When Associates Vanish

silhouettes_spheresThree weeks ago, I was working closely with someone who lives 16 time zones away. We had great plans for the week as we worked together on projects and promotions. On Tuesday, we were chatting about some strategy, and he had to leave his office for a while. Later that evening, I checked and there were no messages from him. I thought that was odd, but I do know that other people can get demand our attention.

As time passed, I knew something had gone terribly wrong. I waited patiently for a report from my valuable associate and continued to work on my projects. At one point, his brother-in-law provided an update and my greatest fears were confirmed.

What did my friend need?
Time and patience.
What do you do when an associate vanishes?

Life Interrupts

Events happen in all of our lives. Sometimes we do not have time to send out warning messages because other people require all of our energies. When that other person vanishes, I have to ask if I have allowed myself to become dependent on another person to make progress in my business. That can never be allowed to happen because the responsibility for my progress is entirely my own. I can ask questions of someone else, but I cannot depend on another person to make progress each day.

Interruptions to the normal routine can last for many weeks. As a business owner, this is a stark reminder of the importance of having some backup plans and reliable people to help you. How would I handle an interruption that prevented me from sending out promotional emails and staying abreast of my customers’ needs?

Technology Fails

In our global marketplace, we must admit that every communication depends on technology. Failure on one end can cause people to panic when the other person does not respond. As my situation unfolded, the Internet reliability on the other end was another culprit. Not only had life interrupted my associate’s business, but the Internet was unavailable. What were we going to do to proceed? I knew that the only way to continue to support our efforts was to do everything on my end that we had discussed. I asked a couple of other people some important questions and continued down the path. Training videos have been invaluable during this time because the answers to my questions were buried inside the videos.

Weather Destroys

This is the one category that has not affected my business in recent months. Massive storms can wipe out entire areas where the communication lines are brought down. In those times, the person on the other end will seem to disappear. We have to trust that once everything has been restored our associates will return. Working together requires us to stay abreast of national events that happen around the globe. We can reach out in various ways to offer assistance, but most times, we have to wait.

Assume the Best of Others

I did receive a message from my missing associate this morning. Tomorrow will be three weeks since we worked together last. I have known throughout this time that he was reliable. He is one of those people who keeps his word and works hard helping other people. I have never doubted that he would be back. Throughout this extended time, I have been able to keep working and make some great progress on our projects. The moral of the story is to find great people and then to work has hard as they do whenever life interrupts!

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” 
~ Stephen Covey


  • WOW! Thanks for sharing. It certainly can be scary when someond “vanishes”! It will be interesting what measures you both feel you need to put in place in case this happens again.


  • Hi Mialei

    That must have been very worrying, and glad it all resolved in the end.

    I know when I had a planned absence I had a draft email ready prepared for all the people who were relying on me so that I could update them all at the press of the button, but of course that was known in advance.

    A funny thing happened when I had to do the “emergency dash” as my daughter-in-law went into labor (I was required to look after her first child)… I missed the first phone call as I was asleep, but when I called “her” back I managed to get my chief associate on another project. He was very understanding and just went back to bed!

    Yes – well worth considering your back-up plans, especially as a small business with limited resources.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

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