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Why Dr. Seuss Wasn’t An IT Guy

April 8, 2016

Have you ever heard of the Zax? There were two of them. Zaxes? Zaxi? Are maybe Zax is like deer or moose, it’s both the singluar and the plural. Anyway, these two Zax ran into each other. One was headed North, the other going South and they refused to move aside for each other. Like two people who keep mirroring each other as they try to pass in the hallway, these Zax simply refused to yield. The reason is that the North-going Zax insists he only goes North. The South-going Zax insists he only goes South. 

It’s 1,430 miles from Salt Lake City, UT to Shreveport, LA. I went there last week and travelled 2,468, over 1,000 miles farther. Why? Because unlike the Zax, I went North to go South. Or rather I went East to go West. Well, actually, I went farther East to come back West. (This is why I don’t write Dr. Seuss stories.) My flight routed through Atlanta, which is in the Eastern Time Zone, before coming back West to Shreveport, in the Cntral Time Zone. 

The point is that you often have to go backward to go forward, in business as well as in travel. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to computers and IT. There was a time when I was an expert on WordPerfect Office, later renamed to Novell GroupWise.) I was one of the very best in the world. I flew all over the United States as a high paid on-site technician. With Office 3.0, if I didn’t know how to do it, no one did. And then, I moved. I went to Microsoft where I had to start all over learning Microsoft Mail. A couple years later it was another change, this time to Microsoft Exchange. 

Since those days, I’ve changed companies and changed vocations. Sometimes it was my choice. Sometimes the choice was forced upon me. But, regardless it was always a step back to move forward. There have been times where I’ve felt like the North-going Zax. I’ve stuck with a position long past when I should have stepped aside. I think, “If I just work harder.” “If I just put in a few more hours per week…per day.” “I can fix this.” When the reality was, I couldn’t fix it. 

The trick is knowing when to step aside, and when to stand your ground. I don’t have great advice on how to know the difference. I know that I’ve often stepped aside when I should have stood my ground. More often, I’ve done the opposite. I’ve stood there like a North-going Zax staring at the South-going Zax insisting that I didn’t have to move. The other guy should move. 

Don’t be afraid to move backward to move forward. 

The Zax

by Dr. Seuss
From The Sneetches and Other Stories 
Copyright 1961 by Theodor S. Geisel and Audrey S. Geisel, renewed 1989.

One day, making tracks 
In the prairie of Prax,
Came a North-Going Zax
And a South-Going Zax.

And it happened that both of them came to a place
Where they bumped. There they stood.
Foot to foot. Face to face.

“Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!”

“Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax.
“I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove.”

Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
“I never,” he said, “take a step to one side.
And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!”

“And I’ll prove to YOU,” yelled the South-Going Zax,
“That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!”

Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

The trick is knowing when to stand and when to move. Don’t be a Zax.

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 grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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