We had done it. A difficult project. Finally launched.
Not after days or weeks of toiling. But after more than 12 months of trial and error. We had found and solved countless problems. Not only were we proud of our new product, but we also had a few delighted customers to vouch for it.
To say that my team and I were ecstatic would be an understatement.
The dust settled after a few days. The euphoria dissipated, but our self-confidence in the future of our product had gone through the roof.
Now…nothing could stop us.
“Vaidy, the notifications on my iPhone stopped working, so I’ve disconnected your app. Lemme know when it’s fixed.”
When I saw that message from a customer, I felt a lump in my throat. I had an uneasy feeling about this issue.
Hoping against hope, I checked with my team: “It’s not a big deal, right? We can fix this quickly, yes?”
After a few hours, the test results came back. Positive. The problem was for real. And it affected a good bunch of our customers.
“It’ll take about 1-2 months to fix. This bug is tricky. It happens on all iPhones.”
When I heard that from our CTO, I could hear my world crashing down.
At best, we had no more than a week to get back on our feet. What rabbit could we pull out of the hat?
The 12 months of hard work that we’d invested in this..would all that effort go up in smoke?
I felt like I was thrown into a prison cell. And forced to come up with an escape plan..while there was a ticking bomb placed next to me inside the cell.
But panicking or worrying wasn’t going to change anything.
I took a deep breath. Then placed all my other tasks aside. And gave this problem my full undivided attention.
I came up with 3 options:
1. Suggest a not-so-clean and a potentially annoying workaround to our iPhone users. Very unlikely they would accept the solution.
2. A backup plan for our business in case we lost all iPhone users as customers. Back to the drawing board. Could work, but it would set us back about 2 months.
3. Figure out a way to fix the issue once and for all within a few days. Ideal but almost impossible.
I hated all 3 options. But those were the cards that I was dealt with. So I played the game.
Then something crazy happened. After a challenging 72 hours…I found myself successful in all 3 of those options.
Of course, now that we had a permanent solution to the problem, we didn’t need the workaround or a backup business plan.
Once again…excitement and happiness. We were back on track.
Those 3 to 4 days were hard. But looking back, I feel grateful for the experience. I was able to grow in multiple ways:
Pressure: Our physical, mental and emotional muscles grow only when they’re put subjected to pressure. I’m now more resilient than I was before this episode.
Empathy: I was embarrassed to ask my customers to try the less-than-optimal workaround. But I was surprised when they agreed to try it out with much less resistance than I’d expected. Perhaps it wasn’t a big deal after all. Or it could be that the rest of the solution was sufficiently high value, that the workaround was a reasonable compromise for them. Either way, I can now see the world better through their eyes.
Interdependence: To get the problem resolved permanently, we had to reach out to the open-source community. And guess what? They were as generous and helpful as we could have asked for. When we’re vulnerable, ask for help, and then get helped by others, we get stronger, not weaker.
Spirituality: Two points here:
- Change is the only constant: “This too will pass”. And it did. The more I can keep this in mind, the more peaceful I’ll be.
- This is a BIG game: We tend to get caught up in things that seem big at the moment. But with better perspective, we can see that everything is just a link in a very large chain.
“Whatever happens, it’s for the best.”
It’s easier to agree with the above saying when we get positive results soon. In the above specific situation, my team and I were able to resolve the issue quickly.
But in some cases, it can take months and years – before we see a resolution. But the resolution does arrive eventually.
And when the resolution arrives, it’s a good exercise to connect the dots backward to those tough times. We’ll then feel grateful for those difficult moments as well.