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The Brakes Failed…And We Had No Idea What We Were Doing

December 10, 2014

Do you know how to get the brake pads off?

I think so, Dad.

My son and I stared at the exposed brake assembly of our 2000 GMC Savannah 15 passenger van. The brakes were bad. Of so we assumed. We weren’t really sure. All I know is that my lovely wife told me that she nearly couldn’t stop.

Well son, see what you can do and I’ll work on getting the other wheel jacked up.

Eventually, we got the front of the van jacked up and on jack stands. We got both front tires off, and my son was successful in getting the brake assembly off the rotor. We stared at the brake pads and kind of scratched our heads. Maybe it looked kind of worn. I wasn’t really sure. Now what?

In business, it’s not unusual to start a project that you don’t know how to finish. It happens to me on nearly every project I work on. I know how to get to the end, and I know what I want the end to look like. I rarely know how to make the end look like what I want.

That’s why I work with a team of engineers. They know how to make the end look like what I want. As I’m working on project plans, the engineers are the ones telling me how long particular pieces will take. They are telling me that I need a 50 GB data circuit in the demarc closet so that Sprint can jumper it to the network. . .or something like that.

The main point is that every project is a journey of discovery. No two projects ever go exactly the same, even when they are in the same building. We converted our current building one floor at a time. Floors two and three were vastly different than the challenges experienced with floor one. I get lots of input from various teams.

Last night with the brake job, we were not working completely unsupervised. My neighbor/mechanic came by on his way to another job. He took one look and pronounced his diagnoses.

You need new brake pads. That back one there has worn completely through.

Okay, good. We got to work removing the pads. Well, my 15 year old son got to work. I supervised. With the pads in hand we took a trip down to the parts store. These particular brake pads had a lifetime warranty. I’m not sure how you can provide a lifetime warranty on a product that wears out, but there you have it.

My neighbor stopped by twice more. The final time to inspect the work before we put everything back together. As my son was struggling to fit the brake assembly around the rotor, he said

You should be doing this Dad. I’ve already helped the neighbors change brake pads once. Eventually us kids will be gone and you and Mom will be here by yourselves.

His we’re all going to go off and leave you speech was very touching.

I don’t need to practice doing this. When you kids are gone I’ll be able to afford to pay someone to do it.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. But, it certainly helps if you have a guide who will come by and check to make sure you’re on the right track.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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