Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Curious about the Power of a "Work Around?"

I spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer. I also have many of the up-to-date software programs that are considered to be “on the cutting edge.” And yet, even though these programs are tops, the more I work with them, the more of their idiosyncrasies I encounter.

What is a computer geek (or geekette) to do when a program doesn’t perform the way it is supposed to?

Creating a “work around” is the answer. After following the steps in the manual (I have all of the manuals) and even asking for help from the gurus in a forum, I have found that with thinking the problem through and testing a variety of choices, I can usually come up with what we in the computer business call a “work around.” It is not always easy or sensible, but it works - it gets us where we want to be with the results we want to have.

Last week I ran into another kind of problem that was computer related, but didn’t happen on my computer. I was launching a website that I had just completed for a client. To make it work smoothly at its new Internet address, I asked the man who also works for the same client to make two simple changes to the current domain name (registered to him). No matter how politely and nicely I begged, he wouldn’t do it.

I couldn’t believe it. I even lost some sleep over it. And then, EUREKA, I planned a “work around.” I found a more descriptive domain name for the website, cancelled the first Internet address, and, within a day, it was happily up and running with its new and better name at a new home on the Internet. Everyone was relieved and happy.

The more I thought about this whole process, I realized how convenient and successful it is to create “work arounds” when there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward solution to a problem.

Many years ago, I decided to go back to college to do some serious work with clay. Yes, you read it correctly. My goal was to become a potter, and when I say “serious” I wasn’t planning to make owls and ash trays as a hobby. I wanted to learn from the best. Unfortunately, Kent State University already had an abundance of art students, and they weren’t at all excited to add “a housewife from the suburbs” to their roster.

The only way I could become registered for an art class was to get a signed permission slip from the instructor of that class. I discovered early on that begging didn’t work. So I created a “work around.” It hadn’t been my initial plan, but when speaking to the instructors I told them that my first degree was in mathematics (the truth) and I wanted to take art classes to create a portfolio so I could get into the Graduate School of Art (not my dream or goal at the time).

The only class I could get a permission slip for in the beginning was a fiber class, so I worked in fiber. In the meantime, I went to the clay instructors and promised I would create the most pots in the class, mix the glazes and fire the kilns. Yes, I got into the clay classes. And, I had talked about graduate school enough, so that I became the only student who was enrolled for an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) with a double major - fiber and clay - in Studio Art.

Over the years, I have used many “work arounds” to solve problems and achieve goals.

To create a successful “work around” I suggest the following:
  • Have a goal that is truly important to you, or a pressing problem that has to be solved.
  • Believe that you can create a successful “work around” that will benefit all who are involved.
  • Try many possible paths and solutions until you find one that works.
  • Never give up.

I would love to hear about your “work arounds.” I am sure you have plenty. Keep up the good work!