People and organizations are put to the test when key players get sick. This is no less true when the key player is a computer. Last month my primary work computer contracted a nasty virus that took several days to recover from. I was indeed put to the test, and here’s how I showed up:


    • I did not panic. I’d dealt with computer viruses before, albeit infrequently.


    • I was calm under pressure at first. I fortunately had a backup computer that my occasional Intern uses, so I could access the Internet and email.


    • I was crafty about how to gingerly “back out” of the problem. In the past, a combination of Windows System Restore and manual shutdown was an easy way to avoid further damage. When System Restore was compromised and things got more worrisome, I had to choose among several drastic actions. Instead of picking a “no-brainer”, I chose to try to learn from the experience.


    • I didn’t prioritize well. I could have just called a specialist to work it through, but I opted instead to spend the time to figure things out myself. I was willing to invest time in troubleshooting outdated technology rather than simply replacing it. The learning opportunity was valuable, but the time away from revenue-generating activities was still perhaps too much, and could have cost me a client, a project, or a relationship.


    • I was willing to repeat the same move again and again in hopes of a different outcome.


    • I asked for – and got – a bit of guidance, and got turned on to some new resources.


    • I consulted the web as a last resort. I feared a glut of off-target, dated advice, but I found to my surprise that the sources I consulted gave me good, accurate information quickly.


    • I dismissed the people who adamantly insisted I had to do a clean install as anal-retentive, overwrought Internet crackpots. There were many other people who posted simpler, more targeted fixes to my problems, so I could choose my sources.


    • I worried about keeping everything I had accumulated, and intently researched my backups to find if they still existed.


    • I insisted on being thorough to back up as much as I knew there was.


    • At one critical point, I was ready to pay for a new Windows OS. I ultimately talked myself into downloading an open source OS – eventually.


    • Now that I have stabilized things, I am not interested in doing anything more radical or experimental until I have devised an elegant solution that I only have to do once – thereby justifying the time I would spend waiting for the computer to process installation scripts.


    • I still have subpar performance on the Intern machine, but I want to find out what’s causing the slow performance before I fix it. I am waiting for a bright idea about how to investigate this efficiently.


    • I begrudge the anticipated costs of additional software that will run on the new system.


  • I am settling for low performance, neglecting, putting off the inevitable, and citing my own limited availability, interest, and patience as an acceptable excuse.

You can learn a lot about how you operate when you get a computer virus. For me, some positive personal attributes became evident, and some negative habits were reinforced. But I did stop playing Bejeweled online!