There was a sigh of relief as the computer photographed below worked once again. That is the single most significant memory I treasure most throughout the rough battle that is my career. Moments like that carry me through the stresses of things going wrong, embarrassing myself, general failures, and those moments of self doubt where I really screwed up. When you help others and hear those sighs of relief, treasure them! While not a superhero…
You’re a temporary superhero when you help others.
That’s assuming you didn’t actually save a life with your actions. On the surface, you might have just did some work that you might earnestly think to yourself, without judgement: “anyone could have done this. I’m not that special. It was just [a missing element] or [loose connection] or something.”
All you did was fix an issue, right? All part of the job…
It’s not merely a fix. It’s alleviating a pertinent stress point. Stress kills! It’s not so dramatic to say that helping someone through a problem is the equivalent of slaying one of their more persistent stress demons. If that stress demon weren’t weighing them down, they could slay it, too.
There’s the hidden truth: if they could have fixed it, they would have fixed it.
When someone reaches out to me for support, I’ll first suss out their psychological condition. Are they upset over the situation? I’ll calm them down before applying any fix. Is it annoying enough that they tolerate it? I’ll ask to work on the issue, fix it, then let them know.
Over the years, I learned that the most important thing is not the fix itself.
The most important thing is “keeping production productive.” Businesses lose money over downtime. Customers lose patience over stressful situations. You can lose your wellbeing! I’ve spent countless non-billable hours, even recently, trying to figure out fixes to oddball problems and I’m more apt to disengage than most of my peers.
So we want to share the fix with the customer. We fixed it! It’s all good now!
My hardest fought lesson: I don’t call my field “applied psychology” for nothing. The customer’s priority is returning to a state of normalcy. After I help them out, if they’re curious what I did, I’ll use analogies to explain what happened. Maybe a succinct version of the fix, if appropriate.
Otherwise, I’ll engage in pleasant conversation of relief, then I’m onto the next one.
I generally keep a detached attitude with my work. That’s mainly because some people are easily addicted to things or people that relieve stress. That might actually be one root cause of addiction. It’s partially why I consider some people technojunkies or slaves to technology. I’m not someone’s anti-stress dealer.
That said, I enjoy doing good work.
Having helped out hundreds of people over the years, most became temporary acquaintances, some: friends. Some even wished me a happy birthday yesterday.
I may have accidentally given my best work for those friends.