It was such a small thing, producing utter and complete aggravation. I had followed a seemingly innocuous “reset” instruction that appeared on my flat screen, pressing one tiny button with one tiny fingertip… then nothing.
My mechanical abilities?
The stuff of legend. For their absence, that is.
Staring blankly at my remote, I fume, wondering WHO creates these incomprehensible, interconnected, infuriating systems on which we depend, too often a source of constant consternation.
Let’s see… there are the random power outages, the online snafus, the return policies that don’t work out quite as described. There are the utility companies that can’t get your billing straight, the healthcare service providers that expect you to decipher their codes, the automated phone menus that perpetually circle you back to the start.
So… Why isn’t there a FIX button? A universal FIX button at that — for everything?
Or at least one that cuts through the ridiculous complexity of each hardware device in our living environments to bring us to a navigable HELP menu.
Okay, okay, maybe that’s too simplistic. And “help” rarely helps anyway, so now what?
Taking a long, deep breath, I decide to focus on my current dilemma. To bolster my brigade of brain cells for the battle I’m about to engage in. I pluck up the two remotes on hand and study them. I press INPUT, POWER, TV, POWER, INPUT… in various combinations, on each. Again and again. Still nothing.
I turn on every light in the room. I take more deep breaths. I ease the flat screen out from its usual position to reach the controls along its side, straining to see if there are more controls on its back. I push every poorly labeled button — those labels having nothing to do with power or resets — and nothing.
Software? No Problem. Hardware? Help!!!
Remotes, admittedly, have never been my strong suit. Likewise, anything with cables or wiring of any sort. And I’ll fess up: I’ve been known to fall back on both of my male progeny for nearly two decades of assistance, what I think of as my own little SOS — Sensible Outsourcing to Sons — of tasks that come so much more easily to them.
10 minutes pass. 15 minutes pass. The best I manage is that the screen powers on and off, but otherwise, nada.
Insert silent screaming, swearing, frustration, fatigue. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back on a day of diddly defeats. The kind that would matter little on their own, yet collectively, they bear enormous weight. Emotional weight, that is.
When wins elude you?
Efforts that fall flat wear you down. Routine defeats take on disproportionate importance. “Losing” begins to feel like the new normal, undermining confidence.
Your Formula for Success?
Success is a subject that is widely studied and reported on. In the US, notions of success are fundamental to our culture, and all too often, wedded to a concept of winners and losers can be deceptive and demoralizing. Everything is not a zero-sum game; the proverbial “win-win” may be more within grasp than we realize, though not in every domain.
The elements of success… at anything?
What pops into my mind first are these: motivation, self-discipline, visualizing the goal.
We can likely agree that the magic trio above isn’t all it takes; the odds of success in our personal and professional lives will be increased by positive attitude, knowledge or competence in the area in which we are striving, surrounding ourselves with good people, and a bit of luck.
Ideally, personal qualities like perseverance, determination, and self-discipline are coupled with competencies in problem-solving and relationship building. But sometimes, the power of persistence may be enough to push ourselves to achieve what we’re after, and as this article on the subject explains, persistence leads to success in this way:
As a key element of self-discipline, persistence also provides its own motivation. You become more eager to do something when your actions started showing results.
Exactly! We all know that success breeds more success. We can feel it — the way we’re motivated by a win, the momentum of multiple wins, the confidence gained in exercising our judgment, our skills, and grabbing that brass ring — or in my case, two remotes and a screen.
Give Me a W, Give Me an I, Give Me an N… WIN!
I shut the cabinet doors on the entertainment unit, go about my business, and resort to my mini-iPad for any required broadcast viewing.
Alas, while this is fine for an hour or so, it’s definitely not fine as a long-term option. Besides, I’m irked. I’m peeved. I’m pissed. I don’t want to be beaten by these bits of wire and plastic.
I focus. I recreate the recollection of my younger son setting up this TV. I break down the visual film of that process in my mind. Now I’m remembering that he used switches on the side.
I look again. The labels are counterintuitive — they read “channels” and “volume” — but the only logical conclusion is that these same switches double as navigation controls in order to access a menu, move vertically and horizontally through options, and pass from screen to screen. Then I locate an input switch that I hadn’t seen before.
I use the channel and volume switches as up-down and left-right, and the input switch as “enter.” Yes! It works! Cue the choir for a rousing chorus of Hallelujah as persistence yields results, and 15 minutes later I have a working TV.
Always on Tap: Life Lessons
There’s no question that emerging victorious in my flat screen battle counts as a small win. But even a small win can be a big deal when you’re up against something that you find challenging.
And the impacts of this “little victory?”
I’m reminded that a cool head prevails. I’m reminded that “winning” feels good, especially when winning is about achieving.
I’m reminded that I can do hard things. Hard, for me. Even after a string of disappointments.
I’m reminded that there is no shame in taking a step back to regroup because you’re too tired, too stressed, too overwhelmed, or simply lacking in key knowledge to proceed effectively.
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