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Gift Guide 2013: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

November 30th, 2013 Comments off

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

While some might read a book like this for tips on manipulating others to do what they want, I found some great insight into what drives people to make the choices they do. As an organizer of events like CareerCampLA and others, finding ways to persuade people to sponsor and attend these events is critical. Yes! has many great ideas on how to use people’s own desire to be persuaded to work in your favor, and hopefully their favor as well.

 

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Archive: The difference between your job, your work and your career — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 29th, 2013 Comments off

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As we talk about our job, our work and our career, we often use the terms interchangeably. In reality, though, these 3 items are unique descriptions of 3 parts of our life, each with their own concerns, demands and direction. As a way of clarifying my own thinking, and providing some insight for you, let’s explore the differences between job, work and career and how understanding those differences can greatly effect all of them.

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Your job

At its most basic level, your job is what you are doing right now. We get up each morning and go to our workplace, where we perform a series of tasks outlined by our management and our company. For this work we are rewarded with a paycheck and benefits. If you want to succeed in a job, you do your best to meet the goals provided by management in the most expedient way possible. In some of the best jobs, you might have significant input into the process, improving your work and the business of the company over time. More importantly, a job is all about the company and the day-to-day tasks you perform.

As you can see, while a job is part of a career, it certainly isn’t the career itself. In fact, as you build your career, you will find that older jobs have little continuing effect on your career. Many of us work in relatively low-level positions earlier in our career and while they might generate significant experience, it is a rare first or second job, that is mentioned in our resume 20 years later.

Your Work

On the other hand, your “work” is less about the present and more of a short term continuum. It is what you might be doing over several years and perhaps even several different jobs. Furthermore, thoughts about your work should be divided equally between your own needs and those of your current employer. You need to decide which work is best for you while still balancing those needs with those of your employer. Over time you will establish the work to which you are the best suited and also which type of work you most enjoy. This knowledge guides your job choices over time, constantly refining your work into something that begins to turn into a career.

Your Career

Finally, your career — the sum total of all your individual jobs and your decisions about your work — is all about you. Your career is the work you have decided to do for extended periods of your life. You might not have one career forever, but careers usually span years, if not decades. In my own case, my career of computer consulting has lasted over 20 years, while my writing career spans over 15 years.

Most importantly, your career is totally under your control. When you are making decisions about your career, you need to divorce yourself from one particular job or employer. You must place their needs behind your own when developing your career. These jobs might help you achieve your career, but your career is more than the sum total of these parts. Too often, we allow ourselves to be pushed from job to job, allowing others to develop a “career” for us. Allowing this de facto career creation is dangerous, though. Often it leads us into career we don’t enjoy, unchallenging work and a succession of meaningless jobs. A career is yours to control, if you take ownership of it.

An Example

Let us take a typical IT staffer as an example of these concepts. The job for a network manager in a typical company is focused on today, or perhaps, this week. Fix that router. build that server, install that network link.

Her work, though, reaching further out into the timeline, might be to become a network designer or freelance consultant, fulfilling the day to day needs of her employer, but also exploring other areas of interest to her — balancing her current job with her other life desires.

Finally, her career might include forays into other areas of technology, gradually adjusting the type of jobs and type of work she seeks until she has focused her career on the type of work she desires most. Eventually, she might find another career that interests her even more and the entire process begins to repeat itself.

There is a wide difference between your job, your work and your career, and each area requires different attention and thought. Don’t confuse your current job with your career or you might find yourself following someone else’s agenda and ending up with a career you don’t really want.

***

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Self-Knowledge: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist – Part 5 — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

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Read and listen to previous parts of the series:

While having a deep knowledge of the world around you is incredibly important in your career, even more important is a deep self-knowledge of your strengths, weakness, wants, needs, and desires. You must know what you want out of your life and career, what you know, what you don’t know and the difference between them. It is only in this way that you can make the best decisions for yourself and your own, unique career. Otherwise, you will be susceptible to control by others or even arrogant about your own knowledge and skills.


