Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dichotomy of Skills

Forgive the pretentious post name... but it seems apt.

I've heard it said that doctors aren't any good at treating themselves. Actually, I don't know if I've ever really heard it said, but somewhere along the line that idea got into my head and it stuck. I don't know if it's true of doctors, but it's true of me.

No, I don't mean I'm no good at treating myself - I think that goes without saying. What I mean is, I'm not very capable of applying my professional skills (such as they are) to my personal life.

My job sometimes involves mucking about with computers and resolving problems. Now, at work, I'll approach a problem logically and methodically with a placid temperament. I'll do whatever research needs to be done, come up with possible explanations and solutions, and determine a suitable course of action. If the problem can't be fixed the first time round, I go back and rethink things. Sometimes, the problem can't be resolved at all for some reason or another. Ultimately, I'll have to have a solution or an explanation.

Now, in my personal life, things are quite different. When I have a computer problem, I fall apart. It's hilarious thinking about it in retrospect, but it's anything but funny at the time. Somehow, I take any computer problem at home as a personal attack on me by fate and the Universe itself. It's a conspiracy designed to keep me down. Instead of approaching things methodically, I try things randomly and without thinking them through. And when things can't be resolved easily, I lose my cool in a big way. Yep, I swear at my computer (I'm not the only one, dammit!). Fortunately, I haven't smashed it yet, but I suspect that one day I will! I should really record myself so that I can look back and laugh about it, but after what happened to the Star Wars kid, it's too big a risk.

So the question is, why the hell do I suck at doing at home what I'm fairly good at doing at work? I've got a few theories:

  • Time commitment - at work, I'm being paid to do whatever it is I have to do, and the time available is meant to be spent doing it. There is no opportunity cost. At home, when I have to resolve something, it's eating away from my time, which I'd much rather spend doing something else.

  • No personal impact - if some computer's screwed up at work, it's really someone else's problem that I'm resolving. The problem itself doesn't really affect me, except in the sense that I have to attempt to resolve it. At home, the problem kicks me in the shin, punches me in the gut, and head-butts me into submission.

  • Shared responsibility - at work, I may be trying to fix something, but I won't be the only one involved. Invariably, there will be other people hovering around who can provide support, and the ultimate responsibility will fall on the whole team. At home, it's just me, myself, and my pet cockroaches (who aren't that big on helping, and will most certainly flee if and when the shit hits the fan).

  • The problem needs to be resolved - I can't just write off my personal computer problem in some report giving explanations and possible fixes and further things to look into - I HAVE to get the damn thing back, because I need it!

I'm left wondering, am I the only one? Or are there plenty of competent accountants who can't manage their own wallets, plenty of decent managers who can't manage their own day to day affairs, plenty of lawyers who... I can't think of something to say about lawyers actually.

I know from personal experience that there are at least a few people out there who suffer from the same problem. Perhaps there are many. Whatever the case me be, I can say one thing for sure. It sucks!


sanity index said...

That's when you should call other computer people. :)

Plenty of lawyers who can't handle their own cases, perhaps? Though I've heard that lawyers are advised to hire other lawyers when their own shit hit the fan. :>

Cockroaches definitely make me flee. The only thing they help with is making lives a living hell!

Antimatter said...

Oh I do get help eventually. Only after I've thrown a fit and cried like a baby! :D

Underneath their crusty exterior, cockroaches are people too!