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Staying Cool Under Pressure #216511
12/27/15 10:51 AM
12/27/15 10:51 AM
Potseal  Offline OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Posts: 264
One early winter morning not long ago I was involved in a generator test at a health care facility when suddenly things went bad. Two of the three generators failed to synch and pick-up load which resulted in several feeder breakers to critical areas to trip. My co-worker who had been doing these tests for years and who had trained me suddenly looked like a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest as he dashed about in front of the control panel. With the generators running I couldn't hear a word he was yelling and could only observe. Then he ran over to the main electrical vault across the hall to start "pumping" and throwing breakers back "on". I followed and helped with resetting some breakers. In the end, no harm was done and we got everything up and running properly.

Ultimately several lessons were learnt that day and it became obvious that a better action plan was needed before the next test. All that aside, what really struck me the most was that I needed to step up my game. During that failed test I got caught up in my co-worker's reaction which bothered me. Years ago when I was involved in sports I had trained in various ways to help myself perform under pressure. The biggest obstacle back then was finding ways to stay calm when things suddenly go wrong. Years later remnants of those skills served me well in other aspects of my life. Now I feel like I need to revisit some of those strategies and start applying them to my work with the same degree of seriousness that I had back in my sporting days. Up until recently the worst I had to deal with was listening to people lose their cool when a construction/renovation job wasn't running according to plan. Dealing with that chaos was never a problem. I can't guarantee what will happen in the future but if I can avoid finding myself hopping about like a madman when things go south at work then so much the better.

A malfunction at the junction
Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216512
12/27/15 12:14 PM
12/27/15 12:14 PM
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
I really like the line from the film "The Right Stuff:" Maintain an even strain.

Folks always downplay the need for a quiet working area, questioning your manhood and commitment if you suggest it's too noisy. Yet, it is the noise that makes it difficult to communicate - and that only results in confusion and uncertainty.

Otherwise, a clear conscience is a great help to keeping calm. When you know, deep in your heart, that you're doing your best .... well, you can't do better- and can keep on. Let the chips fall where they may.

What you don't need is some STUPID-visor sort jumping around demanding explanations, asserting fault, and throwing out distractions. As much as I disapprove of workplace violence.... such sorts simply need to GO AWAY. Real management needs to recognize the damage these trolls do- and get them out of the workplace. Period. Simply shouting and posturing doesn't solve anything.

Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216514
12/27/15 02:04 PM
12/27/15 02:04 PM
gfretwell  Online Content

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,365
A better movie line is from Apollo 13

"Work the problem".

Greg Fretwell
Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216521
12/28/15 01:18 AM
12/28/15 01:18 AM
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,260
SI,New Zealand
It's all in how YOU approach the entire situation.
No-one likes to see people "lose it" during a stressful time at work and often this bleeds over into others in the same area, just look at what happens when a fire alarm goes off in a place like a mall or whatever.

I've worked in a LOT of really stressful situations in my working life, both as an Electrician and as a Fire-fighter, the people that are the best are those that know how to shake that pressure off, not lose the plot and start to panic.

Because, once you start to panic, to a degree you lose all capability of logical thought, then stupid decisions start getting made, things get worse and it all starts to turn to custard.

My approach has always been this:

  • Sit back, take a couple of deep breaths, compose yourself as is far as possible, this is important.
  • Clear the area of anyone that does not need to be there, this will only cloud your thought process and make matters worse than what they already are.
  • Something is obviously wrong here, work out how this has occurred, what has caused the problem and how it can be possibly fixed, think of ALL options available to you, if necessary write this down on a pad to work out your thought processes.
  • Be prepared to bring like-minded folks in to run your thoughts past and assist with thinking the problem through.
  • Isolate the problem to one single area/thing, confirm that this is the problem, solve it.
  • After things are back to normal, sit down and discuss this with the person you may have used to sort the problem out or go back through your own thought processes to work out how this could be done better in the future.

This is by no means a plan, but it works for me.
Seeing people lose it on site during a breakdown/fire is one of the things I really hate about being in these kinds of roles.

Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216554
12/28/15 07:22 PM
12/28/15 07:22 PM
ghost307  Offline
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 978
Chicago Illinois USA
I heard another great quote from the new series Secret Space Escapes.

There is no situation that is so bad...that you can't make it worse.

Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216564
12/29/15 04:18 AM
12/29/15 04:18 AM
JoeTestingEngr  Offline
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 806
Chicago, Il.
Well, I remember jump #37 in July '86, when I was falling through about 500' AGL, with no main or reserve over my head. I had to do a few things wrong to be in that situation, and a few things right to be able to type about it now. In '91, I heard a first radio call from left base, while I was on a left downwind, and had to turn outbound to avoid a mid-air. Those were actual emergencies that could've had very bad outcomes. Everything else is gravy. My last real excitement was a call from our AC SWGR room at O`Hare on Oct 1st, when the whole station was dark. Nothing like working the problem over the phone with guys who only have their cellphones for light.

Re: Staying Cool Under Pressure [Re: Potseal] #216565
12/29/15 04:47 AM
12/29/15 04:47 AM
gfretwell  Online Content

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,365
My life has been pretty boring since I retired from IBM but we had some exciting situations with down systems back in the day. The strange thing is a multi million dollar mainframe going down was not as stressful as a loss of the controller and the backup at a grocery store on Saturday morning.
Mainframe customers usually have backup plans, perhaps a backup site and at least an understanding of what "down" means. Store controllers usually have enough redundancy that they never lose the whole deal but when it happens they go nuts.
You end up having store managers playing "let's make a deal" in the checkout line pricing groceries by the cart full and everyone else is chewing on your butt.
That is when you just have to block it all out and work the problem.
I used to have a buddy who had the theory that you just hand those people who want to help, something dirty to hold. "Here hold this"
After a while they set it down and go wash their hands. They usually don't come back.

Greg Fretwell


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