I am a Fixer. Since I was in the single digits age, I loved learning how things work. My self study each morning during breakfast into the hardware catalogs on our kitchen table was fun. I remember constantly going over products that had simple sketches and pictures showing the product installed and in use around the yard or house. I didn’t realize at the time but in that daily practise, I was already developing my own process of discovering, absorbing, questioning and reaffirming the catalog curriculum. This was my first self discovery into design, process and relationships.
Fast forward to when I graduate from technical college and get my first job in an industrial radio manufacturing plant. I was on a test bench testing and making initial settings to electronic modules for receivers and transmitters. First was tuning them to specs set by the designer of it. Because we were smaller, when we met our quota we had a chance to fix the units that did not work. That was a thrill and real confidence builder as I got to put my learned theory to the test. When I did fix units, it was a real confidence booster.
Fast forward again to the longest part of my career of 20 years when I was designing complex multi-layer printed circuit boards. It was like 3-D chess. Given a circuit board with set boundaries, the design begins by me staring at a mess of hundreds of components and thousands of connections between related components. My challenge over the next several months was to manually place all the components such that their interconnecting relationships were clean, efficient and complete. After many years, I realized the gyst of this skill was in recognizing patterns and assessing based on what I see.
Parallel to this part of my midlife, and I get involved with Toastmasters and learning how to deliver a speech I designed, with purpose, confidence and influence. A large part of the Toastmasters educational program is another member giving me a 2 to 3 minute oral evaluation and feedback on my speech. Strengths were identified but more importantly, I received feedback on how to make my speech more effective using all possible skills and techniques. This is ideal; a person like a personal coach, that tells you specifically what to change on the input side, so that you arrive at the results you want in the end. However, life is not that simple and easy. Over time and attending so many meetings I also began to observe and realize how people themselves are relationships amongst each other, like the physical entities I mentioned above and that some members exhibit specific responses, either favorable or undesirable. I call it “people dynamics” and discovered this part of our human interraction which goes with no feedback. I was on my own. I began to sense, feel and sometimes see specific responses to what I did or said. My previous career skill of recognizing patterns in physical components transgressed into people relationships. I was moving forward.
If something happens once, it is an occurrence. If it happens 2 or 3 times, it is a pattern. And if it continues to occur, it is a wake up call. Fate is telling you that you must change something on the input side if you want to change the outputs or results. Ideally, it would be easy if someone gave us feedback on what we need to change to improve our end result with respect to people and how we relate to them. But in that absence one must learn how to observe the patterns, assess what best to change in their process, perform with that new change, observe the new result and make your assessment. This becomes an interitive process, more commonly known as CPI – Continuous Process Improvement.
If you start to sense and feel that the results are always the same and you don’t like those results, then you must change your initial process, an input at the beginning of your process, sometimes in huge and radical steps, to change the resulting outcome to which you desire. Broken processes, design, continuous process improvement and pattern recognition all work hand in hand which you have alot of control in. Watch the accompanying short 5 minute video of when I succinctly describe my arrival, after many years to be able to reflect the human process within you.