GPS, The Small Stuff, and Getting Back on Track
A short time ago, we were returning from a trip, in my car, at O’dark 30 AM, when the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. There were warning lights that I had never seen before and there were a lot of them…Check engine was among them…YIKES! So, there we were on the highway, going along with traffic, it was raining, the road was rough, and we had no map other than the little tiny GPS screen on my phone.
Calling for help, meant we needed to know our location. Google tried to help, but there was no street address, and drilling down a location took a bit of expanding the map and trying to find helpful details. In the “olden days”, I would have a route planned on my paper map that would have revealed most of the information I needed at a glance. The big picture here was important. Calling the 24-hour roadside assist that came with the car led to a discussion with an operator in Tennessee. Her reply was; “looks like you have got a big problem there” …Ok, FINE! I thought the check engine light established that fact, but I digress.
We did eventually find our location (hey it was a stressful event; we were a little freaked out!) and a plan for tow was arranged. Time passed and no one called with details about when help might come. We decided we were ready to move to plan B, call the local dealer and see if they could help.
Next up was finding a dealer to help us with the car. OK, 7 miles away…Should we chance it and just drive there? Should we wait? What should we do?
In the meanwhile, the rain stopped, and enough time passed that the dealership was now open. Before we did anything else we decided to give the dealership a call.
When we reached the dealership, we were connected with a very friendly, and helpful Service Advisor who asked: “Have you gotten gas in the past couple of days?” The answer was yes, but why was that important? We had driven hundreds of miles since with no problem. She (yes...she, a female customer service advisor!) explained that if the gas cap was loose that this would cause the computer to think there was a fuel leak and would cause all the warnings we were seeing. She then told us, “Turn the car off, tighten the cap, and restart the engine and tell me what you see”. We did as she told us and when the car started we saw nothing, no warning lights…not a single one!. We thanked her profusely and gathered our wits and continued on our way.
What did we learn from this experience?
- The smallest things can seem enormous at 65 miles per hour.
- Not knowing your exact address can be problematic.
- Freaking out really does not help.
- Heed the warning lights, but don’t panic.
- Nice people who want to help are out there.
- Sometimes the fix is just mere seconds away... don’t look for the nightmare just because you can…
So, why am I sharing this story? I was thinking about it, and realized things like this happen in business too.
First thing, slow down…unless life and limb are at peril…just slow down. Get yourself to a safe place and then, take time to get clear on the big picture. Check the “GPS”, get a map, look at your plan. You may not have enough information, or the right information, yet. Don’t act until you have time to absorb what has happened and decide what the next logical step might be. Get advice from a professional who knows what to do for the type of problem you are experiencing. Make a new plan based on what you learned.
Warnings do not necessarily mean the world is burning down. Your computer may be frozen, but a restart, or a cold reboot might be all that is needed.
Here are a couple examples:
You forgot to save a word docx and your computer froze, you shut it down and now you can’t find the file. Well, you can Open Word and click the "Open" > "File" tab. Scroll to the bottom of your Recent Documents and then click "Recover Unsaved Documents". The saved drafts will open in a new window. Click "Save As" to restore the disappeared unsaved Word document.
You lost the ability to turn Bluetooth on or off. You can’t find it in the device manager in the settings of the computer. When it happened to me I thought, Ugh, can't call my computer guy, he is on an airplane. I was on my own. I thought of my Dad and his sage advice: "if it is already not working, maybe you can fix it…just try."
So, just like on my road trip, I took a few deep breaths. Then, I took time to look for signs about where I might be, I looked for a roadmap (Window’s Help) and found that I may not be as lost as I first thought. It was good advice in this situation. I got the instructions for how to perform a cold reboot and it worked. It took less than 5 minutes, and I was back in business. First, I thought how proud my consultant would be of me for handling this myself. Then, I thought, what is really important here is that I am proud of MYSELF.
Remember, look at the map, see the big picture, try to solve the problem, get the professionals to give you a hand if you can’t solve it yourself, and most of all be proud of your ability to get through whatever comes your way.
Safe travels everyone! Oh, and by the way…I got new paper maps, because I love the big picture, and I love paper maps!