Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Do Not Call for Assistance

When a new and unexpected problem arises, a worker or student may feel tempted to ask for help immediately, but that is weak and should be avoided. While asking for help is certainly a tool that one can consider when needed, pushing the "help button" straightaway bypasses another important tool, the brain. I have learned to wait, to give myself time to think. Thinking takes time and it cannot be rushed and does not have anything to do with deadlines.

I cannot tell you the number of times in my programming career that end users called me on the phone for instructions on how to do something that they could have figured out themselves if they had spent a single solitary minute thinking instead of panicking. People have a tendency to panic when confronted with anything out of the ordinary and that is weak. Computer programmers take measures, when possible, to avoid startling users, but sometimes things arise which cannot be avoided by any reasonable coding precaution, or more often, management isn't willing to devote the resources to permit the coding of very elegant software. Programmers cannot do as they like; they are told what to work on by management.

For me, I like to think first of all. I ask myself whether there is any possible way that I can fix a new problem without assistance. If the answer is no, then do you know what that means? That means that I need to think about it some more. I am hesitant to ask for help, because doing so is a mark of incompetence. It is not charming and it is not cute. It is taking time away from somebody else. I do not like to take time away from others. I would prefer my manager only hear from me when I have some good news or if there is an emergency situation.

The only time I really need to call for assistance right away is when time is limited, but time is almost never limited. Even if a customer is waiting, they can usually wait a bit longer. Few things are so urgent that they cannot wait a few minutes for my brain to engage. I can figure out most things that do not require secret knowledge that I have no way of knowing or special abilities. That is one of my advantages. If there is a way something can be done and if the way can be perceived by an ordinary person, then I will find it, even if the problem has never been seen before.

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