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What to do when an asteroid hits you

Like most mornings, I got up early yesterday. And went through my morning routine like clockwork.

Finished my Yoga, showered, finished my morning prayer, meditated, finished my breakfast, and sat down to work.

I’d also planned my day well ahead of time. Get X done, then Y and then Z.

I was ready to take on the world.

What could go wrong?

Well…basically everything…

I opened my laptop — and before I could get to my first task — there it was.

A core piece of our product was broken. Customers were waiting…(im)patiently.

I couldn’t blame them. They rely on our product every day to get stuff done. And they rightly expect it to be up 24/7.

This was the last thing I needed today — when I’m already racing against time to get my fledgeling startup off the ground.

What I almost did

In my nervousness, I was tempted to call an urgent meeting with my colleague.

“We need to get this fixed right now”

The rest of the day would be predictable. We would spend the day fixing the fire, analysing the fire, then talking about it a bit more, then talk about life — then have some coffee. Then go to lunch. And do the whole thing all over again. Until it was almost ready to go home.

The next day I’d be back at work staring at items X, Y and Z. Rather than wanting to take on the world, this time around I’d be feeling uneasy, anxious and also have a tinge of regret.

“Why did I allow that problem to derail my whole day yesterday? What could I have done better?”

The good news

Well, that’s what almost happened.

I’m happy to report that I caught myself just in time.

I took a deep breath, re-composed myself and re-planned my day.

“I’m gonna give just enough attention to the new issue at hand. And no more.”

And that’s exactly what I did.


But I went further. Rather than get back to my original plan, I would play some Judo.

“Resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent’s attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him. This can apply whatever the relative values of power, thus making it possible for weaker opponents to beat significantly stronger ones.” [Source — Judo]

If I’d just tended to the immediate issue at hand and gotten back to my earlier plan, I wouldn’t have leveraged the full force of the asteroid that hit me.

So, once things were a bit calmer, I zoomed out — and did a 5-Why’s analysis.

What was the root cause of this issue?
What changes do we need to make in our product to avoid anything like this remotely happening again?

A better tomorrow

I uncovered a bunch of gaps that were weakening our foundation.

I’ve also changed the plan for the next couple of weeks, so we can invest the time and effort needed to fix those gaps.

Will this avoid an asteroid hitting me again? No.

But it won’t be the same asteroid :).

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