Suffice it to say that over the last 4 weeks I've had an adventure in trying to get my media package changed from Time Warner to Verizon. Initially it was all Verizon's fault, although I think it all could have been handled much differently. Then Wednesday night it was Time Warner's fault; I won't go into specifics but I'll say that overall it's been a miserable experience.

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Thursday morning I awake to this odd, mechanical sounding shuffling noise. I pop on my glasses and aim my eyes in the direction of the noise and it turns out to be the Verizon TV box. It was going through a recycling action, something I was used to seeing with Time Warner's box every once in a while. Only this time it couldn't complete the action; it just kept cycling over and over, making this incessant noise.

I got up and went to check out the other two TV's. I knew what I was going to see, and I was right; none of them were working.

Part of the problem that prompted Verizon techs to my house on Wednesday was moving the TV modem from one room to another because of phone issues we were all having. They finally fixed the phone but no one thought about looking to see if the TV was still working; oops!

Initially I was irked and frustrated; I'd only been awake about 5 minutes and it looked like I was going to have to call Verizon again and have someone come to the house again... it would have been the 7th trip here. Oy!

Instead, I sat down and thought for a moment. It hit me that I had 3 Verizon boxes but only one was going haywire. That was the box that the modem had initially been tethered to, and it was possible that it was going nuts looking for the modem.

Whenever the Time Warner modem went down (which happened often), what I had to do was unplug it, let it sit for about 30 to 60 seconds, then plug it back in and let it reset itself. I decided to do this with the wonky box. Lo and behold, once I plugged it back in it started to recycle itself but this time I saw a message on the TV asking me to wait a moment. It said a few more things over the course of the next minute, then finally popped a program on the screen.

At the same time I heard voices coming from the other rooms where I'd turned the TV on. All was right with the world again; TV signals are strong, the boxes work, and I didn't have to call anyone. Winning all around!

teresa 7-14-2005 7-18-00 PM
Creative Commons License fo.ol via Compfight

Sometimes when we're thrown off for a little while our first reaction is to find someone to help us fix things, especially when we think someone else messed them up to begin with. That's not usually my norm, even though it was what I was thinking because of how many times I'd had to have someone come to the house to address things. Once my head cleared a bit, I was able to go into my normal mode of thinking things through, remembering old patterns, and giving it a shot. The worst that could have happened was that it wouldn't work; I had a feeling it would.

When I was an every day director years ago I'd have employees come into my office or ask me to come to their desks. They'd have a problem they didn't know how to handle; or so it seemed.

Instead of just fixing it for them or giving them the right answer, I'd ask them what they thought the problem was first. If they could identify that, then I'd ask them what they thought they could do that might fix it. Most of the time they got it right, and I'd give them affirmation and leave.

I don't know when we got to a culture where people are scared to take chances to address issues on their own. I know there are some managers and directors who put limits onto what their employees are allowed to do. I know there are times when that's necessary, but based on my own experience it shouldn't be the norm. People are often much smarter than even they give themselves credit for.

Are you a leader who limits employee growth in this way? When it comes to problems you encounter, do you immediately reach out to someone else, or do you take some time to think it through to see if you actually know the answer?