Adam, Fear, and Problem-Solving

When the training client told me that I’d have to bring my own computer to show the Powerpoint, I said “of course.” But I didn’t want to bring my laptop. It’s heavy and it’s the only computer I have. Yes, it’s backed up, but still, dragging it around wasn’t appealing to me.

Luckily, I have an iPad with Keynote on it. (Apple’s version of Powerpoint). But how to get the file from the computer to the iPad, I asked at the store. “It’s simple on iTunes,” the genius-bar employee said, and gave me some steps. I wrote them down. Now, I hate to admit it, but I’m not a big music fan, so I don’t know iTunes very well. My playlists are all books. Yes, I have music on my iPhone, but I really don’t use iTunes.

Blocked as surely as if a boulder falls in front of me.

Blocked as surely as if a boulder falls in front of me.

So I struggled with the instructions, which didn’t work. As any good Inner Critic knows, this is the clarion call to show up and make sure the stuck person knows that she is stupid, probably terminally so, and the client will laugh at her for not knowing simple procedures. Time to make a fast appointment for a one-on-one lesson. None available till I come back.

Fear shows up as anger first. Stupid store and their 10-day wait to get a simple lesson. Then, anger muddles thinking. I came up with the idea of using Dropbox, but I still couldn’t get the presentation itself moved to Keynote.

Notice what’s happening here? Fear blocks all problem-solving ability. I wasn’t thinking through anything. I was stuck in a place in which I would be humiliated for being slow, old, dumb, and not prepared in front of the client. That shame loop circled through my brain while I added more dramatic color and a sound track. [Cue “Chain of Fools.”] No problem-solving whatsoever. Finally, I made another genius bar appointment, sure the Apple employees would mock me, too.

Not so. Adam came up, and I explained the problem with iTunes. Adam looked at me and smiled. “You can send it from one machine to another via email, then just open it in Keynote.” Of course. It couldn’t have been simpler. But while I was filled with fear and imagining a catastrophic scenario, my brain was too busy adding details, color and sound to the catastrophe to see the simple answer.

iphone_5s_6_months_later_heroAnd then, Adam did something amazing. He showed me how to use my iPhone as the remote to control the Keynote presentation. Let me practice it to make sure I got the steps in the right order. And within 10 minutes I wasn’t an idiot, I was a tech-savvy professional, with an iPad and a remote, ready to go.

In those 10 minutes, I didn’t change a bit. I weighed the same, I had the same hair and eye color, wore the same clothing. The only thing that changed was fear. It was gone. Adam had solved the problem I could not because I was concentrating on the fear. Anger is the answer to fear, and anger blocks both logic and creativity.

I’ll probably make the mistake again. It’s a big problem and so not resolved by one experience. Or six, ten or a hundred. It’s a lesson I will repeat until I understand it, myself and the power of problem solving with a clear, creative mind and heart.

-Quinn McDonald wishes a Happy Passover to all who tell the story of the Exodus tonight. And wishes strength and peace to all who live in fear and slavery of any kind, mental or physical, or their own doing or other’s.