I made sure I had all the right equipment necessary to get into work. After four days off, the biggest challenge for many coworkers today will be ensuring they can find their company issued badge. One would be surprised where ID badges meet their untimely end. For whatever reason, some get shoved into the Christmas tree and recycled with it. Some badges get chipped when used as an ice scraper on winter days. One employee brought their badge to security. “Wow. Smells like urine.” After convincing security that the employee was unclear how the smell originated, she was issued a new ID. Later I overheard her confession, “Yeah. My cat dragged it [the badge] into the litter box and p***ed on it.” Tragedies like this never occurred to my badge.

In the three years on the job, I have left my badge at home on two occasions. Upon getting to work, I have to return home, determine where in the hell I left it, reclaim it, and drive back. Sure, I could have requested and been issued a temporary ‘day pass,’ find my ID post-shift and return the next day. But that’s not my style. To me, a ‘day pass’ [and its flaming neon orange] screams, ‘Stand Clear! ‘Stupid’is attached to me.’ Nowadays, mine is always in my bag.

Hitting security this morning, I pulled my badge, cleared the automated temperature sensors, and retrieved my bag post scanner. As I grabbed my bag, a coworker softly said, ‘Ready for ‘The Repeat?’” ‘The Repeat’ is not a viral YouTube video or television show, it means ‘Are you ready for a repeat of last year?’ Every year is a repeat of our ability to go out there every day and trudge through endless hours of interviews, lunches, dinners. All the while, we’re repeatedly told not to appear tired, be sharp. 

An hour after starting, we received a message that ‘Slack’ crashed. Slack posted, ‘Customers may have trouble loading channels or connecting to Slack at this time. Our team is investigating and we’ll follow up with more information as soon as we have it. We apologize for any disruption caused.’ We don’t have ‘Slack.’ Don’t use it. We could care less about impact. What we were interested in was how ‘Slack’ dealt with the problem, how they responded, and the steps they chose to mitigate. For ‘Slack’ personnel, it was ‘The Repeat.’ They came to work and the world died. Been there, done it. Humility bites.

“Eh,” a coworker huffed. “They’ll survive.” What my coworker was hinting is that even if you are knocked off your feet for a period of time, you will eventually get your equilibrium. Yeah, downtime is embarrassing, especially as Slack is in the midst of selling itself for a mere $27.7 billion. For a service designed to help folks work, falling apart precisely when the users you serve are trying to gear back up for a working year is awful. It sucks. If one purports themselves as the best, well, theoretically, you should be ‘best.’ Just like last year (and the years prior), you sometimes have to figure things out as they happen. The question then becomes, what’s more important, knowing things or being able to figure things out? And what types of employees do we hire who can do that?

All repeats have ups and downs. During any repeat year, one may want to throw in the towel. Then, as we progress, there will be moments where one step forward is negated by two steps back. Maybe you’ll get knocked down. But the battle is rarely won in fanfare. Instead, it is often won in the trenches. It’s won when a spouse leaves, but you keep getting up and going to work. It’s won when a cancer patient, regardless of how ill, vows to move forward. It’s won when when an unemployed worker pulls out a newspaper, circle’s a help wanted ad and heads out the door, resume in hand. It’s won when a neighbor leaves a family in need groceries, rent money, or a vow to assist. 

Most forms of spirituality today states, life is a cycle (a saṃsāra or repeat). Every year my ol’ man would say, “Get used to disappointment. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to wear it. And if you try to avoid it, it will come and find you.” A hearty laugh and slap on the back, he would marvel at his wisdom and return to seeing the Chicago Bears lose. To us in the technology sector, whether large or small, each year seems to repeat. Cycles of ups and downs occur each month. 

Every year Daniel repeats the same thing. He gets drunk. This past New Year’, he realized he was in no shape to drive, so he left his car parked and started walking home. Finally, a police office stopped him.  ‘What are you doing out here at four o’clock in the morning?’ asked the officer. ‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ Daniel slurred. ‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year’s Eve?’ ‘My wife,’ Daniel noted. 

It’s clear Daniel repeats a lot of things. But it’s not about the repeat. It’s about adapting. It is about persevering.