Early in my career, I was in charge of managing twenty-plus part-time computer engineers. We had a good group, but one of them needed to be fired. I don’t remember why, but I do remember that he needed to go. This was my first time taking disciplinary action on an employee. The HR department was located in a different state and no matter how much I talked with them, they couldn’t understand the urgency we had to fire this individual. They outlined the process which I was required to follow but I grew impatient. The process was taking too long and that it was too cumbersome. This employee needed to go and – for reasons I don’t remember – needed to go quickly.
So I took some shortcuts to speed up the processes. It was all legal, just not according to the wishes of the HR manager, my main contact – and it was done in a way that she didn’t see the shortcuts. Until she did.
Suddenly, not only did I have an upset HR manager, but the process was slowed down again. On top of it, I thought I was going to get into trouble. Not so much that I would be fired, but it wasn’t looking good.
A little freaked out and frazzled, I ran into my boss’s office and frantically relayed the story.
“Slow down Kevin,” he said. “Hold on a second. Let me ask you a couple questions.”
“Whatever you did, will it make it so the RedSox won’t win the world series?”
Totally confused, I hesitantly replied, “No.”
“Will it make it so my girls won’t be able to go to college?”
“Of course not.”
“Then everything will be just fine. It isn’t that big of a deal. We’ll figure out how to take care of it.”
With two quick questions, my view of the world changed. Whereas I thought my life was in jeopardy one second, the next brought a clarity of thought – an assurance that he was right, everything would be just fine. It was just another challenge in life I would face, but there wasn’t a need to be bent out of shape.
This was the moment my fascination with questions – and the impact they can have – began.