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 Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

 

Knowing what you don’t know

If your experiences are like mine, you will meet many people in your life who suffer from the fact of not knowing what they don’t know. They assume mastery in nearly every context and, even when proven wrong, they will still insist they are right and more knowledgeable than those around them. Not only are these people difficult, if not outright annoying, they also hamper their own career and the careers of those around them. They can bring failure to everything and everyone they touch, without ever acknowledging their own part in that failure. They can even successfully deflect any blame for their failures and end up placing that blame on their co-workers while they continue to rise in an organization. Recognize these people, and this behavior, in your own career and minimize your contact with these people.

While you can certainly be proud of your own knowledge, knowing when to ask for help, do more research, and take advice from others is invaluable. You don’t have to fight all the battles yourself. Take advantage of the wide range of skills and information that are easily available today. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. It is a sign of great self-knowledge and maturity and can only help to further your career greatly. People will come to understand that you have a dedication to learning instead of assuming that you know everything already – which is impossible for anyone. There is no need to be a know-it-all in your career, but being a learn-it-all can make you invaluable wherever you might work.

Knowing what you want

Another deeply important aspect of self-knowledge is knowing what you want out of your life and career. Too often, we allow life to push us from one job to another, one relationship to another, without much thought has to how it will effect our life and work. Taking the time, each day, to contemplate what you want, what you are trying to accomplish and where you want to be in 1, 5, 10 years is critical to your overall happiness and mental health. There will be times in your life and career when you will have to decide between what is best for your career and what is best for you, personally. At these time, we can often make errors in our judgement, because we put our career, our family, our ego ahead of our own wants, needs and desires. This is when our thinking, and our careers, can quickly go astray. Sure, that new job in management might benefit your wallet or your ego, but it could also make you very, very unhappy, if you don’t desire the more fundamental changes it will bring with it. Think deeply whether new changes align properly with your own wants, needs and desires, or you could be setting yourself up for a dramatic and painful failure.

It isn’t difficult to gain and maintain self-knowledge, but you must first realize how important it is to your overall career happiness and success. Once you make this realization, you will immediately see those occasions when you ignored your own desires or didn’t consider what effect your actions would have on those desires. Yes, it can feel easier to ignore the big issues in your life and resist the deep thinking they require, but I can guarantee they will still be present and active in your life. They will still deeply effect your life and career, whether you pay attention to them or not. How much better could your career be if, instead of ignoring these issues, you gave them the attention they require. What if you did the deep thinking required to direct yoru career instead of simply letting it happen to you? If you seek deep self-knowledge, I believe that rather than being a hinderance, these issues could be the building blocks of the career you deserve.

***

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Archive: Productive waiting — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 22nd, 2013 Comments off

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Despite all the advancements in technology and the generally “sped up” nature of life, waiting is still a part of every day. Unless you are in a position of extreme power, and maybe even then, there will be times in every day when you will be forced to wait. You might have to wait for the train to begin your commute, wait in line at the bank, or wait for your turn at the doctor’s office. You might have to wait on hold to talk to a representative. Regardless of the cause of your waiting, one way to increase your overall productivity is to always be ready to exploit these periods of waiting.

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

Despite all the advancements in technology and the generally “sped up” nature of life, waiting is still a part of every day. Unless you are in a position of extreme power, and maybe even then, there will be times in every day when you will be forced to wait. You might have to wait for the train to begin your commute, wait in line at the bank, or wait for your turn at the doctor’s office. You might have to wait on hold to talk to a representative. Regardless of the cause of your waiting, one way to increase your overall productivity is to always be ready to exploit these periods of waiting.

My own approach to waiting grew out of a general impatience and dislike of waiting. Combine this with a low-level case of claustrophobia and you can imagine why I had to develop some method of coping. Over the years, this has taken many forms. Early on, I learned to keep a book or other reading material with me at all times. As technology started to improve, I added a PDA for other purposes, but found I could load reading material on it as well. Cell phones can help to fill the time although you run the risk of annoying those around you, or your caller while trying to do business in public.

