Because our machines log out on power down and reset the user folders, even those applications with autosave functions were a lost cause. All 80 of us had nothing to do but start over...
J. McKay / Today I was working one of my side responsibilities at the language program where I am a teacher and was monitoring a computer lab. There are 4 instructional areas in this lab with a capacity of nearly 80 students. This afternoon there were actually 5 classes in the lab and we were near maximum capacity. The instructional hour was nearing completion and had been relatively without incident. With no other demands, my co-worker and I were both at separate computers finishing up projects we had started.
The lab has no windows to the outside (who needs windows when a widget can tell you what the weather is like outside, right?) so we were very surprised when the industrial lighting above and the soft glow of 80 iMacs flickered and then cut completely with the loud beep of our server’s surge protectors kicking in giving us further indication that we were having a wind induced power outage.
In literally, a blink of an eye the overhead lights came back on as students, teachers and us lab attendants looked around in surprise. Students and teachers looked at us first for an explanation of the outage, which our dumbfounded expressions quickly gave. The next question was more pressing, ‘What about our work?’. Because our machines log out on power down and reset the user folders, even those applications with autosave functions were a lost cause. All 80 of us had nothing to do but start over.
In addition to the comfort of membership in communal loss, luckily no one had any more than the 40 minutes they’d been working invested in what was lost. The crowd quickly realized that there was nothing more to do than to power the machines back on and start over.
After tending to the ‘fires’ that such an event lights as I went back to my own workstation, I did an emotional assessment. I too had lost work, and while not of any huge consequence, it did need to be done and done right away. My diagnosis was surprising, little anger or frustration was felt at this setback; contrastingly, I felt relief and even anticipation at a fresh start.
I think we have all had instances in our past that are much like today’s power outage—brief and retrospectively benign challenges to restart.
Rebuilding is a matter of significance. Even though they may be unanticipated, these moments provide us with the chance to evaluate the value of what we lost and redirect our efforts if necessary.
Starting over also gives you a chance to see what you are gaining from a particular process beyond its end product. Several ‘victims’ in the lab reported how much faster they were as they re-wrote, re-read, re-worked or re-listened. The reset challenged them to look for their own improvement as marked by increased, effectiveness efficiency or creativity.
While there are certainly many days where a forced restart would be as welcome as a root canal, today wasn’t one of those days. Have you had in recent or significant personal events a similar a forced restart story? Was your experience different in terms of your disappointment? Do you agree that a fresh start even when it’s proceeded by moderate loss can make you optimistic? Let me know what you think below.