“We’ll either find a way, or make one.” – Hannibal.
Picture the scene. It was a weekend, we were at work doing some routine maintenance work on the IT systems; we did these periodically to ensure everything was kept up to date so as to protect the systems and data, and we did them at weekends to minimise disruption to the folks using the computer systems during the week. Now, as part of our preparation for these weekends, I always had a full plan of what we were going to do plus fall-back plans in case things didn’t go according to plan. We also tested (as far as possible) everything in advance on development systems to minimise surprises. Unfortunately, things very rarely (if ever) go completely to plan (especially when you are dealing with hundreds of systems and have a tight time frame!) and this particular weekend was no exception. Something unexpected went wrong. In a big way. Now, it doesn’t matter what it was, suffice it to say that it was something none of us could have ever predicted – that it went wrong at all came as a complete surprise to the system suppliers, it turned out. However, wrong it went, and it left us with a major problem, for without it nobody would be able to do any work when they turned up to the office on Monday.
No problem we thought, we’ll find a way to fix it or work round it. So we searched and searched and drew a complete blank.
OK, time to call the supplier’s technical support team. No joy there either, they were nowhere to be found and would not be back until Monday some time after our own customers were expecting to be working.
Last resort, let’s search the internet and see if anyone else has hit this problem and we’ll find out what they did. Alas even this search was fruitless, nobody seemed to have hit the issue before.
Time was running out. Options were running out. We had searched everywhere to find a way to get round this problem but none were to be found – neither the documentation nor the supplier nor the internet offered any glimpses, there seemed to be no way to be found to get this thing working again. And not having a working system by the morning was not an option, the cost to the business in terms of loss of earnings would have been huge.
There was nothing else for it, we had to make a way to get things working. Which, cutting a long story short, is precisely what we did.
We brainstormed, applied copious quantities of lateral thinking, examined every option we could conceive no matter how outrageous it was and sure enough we were eventually able to strip down some systems, borrow parts from others, and do all manner of other tricky complicated stuff, but we got something working sufficiently to enable our customers to do their own work on Monday morning whilst we sought a more permanent resolution.
Of course, in a way we were lucky in that not having it working was completely out of the question so there was no possibility for us to give up, which is what drove us to make our own solution.
But how often in life do any of us hit a metaphorical brick wall, look for a way round, fail to find it and then simply give up? What if, instead of just giving up because we could not find a way, we set out instead to make our own way? How much more do you think you could accomplish in life if you didn’t give up bit if you did make your own way when there was not one to be found? Imagine for a moment just how much more you would have already achieved and how much more you will achieve by doing just that?
That’s all well and good, you might think, but a few pretty words don’t make problems simply disappear do they? And you would be right, it is not always easy to make your way when you can’t find one, but many things in life worth attaining are so worthy precisely because they are difficult. But not impossible!
So how can we achieve this?
Well the first step would be to stop believing that it is impossible – just because nobody else has found or made a way, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. As Hannibal proved.
Stop looking at all the reasons why it can’t be done, and instead ponder on consideration of the reasons why it can be done – they are much harder to find, this is true, but they are out there if you cut through the negative reasons.
Consider all the options and alternatives, no matter how way-out, obscure or improbable they may at first appear – your way is almost certainly lurking within the near-impossibility ideas to start with.
Don’t, whatever you do, give up at the first sign of failure. Nor the second. Nor third…
Avoid the company of people who only focus on the can’t, and hang out with the cans. Their outlook will start to rub off on you.
Be prepared for a solution which may require a lot of backtracking or undoing of what’s already been done.
Know that there is a way out there somewhere, and that you are going to make it.
And if, having examined that list, you are saying to yourself that it’s not going to work, then I wonder where else you might be focusing on the negatives instead of making your way…