Finally, WiFi networking and wireless broadband such as EVDO and Edge, allows you to access the Internet from almost anywhere, bringing your office with you wherever you go…the current nadir of productive waiting.

Now that we have seen a few ways to wait more productively, let’s talk about the why. In our increasingly go, go, go world, one of the most common complaints is the lack of time to do our work and live our lives. When long commutes are added to our increasingly long workdays, we can begin to feel that we have no time for ourselves. Even someone like myself who, as a freelancer, has a greater control over my time, finds my days driven by the needs of my clients and other deadlines. This is why we need to use the time that might otherwise be wasted. We need to recapture this time in order to free our evenings and weekends for those thoughts and activities in which we “want” to engage.

I realize that this might all sound very commonsensical, yet I talk with people nearly every day that are bemoaning their lack of time, but doing little to recapture their, otherwise wasted, waiting time.
In order to make the most of everyday, I highly recommend that you find some way to integrate the following recommendations into your day. First, your waiting activities can be passive or active, depending on what you need to accomplish. Sometimes, you might need to be drafting a memo to your staff as you ride the subway. At others, you might simply need to immerse yourself in a business podcast or book on tape as you drive yourself (or ride the subway with your iPod).

Regardless of what you do, or how you do it, though, the most important rule is that, whatever you do, it must add value to your day. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all your activities will focus on business, though. On my own iPod, shows from technology conferences intermix with old-time radio, humor, and general information. All of this suits the idea of coping with long wait times . Engaging the mind is beneficial, regardless of how you do it. You need to be selective about what you input, but it can be quite wide-ranging.

I often spend some of my waiting time writing these columns, other articles, blog posts or simply noting ideas in the paper journal, I carry everywhere. Not only does this keep me productive throughout my day, but also it allows me to grab inspiration, wherever and whenever it might strike.
I also find that striking up conversations with those around you can also be very productive. We don’t always need to hide behind our cell phones and iPod. In many cases, I find myself handing out business cards and developing business relationships, but at the very least, I have fun meeting nice people and expanding my contact to, and understanding of, the world around me.

Regardless of how you fill your waiting time, it only takes a little thought to turn wasted hours into productivity, whether for professional reasons, personal reasons, or both.

***

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Gift Guide 2013: Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

November 20th, 2013 Comments off

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Well-known blogger (gapingvoid.com), back-of-business-card cartoonist and advertising copywriter, Hugh MacLeod, leads us through his list of “What I Believe” in his book, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity.

Like other books I have read recently, this is what I consider a “real world example.” Every aspect of the book draws on his experiences in advertising, blogging and cartooning. It makes you think. It make you stop sometimes and glance up at the ceiling to take stock of what you have just read. Some of the sections may seem contradictory to others that you have read, but that’s ok. Life itself is pretty contradictory, too, and the best advice is often to look at a problem from all sides.

Some sections feel like MacLeod is getting in you face and telling you how he thinks the world really operates. You can chose to believe him, or not, but you can’t ignore him. I think this is one of the marks of a good author. Mediocre authors can be be ignored, but good authors force you to pay attention, whether you agree with them or not.

Ignore Everybody is based on a blog, so it is divided into distinctly blog-like sections. Each has a beginning, middle and end, but also ties together nicely as a whole. MacLeod even recommends blogging for others who want to share their creativity with the world — something I often recommend myself to my clients. Those unfamiliar with blogs might find the style a big choppy, but even someone older like me can find it enjoyable and informative if you keep an open mind.

If you need a recharge in your creative life, are looking for the next step in your career or just trying to make sense of the world around you, Ignore Everybody could be an interesting and enjoyable read.

