Reader reassurance: this article is NOT about IT or any other technical issue. There are several other people on the planet better placed to write about that than I. I know my limits.
On Friday I fired up my laptop and it froze at “Starting Windows”. I waited in silent prayer for a few minutes, then remembered I don’t have an IT department to go and bleat to when my stuff goes wrong. With a heavy week of training delivery coming up and materials to write, I had better get on with sorting this out myself.
I spent about an hour trying to research the solution via my iPhone, and found myself learning a whole new language, including “kernels” and “grubs”, and joined some learning forum about something called Linux. Ahem. Think I may be getting out of my depth here.
I decided I needed to be a bit more courageous. The laptop, from its state of hypnosis, managed to offer me one option I had not yet dared to consider:
“Restore factory settings. Note: all files and installed software will be removed.”
Gulp. You are inviting me to perform open heart surgery on myself. All of my business sits on this laptop: my clients, my content, my finances, my network. What if it all goes wrong? Million of concerns, such as: “I keep all my download activation codes and other gubbins in a folder in Outlook. If I can’t get into Outlook because I haven’t reinstalled it yet, how will I be able to reinstall any of my software?”
I weighed it up. If I restore factory settings will I pass a point of no return, and make things worse? Conversely, it is at least something to try, and I can’t end up much worse than currently, surely?
I decided to take the plunge. My heart thumping, I hit the Enter key.
Fast forward one day, 165 Windows updates, and a lot of reinstalling, and my laptop is like new. It has belched out all the rubbish, runs much quicker (and I hope virus free), and best of all I now know what to do to recover if and when this happens again. I have learnt a lot, and best of all I have reminded myself of something important.
When you’re in a hole no one else knows even exists, the best person to get you out is you.
This was firmly impressed on my when I was about 25, on a leadership course in Devon. We were down an hole, funnily enough, this time a pothole. There were about 10 of us. I was second from last in the group, with a course instructor at the back. Until he disappeared. The reassuring light from his helmet vanished, and I suddenly realised I was on my own. I was x hundred feet below ground, I couldn’t hear any other human, the only light was from a weak lamp on my helmet, and the tunnel had just narrowed down so you had to crawl on your belly. I felt ahead with my hand and realised the next challenge was to put my head underwater, without knowing how long for.
Thought about calling out, realised it was pointless, and paused to think for a moment. Two choices: wait until they realised I was missing (hopefully), or keep going. I chose to keep going.
Fear of the unknown often holds us back, and makes us reliant on others. Sometimes the best way to grow is to take the risk. Maybe you have more potential than you realise? This is something I keep telling the people I work with in training rooms. It’s not something I practice enough on myself.
What might you be telling yourself you could never do? How about suspending that thought, just this once? Go on, I dare you!