“Man quit, hire another; mule die, buy another: zip bam, by damn, let’s go!” That was my dad’s response whenever someone would relate a problem. His point: “don’t be detoured by events—handle them.”
Early one morning, I received a call from a foremen telling me that he was quitting to go to work for my roofing superintendent. The call occasioned a double shock: the foreman quitting and learning my superintendent was my competitor. I prepared to take the crew leader’s place and the roofing department manager made sure the trucks were loaded and the other foremen properly instructed.
We never missed a beat: the job was completed on time and within budget. The only casualty was a brand new watch I dropped into a bucket of hot asphalt and is still a part of the roof. The next week, promising never to stray again, the prodigal foreman returned and I resumed my regular duties.
Years later I was responsible for a large convention and trade show . Two weeks before the show, our meeting planner suddenly and unexplainably resigned. Then, I thought it was because of a personal situation—now I know when someone quits before a major event, it’s an indicator of a major problem.
There were two luncheons planned during the convention: during one we had booked the musical group Up With People to appear and a fashion show was to be held at the other. The day the musical group was scheduled, I noticed a beautiful woman carrying a garment bag; a minute later, I saw two more and then another. A slender, gorgeous blonde caught my eye, walked over and asked the question that ruined my morning: “I need to change for the talent show; where’s the dressing room?” Suddenly, it became apparent: the meeting planner had resigned because she booked the music group and the fashion show during the same luncheon!
Zip bam, by damn, let’s go—the models paraded while Up With People sang and the following day we held a “best idea” competition. Both luncheons were hits: our attendees loved the “musical fashion show” and collected helpful ideas during the best idea competition.
When things go wrong, you can’t walk away, or hope someone will bail you out—you have to play the hand you are dealt. Keeping a cool head; surveying alternatives; seeking ideas and solutions; making a decision and moving forward are the steps to handling unexpected hurdles. Zip bam, by damn, let’s go!
“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” -Theodore Rubin