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Empathy: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist – Part 4 — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 18th, 2013 Comments off

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Read and listen to previous parts of the series:

Empathy is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another”. This can sound a bit confusing and academic, so I often think about empathy in this way. Empathy is imagining how you might feel were you placed in the position, given the same experiences and basically, lived the life of someone else.


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We all have some empathetic ability, even if we subsume it under the needs of business, career and life. Too often, we ignore our empathetic feelings towards others and convince ourselves that it really isn’t important how another person feels, as long as you are accomplishing your goals. Unfortunately, it is thinking like this that makes the world a more difficult and unpleasant place to live sometimes. Instead of understanding, empathetically, the feelings of others, we try to “win” at the expense of others instead of trying to build situations where everyone wins.

Instead of this hard-nosed tactic towards life, I believe that empathy is one of the 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist. Through empathy, we can ease our own path — and the path of others — develop deep, meaningful relationships — in both life and work — and help ourselves by helping those around us. Sure, bullish, brutish methods can generate success, too, but I believe that the costs involved in those methods — the enemies and enmity created, the damage to the lives of others and the general dehumanization of others — can leave even the most successful person feeling empty, lost and unhappy.

Empathy is especially important when working with others, either as co-workers, customers or clients. Understanding the wants, needs and desires of your customer and clients — and serving them — is the defining factor of many successful businesses. It quickly and easily differentiates them from other companies with less empathetic methods and gives them great, competitive advantage in both the short and long term. Companies that seek to win, no matter how badly their customers lose, will find their customers abandoning them as soon as a better competitor comes along.

It is almost impossible for companies to act in empathetic ways towards their customers if their management and their employees are not also empathetic in their own relationships with one-another. Problems within a business often quickly become problems with customers and clients. Faced with a “dog-eat-dog” environment in the office, you can’t expect employees to treat customers any differently. They are conditioned to think of themselves first, and will do so at every opportunity. When trying to develop better relationships with your clients and customers, you first need to look to your own behaviors and policies to insure that you aren’t doing to your employees what they are doing to your customers.

As someone who has worked in customer service and support for 30 years, I learned early on that empathy for the client was an important, if not required, aspect of a successful career. I have been been told over the years that I am quite different from the “typical computer support person”, whatever that is. For me, I directly credit this to my sense of empathy with clients, whether they are young or old, tech-savvy or newbie. My methods weren’t created theoretically, but rather discovered through long experience. I found that, in order to be an effective consultant, I often had to remember what it was like to not know something. I had to remember and understand the fear, frustration and failure that went into learning about technology, in all its forms. This empathy allowed me to be patient, methodical and creative in my training and troubleshooting, never making anyone feel stupid — as I clearly remembered how it felt when someone had done to me in the past. This is where I think many teachers, trainers and customer support people fail. They no longer remember what it feels like to not know something and simply consider their customers stupid, capricious or mean. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Take pains to remember how you feel in specific situations and you will clearly know what your co-workers, customers and clients are feeling. You will be able to empathize with their challenges and successes and be much less likely to treat them as impediments to your own goals. No one lives in isolation and you either seek to understand those around you with empathy or, instead, see each day as a constant battle against nameless, faceless “others”. Even worse, people will come to treat you in exactly the same way. Discover your empathy and it will ease everyone’s path through life, work and career.

***

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Gift Guide 2013: Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

November 18th, 2013 Comments off

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

I have read — and re-read — Do the work by Steven Pressfield and would highly recommend you do the same. In fact, I am thinking that I will make it (and Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art) required reading before I will work with any client. Both books have helped me tremendously in my life and work. We all have to start somewhere on our creative adventures and Pressfield’s books are like an experienced guide that can help to lead us through the creative forest. Revisiting them on a regular basis reenergizes me to face the fight that all creatives feel.

Of course, creativity isn’t just the domain of some specialized class of people. We are all creative in unique ways and we all experience the haunting voice of resistance, as Pressfield names the monster that frightens all of us away from big, transformative changes in our lives. Pressfield reminds us of the nature of this beast and gives us the tools we need to defeat it — again and again.

