Working the Problem – How Not to Melt Down


I’ve had two recent experiences working on tight, perhaps, impossible deadlines, and surpised myself on how I handled each situation. One was a pleasant surprise, the other not so much.

I work with a number of media-related projects in my line of work at . I had one where I was relying on information provided to me, assembling it and preparing it for use. As the end user in the food chain, I was under the gun and way past deadline because everyone else was running behind.

My M-O is that I will work myself to exhaustion to get a project done for a client. Work the problem, I usually say, improve the process later. However, I found myself growing more and more frustrated as the deadline approached, then slipped and slipped again. Instead of following the philosophy that had once served me so well, I engaged in venting, lashing out and other negative behaviors that did not advance the the project. Fortunately, was surrounded by supportive co-workers and project-mates who helped me re-focus and finish the project as soon as possible. Their positive energy prevented me from imploding.

Less than a week later, the situation was reversed. I was the content provider, working with someone who was editing on (or past) deadline. When the project stumbled, due largely to equipment failure, I sensed my project-mate’s tension growing, and although he is not me, I knew how negative things could get based on my lashing-out just in the last week.

So, I remained calm, brought what resources I could to bear to help fix the problem, rolled up my sleeves and helped fix things as best as could be done. My teammate slowly relaxed, made good choices about working the problem, and we recovered with some time lost, but the projects were delivered on time.

What lessons did I learn? Sometimes, even when I know what the right thing to do is, I don’t do it. And I suffer, and make those around me suffer when I don’t behave in my best self. I know the right path to take to solve problems, and when I take that path, things are done and done right.