What its like to feel really stupid

Office Punching Bag

A few months ago I attended a boxing “class” and was reminded why I do what I do–help people with complex technological problems. No, it wasn’t because I felt fighting viruses was like going a few rounds with Mike Tyson but rather I joined a class in which I had no skill or experience. I was completely out of my element.

A friend at the time suggested I go with her to class as I work on fitness and health and the idea sounded great. The last time I put on boxing gloves was gym class in the third grade. I remember well because I refused to box. The idea of hitting another human being was repugnant and I got in trouble for it. This friend assured me I’d only be hitting a bag and it’s a great workout. Ok. I’m game.

When I got there I signed a release and was pointed to the gloves and wraps. My friend walked me through what to do and the “instructor” yelled out some commands. The music was blaring loud enough I could barely hear. To the left or me and to the right of me people were doing things. At the beginning I could keep up. It was simple: run, carry a ball, jump, etc. Then he yelled something and everyone dropped to the ground and grunted. Excuse me? I have no idea what you said or what these people were doing. I was the only one standing and everyone was on the ground grunting.

Things only got worse from there. More and more i was losing pace with everyone in the room. The movements got complex and now that everyone was hitting the bags I could hear the instructor less and less. In reality though it wouldn’t have mattered because I didn’t know what he wanted anyways. Silly me, I thought the instructor would, well, instruct. Not just yell out and expect me to understand.

I was annoyed, frustrated and quite a bit embarrassed. Everyone around me knew what they were doing and I didn’t. At the beginning of this class with an instructor, I thought I’d learn something and expand my horizons. The pace was slow and manageable and everything unraveled within just a few minutes. I got to a point where I pretty much just sat on the floor frustrated with lack of direction or guidance.

Then it hit me (pun intended)….this is what a new computer user feels like. The first time I used a computer was almost thirty years ago (boy did that hurt typing that) so it’s hard for me to get in touch with that feeling. Clients see people all around them understanding their computers, smart phone or tablets and gosh darn it some of you didn’t grow up with this stuff. Combine that lack of knowledge with some social stigma and you’ll get a recipe for disaster.

In class, I got up and just tried stuff figuring the worst that could happen is I accidentally hit someone. Instructor told me I was doing things wrong, but didn’t tell me how to do it right. I didn’t care because I figured I needed a bit more humility in my life!

As a team, all our technicians try to recognize that not everyone is an expert on everything. I ask every applicant that works with me what they feel “dumb” about and I’ll remind them our clients frequently are uncomfortable with their lack of technical skills: that’s why they call us. We always treat our clients with respect, compassion and dignity. Not everyone is an expert at everything. I’ll add boxing to my list of things I’m dumb at. This time at least I tried to learn something new but lacked true instruction. I did get a good workout though.

If I, or a member of my team, ever forget that fact, remind me about my “boxing” lessons or simply grunt an inaudible command and hit the ground and we’ll be reminded to explain what we are doing so that you’ll fully be a part of our process and understand what we are doing.

That…or simply put on a pair of boxing gloves and give me an “uppercut” and a “jab”. I won’t understand what that means so don’t worry!

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