A broken dish representing today's failure, but repaired in the kintsugi style

Tuesday Zoom with C. J. Date, Part 1

“Aw, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Ha!

Ok, how ’bout you make a decision late last night that renders your Zoom guest unable to log in, and so the whole point of your big gathering is nullified?

Yeah, that’s pretty bad. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how my story played out today. I had advertised access to a conversation with C. J. Date (Chris). The advertising attracted a larger-than-normal audience for my scheduled weekly call. Lots of people showed up at the appointed time. But not Chris; he couldn’t get in. I rebooted the meeting, unsetting the parameter I had set last night. Still no Chris. He struggled for 15 minutes or so, but nope. Couldn’t get in. Then he stopped answering my emails. Bottom line, I failed to produce Chris, disappointing millions. And now I don’t even know whether he’ll ever speak to me again.

Imaginations run wild under pressure. But let’s take an inventory of what we really have here.

First, nobody got hurt. It was a Zoom meeting, not a 747.

Apparently, nobody got bored either. Hardly anybody bailed out of the call, even after it was evident that there wouldn’t be time for a meaningful conversation with Chris, even if he were to connect. My audience was awesome. They stuck with me, and they helped me out.

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to convince Chris to try again. I wanted to clear that up right away, so I emailed him to please call me because I wanted to apologize in detail. He did, which greatly relieved me; however, once we were on the phone, he wouldn’t allow me to speak for several moments while he apologized first in lavish detail. This of course ruined any chance of my apologizing preemptively upon him.

Anyway, good news: he’s keen on trying again. Probably next Tuesday, but I’ll let you know later this week in my next newsletter.

Oddly, I feel better right now than if the show had gone off as planned. It’s nuts, I know, but what happened today will give us something to talk about for a long time. That’s fun, right?

Certainly beneficial from a pragmatic point of view, I relearned an important lesson that I know I learned a long time ago:

“Verily, I say unto thee, once hast thou tested, alter thou further not without testing once more.”

So, not only do I have a refresher on an important rule for which I should have shown more respect, now I have a fun new story to tell about it. When I woke up this morning, I was actually a little worried about what new story I might blog about this week. Ta-da. Problem solved.

And—and this is weird—I’m oddly excited by the sheer opportunity of it all. People will probably talk about today’s screw-up more than if we’d pulled it off perfectly. Oh, we will pull it off perfectly. Probably next week. But it’s actually a more interesting story doing it this way. The event becomes kintsugi. It is now incumbent upon me to glue everything back together and make “Tuesday Zoom with C. J. Date, Part 2” actually contain some C. J. Date.

The opportunity perspective reminds me of when we discover a bug in one of our products. I hate having bugs, but when we find one, I appreciate the opportunity to showcase how responsive we are in our support role. In this way (and not a Munchausen-by-proxy way), it’s actually helpful to have a few little bugs instead of a perfect product.

And finally, as Sean pointed out, today’s challenge was a good opportunity to test whether I practice what I preach about remaining calm when things aren’t going well. If you’re interested in this type of thing, you might like a video I recorded about tools for remaining calm, which itself is so calm that you can watch it at 1.5× speed without missing anything.

Epilog

Oh. And get this. Do you remember the part where Chris had stopped responding to my emails about 15 minutes into our session, and I felt like maybe he was so angry that he might never talk to me again?

Turns out, that wasn’t what happened at all.

Chris stopped responding on our email thread because his internet service had crashed.

That’s right, friends and neighbors, even if everything had gone as planned, we’d have lost Chris right around the meeting’s climax at T+15 minutes into the call. We were pretty much doomed today, no matter what.

Sometimes the only choice you have is the level of dignity you impose upon the situation.


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