A few years ago I heard Andy Stanley share an illustration about an ugly couch. It was part of a talk describing how we become accustomed to the way things are…so much so that we begin to overlook (or worse, fall in love with) the way that things are. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to help you see around a problem or to see a new way of doing things.
For more than a few years we had been looking for a way to move some of our classrooms closer together. I had basically given up looking for a way to reconfigure the rooms that would meet our needs. At one point we were making a staffing change and I was contemplating moving my office to one of two different rooms. As I talked through this with a friend he asked a simple question: “Why not make that office one of the classrooms?”
Duh. The room was kind of on the large size to be an office anyway and it was right next to an existing classroom – problem solved.
One of my responsibilities at Life Bridge is to over see Camp Agape, a day camp that began 29 years ago. After the first few years I began making changes to the camp and the leadership structure to improve the camp, yet there was still a tension in part of the leadership structure that I struggled to solve – one of the teams was led by a team of two. It made since when I got there and I really hadn’t thought about it.
One day as I was explaining some of the issues that we had the previous summer our HR person asked, “Why do you have two people overseeing K-5?” The reason was that one oversaw K-2 and the other 3-5, but when she asked it helped me to see that we could have a single leader that is fully responsible and subordinates that would help them manage. For the past 3 years it’s been a much better situation for the leadership of the camp – quicker decisions, better oversight, and less drama.
Both of these examples are situations where my comfort overrode my ability to see things from a perspective that would allow me to improve situations that surrounded me. While those examples make me feel a little silly, it’s not always things that have existed for a short time…sometimes we’re blinded by the “way things have always been.”
As long as I can remember I’ve put my clothes in the drawer just like everyone else I know. Then I stumbled across an article talking up the benefits of putting your clothes in the drawers sideways. You can see each item and more things fit. Mind blown.
Simple shifts in our perspective can help solve problems – even problems you don’t know you have. Be sure to keep your eyes open…and, when you’re struggling, ask someone else to take a look so you can have a fresh perspective.