I love to solve problems. Oddly enough, I hate problems.
In 2007 at Wells Fargo, I took over a development team that was responsible for maintaining a very large, very complex legacy system. When I first started looking at the 1,200,000 lines of confusing spaghetti code, reading the massive tomes of system documentation and talking to developers that only knew small subsections of the system, I was…well, quite frankly, sick to my stomach. I was overwhelmed and instinctively I felt the desire to avoid this mess, run far away and hide. Fortunately, however, I had learned early on during my consulting days at Tallan the steps to get past this:
- Ignore my nausea
- Get a general high level picture from different views without diving into the mess
- Focus on a small piece that I can quickly and easily understand
- Start chipping away piece by piece
- If necessary, puke and rally
Really, it is all about persistence. You decide you are going to solve a problem or achieve a goal and you just do it (and keep doing it until you get there). I have found that persistence is much more effective in the long run than cleverness. In fact, cleverness without persistence can often make it harder to solve really big problems. The reason is that no matter how clever you are, it is not possible to solve the really big problems in a short amount of time. So, while you may be able to get past one hurdle or figure out a hack to fix one issue, you won’t have the strength to last to the end of the marathon.