problem that cropped up while working on a job for another client earlier in the week. For the purposes of this story, I shall call this client Mary.
The “little” problem was that the username and password that Mary’s assistant emailed to me was not working. Instead of asking to Mary, I phoned Mary’s assistant who set up all the accounts and had all the usernames and passwords. Picking up the phone to speak with Mary’s assistant seemed like a no-brainer. She was the source!
Instead of being accommodating, Mary’s assistant told me:
- I was wrong
- She DID give me the correct information
- She was too busy to help me
- If there was a problem I needed to phone the company and take care of it myself
- She was not allowed to work on “other” projects for Mary during normal business hours.
Mind you, I didn’t receive this full-on assault during one phone call. Unfortunately I had to send multiple email requests and phone back three times to receive all five body blows because:
- The information was not correct, and
- although I acquiesced and phoned the company in hopes of resolving the issue myself, the tech refused to help me because I wasn’t the account holder.
The Saga Continues
Mary’s assistant eventually straightened out the first problem, but once that was resolved a second problem reared its ugly head — one that only Mary’s assistant could resolve. Reluctantly, I contacted her once more, and was met with the same resistance.
It was now day two with no resolution to problem #2, I’d been trying to push water uphill for the past 24 hours, and was working on a Saturday. Exasperated, I took out my poison pen and began to compose an ugly letter to Mary about her miserable employee. After 45 minutes and much editing, I was about the press the “send” button when the phone rang.
My caller ID read “Blocked Call.” After the third ring something told me to answer it. Guess who? It was Mary’s assistant calling to tell me she had just resolved problem #2.
So what did I learn?
While exercising my poisoned pen, an equally unpleasant encounter emerged from my memory bank. It was of someone who didn’t want me on his team. In fact, I wasn’t on “his” team. I wasn’t staff. His boss hired me as an outside consultant to get “the job” done.
- It suddenly occurred to me that in these situations, any direction or request for information cannot come from me. It must come from the staff person’s superior…regardless of how unproductive or inefficient it may seem.
- Furthermore, someone else’s assistant, or team member does not work for me, therefore, they do not have to answer any of my requests directly…no matter how urgent, or necessary.
What I’ve finally learned is that had I gone to Mary, and asked her for the information, two things would have happened:
- I would not have wasted my time and emotional energy
- Another project that needed attention would have been crossed off my list.
Live and learn, as the saying goes. Fortunately I’m always happy to learn something new…and extremely grateful for the divine intervention that prevented me from pushing that “send” button.