What if you bought a condo and they didn’t give you the keys?

When you buy a condo, you are given the keys and you pay your monthly fees to management. What if, you bought your condo and they didn’t give you the keys? What if you had to call someone each time you wanted to enter the condo you owned? What if management thought you were too stupid to be trusted with the keys? Under what circumstances would that be OK?

When you buy a Microsoft tenant, you are given the administrator password and you pay your monthly fees to management. What if you bought your tenant and they didn’t give you the administrator password? What if you had to call someone each time you wanted to log onto the tenant you owned? What if management thought you were too stupid to be trusted with the administrator password? Under what circumstances would that be OK?

This is an age old ethical question for administrators in our industry. What is the mind set of people that take this stance? How do they excuse themselves from the ethical question?

Could be it an addiction to heroism?

I was listening to Annie Duke talk about the value of quitting and how some climbers died because they didn’t quit, they didn’t turn around at the turn around point, when they should have. And they knew that they should have. Not stopping what they were doing, going up, and start doing something new, going down, killed them.

Yes, it’s that Annie Duke. The elite poker playing, cognitive scientist, author and speaker. She’s won in life by quitting early and often.

Annie talks about how we like to be the hero. Being a hero is valued in our society but being a quitter isn’t. Quitting takes various forms, ultimately resulting in a reluctance to change. What if I stop doing this and I lose? Well, you know what? Change isn’t a once off. You can make another informed decision to change. And when you play the odds to secure yourself a better future, you will win. It’s OK to quit something that is no longer working for you or that is no longer going to work for you going forward.

And yet we have a significant population in our industry of people that are frozen in time. They won’t change. They won’t quit doing something that no one should value anymore. They continue to monitor for full hard drives. Why? Because they continue to allow customers to keep valuable data on local hard drives. Why?

The conflict here is that these same people know that hard drives are the second most likely component of a computer to fail. The first most likely is the power supply and if either one happens that person loses access to the data or loses the data altogether. And its’ going to be their fault for allowing data to be there in the first place. The disaster didn’t have to happen. All they had to do was change. How do they excuse themselves from this ethical question?

I know what it feels like to be a hero

Flying all around the Country, dropping in to fix what had be screwed up by the local engineer, fixing the client relationship and then getting back in the plane to go do it again in another State was a great learning experience and one that nearly killed me. I was the hero every day. Then I quit.

I started my own business while I was incredibly burned out from my corporate job. These were the days when there were no alternatives. I had to get out of bed every morning and go visit my clients and fix what was broken. I played the Mighty Mouse theme song in my head to get me out the door. “Here I come to save the DAY!” I was the hero again. But I didn’t like it and I wasn’t addicted to it. I was always looking for a better way. Some way where my clients were not expecting failure and I wasn’t expecting to have to swoop in and save them. Although the theme song got me out the door, I didn’t want to be the Mighty Mouse. I wanted them to be the hero of their business, not me.

If the failure is expected, is the savior really heroic?

Wouldn’t everyone be happier if they stopped expecting failure? It’s OK to quit. Quit doing things that have better solutions even though it’ll mean fewer opportunities for you to be the hero. Being addicted to heroism is not a good thing. It’s an addiction. In the case of a service provider, it’s almost like Munchausen syndrome. The customer is kept in a less than optimal state, less competitive and modern, less agile, less flexible, less independent, less empowered, so we can be the hero?

Perpetuating the system that makes you the hero, at someone else’s expense isn’t heroic.

You might have to chase some technologies (Response Point, Lync, Skype, Teams…anyone on this path with me?) You might have to change your mind, adapt, modify, explain to your clients why THIS was the best solution yesterday but now THIS is the best solution today. But it’s OK to do that. You can quit a bad solution, for a good one, for a better one, for an even better one. It can be done in an educated, likely to win this bet way and your clients will understand and be on your side. They will feel your confidence in the bet and they will be willing to change with you.

It’s OK to quit

Here’s what Annie can teach us. It’s OK to not be the hero. It’s just as important to be the quitter. That’s how we move forward. That’s how we maintain our happiness. That’s how we learn and grow. It’s not only OK to quit. It’s imperative for our mental heath and by extension, for those of us in the MSP industry, for our clients business health, that we continuously quit. This industry moves too fast. Break that addiction to heroism and become a quitter. That’s the heroic thing to do.

And give them the keys to their condo, already.

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