Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Fixer

This week, in my Management class, one of the discussion topics was analyzing a personal flaw and trying to figure out the root cause. Since I have many flaws to choose from, it was a little hard to pick one. Eventually I settled on something and it turns out it’s a little bigger than I thought.

You see, I’m a “Fixer”. No, I don’t pay off boxers to throw fights (though I am currently unemployed, so I’m open to the possibility). I like to fix things. Not just mechanical and electronic things, but relationships and ideas. I can’t stand the idea of something not working to its potential, and I want to analyze and figure out a way to make it better.

This “flaw” stems from my insatiable curiosity to figure out how things work. When I was a wee lad, I used to take apart my Transformers, screw by screw, and put them back together again just to see how they went from car to robot and back. Occasionally I’d have an extra screw or two, but they always functioned more or less the same as when I took them apart. Eventually I became an electronics (and later computer/networking) technician in the Air Force and put my fixer personality to good use.

If you look in my garage, you’ll find many old broken electronics and gadgets that I can’t bear to throw away because I want to try and fix them one day. My favorite things are the ones out of warranty, so if it’s already broken, there’s nothing to lose trying to fix it. I’m sure my kids were disappointed when broken iPhone screens resulted in me repairing the screen on their old phones and not receiving a shiny new one instead.

Almost done
Some of it is part of my cheap nature. I’d rather fix something myself than pay someone more to do it elsewhere. Just this past month I repaired an oil leak, replaced two sets of headlights, replaced a leaking valve cover, installed a new radiator assembly and A/C core, and replaced a hood on our cars.

Some of my fixer mentality makes it difficult for me to sugar coat things. When I reviewed screenplays, I found it difficult to point out the good things because I was focused on the flaws. The fixer in me saw that something wasn’t right and I wanted to fix it. When my kids have a performance or game, I tell them great job, but I also tell them the things that need improvement. I don’t do it to be mean, I just want to fix it. My favorite phrase is "Yeah, but...".

I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed the transition to management. I now had the ability to fix people and policies. That is certainly my favorite part about management. I want to see things improve. There are very few things that are completely hopeless. You just have to keep adjusting things until they fit.

I probably stayed in my first marriage longer than I should have because I kept trying to fix it. Even if I couldn’t fix the marriage, I wound up fixing myself in the process. It’s frustrating seeing someone unhappy, especially if I’m involved. I feel it’s my job to find the solution to their problem and fix it. Even if that means fixing myself.

This car (and company) survived the impossible.
There are countless people that give up too early on things and call it quits before all possibilities are exhausted. I just finished a biography on Elon Musk (Space X, Tesla, Solar City). Reading through it was like an alternate reality. With all the problems he faced, there was no logical way that not only Space X could be successful, but Tesla Motors as well. Yet the reality is today they both are. And that would not be possible if Musk didn’t insist on fixing something he knew was fixable.

I guess I found a fix to my “flaw”. I’m a Fixer. I make things happen.

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