Saturday, February 12, 2011

Random Life Lesson - An Atomic Bomb is a Two-Stage Device

Have you ever read Tom Clancy?  You should, the guy is smart and can can tell a story.  Plus he seems to be clairvoyant due to the logical way he completes thinks through a scenario.  Despite his neo-fascist right wing politics I cannot stop reading and re-reading his books.  He is just that good.

In The Sum of All Fears, he take a chapter to explain how a Nuclear Bomb goes off, and most of the book talks about the making of one.  The chapter is less than half a page, and the bomb goes off wrong, resulting in a fizzle.  An Atomic Bomb is a two-stage device.  You need a perfectly executed implosion to trigger the nuclear chain reaction that gives you the mushroom cloud.

Life is like this.  It's taken me 35+ years to figure this out and I am writing this to make sure I drill it into my own head.  In life, mistakes happen.  But in order for things to get completely and utterly screwed up, there needs to be that secondary chain reaction.  If you can intervene and cut the situation off at a small mistake (no matter how big a mistake it may be or may seem to be) you can avoid the mushroom cloud.

This absolutely a variation of, or a different way to look st the Make a mountain out of mole hill colloquialism.

This realization came to me at work.  My company takes customer service very very seriously.  They have to, it's the only way around people's obsession with price.  As a result of this commitment, we treat all problems, big or small, equally.  We do everything we can to fix the issue, correct the mistake, or whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.  We get the issue presented to us by the customer and it belongs to that person.  It almost does not matter who made the original error, it matters that the issue is put to bed as efficiently as possible.  Sometimes the buck needs to be passed, but only after all other options have been exhausted.  

I say this because I have seen repeatedly, nearly 100% of the time, that the serious problems come in when the person who gets the original issue handed to them by the customer, screws up the solution.  I have avoided the cynicism trap, despite my years in retail, and I understand that people are understanding.  Listen to them, play fair with them, and they will be truly thankful of your efforts to fix a problem.  Especially when that person already has a relationship with your business.

I have witnessed this phenomenon in life.  I had an experience recently that helped me see that this is not a work-truth, but a universal-truth.  That I need to identify problems quickly and deal with them quickly.  I tend to get hung up on the problem itself and it's source, when the source is irrelevant.  The solution is the only thing that anyone else will ever notice.  It is truly ok to be a complete fuck-up as long as you handle it right, and handle it right away.

I apologize to all of you for any lack of bad ideas in this post.  For any lack of humor, or irreverence.  For having no links, no video, no puns, and no pictures.  But as I said, I need to drill this lesson into my brain if I ever want to get my life in order.  

Thank You for reading,
Your favorite soon-to-be-motivational-speaker-millionaire,

PS- Yes, I absolutely had to ruin it with a joke in the signature.  You know I can't keep a straight face for that long!
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