In my work, I meet so many people who don’t realize their own potential. They drastically underestimate their power to change their lives and change the world. They face the resistance dragon and allow it to eat them nearly every time instead of emerging, triumphant, like St. George. It is often my goal to give them the tools — the horse, the lance, the sword — to help them slay the dragon of resistance just as I have to fight against it everyday. Sometimes I can bring them along with me — at other times, not, but I will never stop trying.

So, to repeat my unasked for advice — get these books, read them and then start on your own creative adventure. You can overcome resistance and create something new, something unique and something great!

The War of Art is also available from Amazon and your local public library. Add it to your creative toolbox today!

 

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Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – November 17, 2013

November 17th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered

 CareerCampSCV (Santa Clarita Valley) 2013 - 88 

Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email. 

  • Paid Internship: The Bully Project
  • Part-time Fashion Advisor
  • Harbor Freight Tools is Hiring
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Assistant to Film/TV Producer
  • Assistant Position at Good Universe

Link to Tuesdays with Transitioners for details on all these positions and past listings

** Find more jobs on the Career Opportunities Job Board from SimplyHired.com

Archive: Creativity in All Careers — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 15th, 2013 Comments off

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A few weeks ago, I interviewed creativity consultant Jo Ann Braheny for the Career Opportunities podcast. This interview started me thinking about how important it is to integrate creativity into your career, regardless of the type of work you do. You can no longer divide jobs into “creative” and “functional”. Much like my belief that every career has become a high-tech career (See http://welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/2006/co060217.asp), every career can and should also be a creative career. If you embrace this fact, you can take your career to an entirely new level.

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The fact is, work has always been creative. It is just now that companies and individuals are recognizing how important creativity can be across the entire company and not just in the traditional “creative” departments. You only have to take note of all the innovation programs springing up at most large companies, new books like Innovation: The 5 Disciplines and podcasts like Phil McKinney’s Killer Innovations. We see now that creativity, at all levels, can directly effect the bottom line. Without creative new approaches to all aspects of business, companies risk sliding into irrelevancy. Competition is relentless and if workers aren’t thinking and applying all their new thoughts, they might find themselves out of a job.

One interesting artifact of this new creativity discussion is the changing terminology. Almost as if they are trying to avoid the “softer” nature of the word creativity, innovation has become the accepted term within most corporations. I think that this shows a small reluctance and a general fear of creativity even among those who are trying to embrace it. Often subtle cues like this can reveal a company’s true relationship with creativity and innovation.

There are many ways you, personally, can begin to embrace creativity in your own work, even without a corporate innovation program. The first step is to simply think about creativity more each day. Too often, we find our most creative thoughts buried beneath our daily workload. You need to develop methods of thinking creatively and then capturing those thoughts immediately.

My favorite method of collecting my ideas is a rather old-fashioned one, a paper journal. I take this book with me wherever I go and make a point of jotting down even the simplest thoughts that occur to me. In fact, this is exactly how I collect ideas for Career Opportunities, constantly building a ready supply of topics that might have been lost otherwise.

Of course, you will collect ideas about your own work and interests. Maybe you came up with a way to reduce the number of forms required for a loan application or a new programming algorithm. How about a new story you want to write or maybe even an entirely new business you could start?

It is important that you don’t judge these ideas, but rather just get them down in your journal, PDA, computer or notepad. At the first flash of an idea, you can never tell how it might be useful to you in the future. In fact, I find that in some perverse natural law, the ideas we often find silliest when first noted can be exactly the ideas that are most useful in the future. Just get the ideas down, you can figure out how to use them later.

