stop doing the impossible

By: Todd Elliott
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I don’t know about you, but the closer rehearsal gets, I tend to get busier. Cleaning up messes, correcting typos, doing that thing I forgot to do on Thursday.

Typically these are things on my list, things that I want to get done. I’m generally not doing things that are on other people’s lists, because I don’t know what is on their list. So when the band leader shows up with an extra guitar, and an extra vocalist and a song change, it can be easy to blow a gasket.

How am I going to be ready for rehearsal if I don’t get my stuff done? “Don’t you know that I have enough to do without you adding crap to my already big list?” Because I find myself in this place, it is really easy to freak out and just say “No! I can’t do these things.”

The funny thing is that I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said no immediately, then after thinking about things for a while, finding a way to make it happen. I would then do it, even after I said it couldn’t be done. I can remember one such time when I said we couldn’t add an extra tin whistle or something and then I ended up providing a mic for it. My boss called me on the carpet for it. You can’t say its impossible, then turn around and make it happen.

Trust – Down and to the Left

If you say one thing and then do another often enough, no one is going to believe you. What will result is that they will stop believing you, which means you won’t be believed, which leads to no one believing what you say.

Nothing drives trust out the door faster than saying something can’t be done, then proving the exact opposite. Trust is the key commodity for true collaboration to happen, and if you are doing things begrudgingly that you’ve already said no to, you will lose trust. Once it is lost, it is almost impossible to get back.

I’ve seen this happen so many times. Not just with me, but with many tech people I’ve worked with. As tech people, I’m pretty sure that we aren’t even aware of what’s going on.

From my perspective, I’m usually pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to do the impossible, and I usually want others to be amazed by what I’ve pulled off. Instead, the exact opposite is happening. Slowly over time, your ability to do the impossible after you’ve already said it can’t be done is eroding trust little by little.

Give yourself time to think

Instead of responding immediately with the negative, ask for some time to think about it. In the pressure of the live event, this can be pretty difficult, but by not answering right away and asking for a minute, you’ve communicated what you are really wanting, time to come up with options.

Sometimes there isn’t time, but don’t let that stop you from asking. Once you’ve gotten these words out, the person asking knows that you don’t know right this second but that you might be able to come up with a solution if you’re given some space.

So let’s say there isn’t time to wait and you’ve said you don’t know. Then the answer needs to be no; and it isn’t something you’ve said, but the situation is to blame not you, the negative tech person. This doesn’t erode trust at all, but instead builds trust.

In this example, what if you then came up with a solution after some time has passed? Do you think the other person will be angry that you came up with a solution after the fact? No way! They are amazed by your brilliance! How did you come up with a solution to the impossible?

By asking for time, you are communicating. Communication is key to trust. Trust is the fuel that drives collaboration.


 

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