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"Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."

If you're not familiar with the reference, it comes from the movie Madagascar and the subsequent sequel and TV series (The Penguins of Madagascar). It's said by the leader of the penguins, such as in this YouTube clip. Basically, he says it when the penguins know something the others around them don't know, especially if that is something is not good. The phrase came to mind after reading this post from Tim Ford (@sqlagentman):

Just How Much Is Too Much?

I'll sum up the blog post here, but it's one that really should be read in its entirety. Basically, Tim was relying on a vendor to deliver a fix and the vendor failed. Multiple times. And the vendor failed because of very easily avoidable issues. So now Tim's organization is going to have to scramble through an unplanned application upgrade, all because the vendor couldn't do what we'd consider some pretty straight forward steps. Now that I've given the brief synopsis, go ahead and go read Tim's post.

In a situation like this there isn't a whole lot we can do. We're still dependent on the vendor to deliver something that works. Getting angry and ranting and raving and losing our cool may make us feel better for the short term, but the problem remains. And the person on the phone... it may not be his or her fault. So going off probably won't get us anywhere. So what can we do? One of the things I've picked up is losing my cool doesn't help me. Usually afterwards I just feel worse. So that brings me back to, "Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."

The best attitude is to just smile at the situation and accept that it's what we have before us. That's not to say we sit pat and do nothing. But rather, we control ourselves, assess the situation, and look for what positive steps we can make going forward. Kind of like the Chiarello - Talde confrontation from Top Chef Masters. We can choose our response. Chiarello remarked during the show that he wanted to go off, but he didn't. Watching the episode, I could see him working to control his response to Talde's screaming. Or we can be like Talde, losing our heads. The choice is ours. But we'll typically get more accomplished with cooler heads. Hence the philosophy of "Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave." It's something I know I need to do a better job with, so I'll probably add it to my goals tracking and record when I get into a situation when I feel my temperature rising and how I reacted. Then after some time I'll take a look and compare the times I reacted well to the time I didn't. Hopefully over time I'll see that I've chosen the right approach, even when I was boiling. That's the goal.



K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by Timothy Ford on 13 August 2009

Thanks for the constructive ideas Brian.  About 1/2 way through this mess I finally realized that I could rant and pout, but that would only serve to make me look bad and would not solve anything. Nope, it would be time to suck it up, do what the vendor was asking, chargeback the user's dept for the additional SAN space and, well, smile and wave.

Posted by Thomas LaRock on 13 August 2009

very true, sometimes you have to pick the right battles, and sometimes you have to smile and wave.

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 13 August 2009

Great post Brian.  I have to admit to allowing myself to get all worked up at a vendor's reckless mistakes, knowing all along that my frustration would do nothing but raise my own blood pressure.  Thanks for the reminder to stay grounded.

Posted by Merrill Aldrich on 13 August 2009

So true, Brian. So true. I just spent the morning smiling and waving...

Posted by K. Brian Kelley on 13 August 2009

Tim (both of ya),

 I'm often there myself. In the past I would get worked up, especially when I saw something going down the wrong path. I've been working on trying to give advice, then leting the decision makers make the decision, stepping out of the way. If they make the wrong decision, I'll have given them the fact they needed to make the right one. There's not a whole lot more I can do about it. Getting angry or upset is not the right answer, because it doesn't do any good. Either they'll learn to trust me or I'll get fed up and move on. But getting angry, I don't need the additional stress. Life provides plenty as it is. So I'm working on it, as I described here.

Posted by Steve Jones on 14 August 2009

Very nice reminder. I learned this lesson as well, and now I document things, offer suggestions, and show someone (or my boss) where they are failing and why it's correctable.

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