Next, when confronting particularly difficult problems, set aside a few moments to simply think about the problem and note any thoughts that come to mind. Don’t just dive into the problem. If you do, you might end up on the wrong track when a better answer was at your fingertips. You might not come up with the perfect solution to the problem this time, but your notes and thoughts may trigger new responses in the future. If you do happen to hit on a great new idea, your notes will be the first stage in documenting that idea so can you build on it and share it with others.
Build your own, personal, innovation program today. You don’t have to wait on your company or anyone else to get started. Check out some of the great materials, books and podcasts on innovation and take the first step in building your career through creativity.

***

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Troubleshooting: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist – Part 3 — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

November 11th, 2013 Comments off

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Read and listen to previous parts of the series:

You might typically think of troubleshooting skills as something specific to computer and technology support roles, but I can assure you that troubleshooting is an elemental skill of every successful careerist, regardless of the work you do.

I first learned my troubleshooting lessons at the knee of my master mechanic father, Harold, who can disassemble nearly anything, fix it and put it back together in even better working order. I watched him fix everything from home appliances to earthmovers the size of small houses and I think I organically absorbed his troubleshooting strategies long before I ever consciously recognized that the concept of troubleshooting even existed. I then took these skills and turned them into a very lucrative and success career in computers and other technology. I often say that I do the same work my father did, but my hands don’t get nearly as dirty.

If you want to be successful at troubleshooting anything, and also at your career, here are some guidelines to follow when solving problems for yourself and other.


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First, do no harm (Primum non nocere)

Never leave yourself, or a client, worse off than when you started your troubleshooting. Back up data. Note previous settings. Save configuration files. Do whatever is necessary to save the current, partially working, state of a device if it is functioning at all. This provides you something of a “fall back” position if a complete solution is not easily found. Sometimes you may also need this information to “start over” in your troubleshooting when you go down the wrong path.

Change 1 thing at a time, then test

If you change more than one variable at a time when you are troubleshooting, you might eventually solve the problem, but you will often have no idea which change actually solved the problem. You want and need to understand how you solved a problem because, the fact is, if you face a problem once, you will often face it again. Knowing how to go directly to the solution can save you a great amount of time in the future, but only if you know exactly how you solved the problem.

Changing multiple variables at once can also lead you astray into thinking you have solved a problem when in fact you haven’t. Often you can suppress one problem beneath another bigger problem. You haven’t really solved it, just created a larger problem that obscures the original one. Once you solve the bigger problem, the smaller one will, with frustrating regularity, reappear just when you think you are done.

Use the scientific method rigorously and religiously

  • Develop a question
  • Research the questions
  • Construct a hypothesis
  • Test your hypothesis with an experiment
  • Analyze the results
  • Repeat

I can assure you, the scientific method will set you free and allow you to solve even the most difficult problems. Even more, take “scientific” notes as you work through a problem. This both documents your process and gives you a way to develop new ideas if your current path of thinking doesn’t work. Note what didn’t work, so you can develop a path to what does work. I cannot overstate the importance of using the scientific methods to solves any problem. It is the foundation and heart of troubleshooting.

Error messages are your friend

Nothing is more difficult to solve than the problem that presents no errors. When something simply stops working, it can leave you without any hypothesis to test. You don’t even know where to begin. At these times, the only thing you can do is poke and prod the system, trying different features and options until some error message occurs. These errors then, at least, give you some place to look for the problem.

Regardless of the technology involved, errors might still be presented, if you know where to look. The flashing lights on your cable modem actually are showing you an error status, if you can find a reference guide. That blinking light on your electric toothbrush means something, too. A flashing red light on nearly any device can be a sign of a problem. Look for the error. Interpret the error. Follow the error. It is there you will find a path to a possible solution, often when you had no idea where to look.

Anyone can be an excellent troubleshooter if you start with these guidelines. Sure, troubleshooting can require some creative thinking, too, but you need to start on a firm foundation of process and preparation so you can think clearly about the problem and develop the data necessary to create your solution. Slow and steady wins the race in troubleshooting, but as you use these tools more and more, you will find yourself becoming better and better at solving the problems in your life, work and career.

***

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