My wife Lauren and I were recently on our boat where we spend many weekends on the water with friends. This particular weekend was our 22nd wedding anniversary and like all special occasions the goal was to relax and celebrate without the stress of work or life. We spend a lot of time on our boat as it is a home away from home. Part of what makes our boat feel like a second home is that we have added many special touches, including a rug that a dear friend of ours gave to us. Sure, it might just be a rug, but it holds a lot of meaning to my wife. After an afternoon out celebrating, we returned to the boat and I noticed the rug was missing. Lauren immediately had a look of disappointment but said something to minimize the impact because it was our wedding anniversary. I immediately went into overdrive and snapped into action in hopes of recovering the missing rug. I spent 15 minutes fishing in the area with a pole to see if the rug sank to the bottom of the river. I was convinced that the only plausible explanation was that the rug had blown off the boat and that it sunk into the silty river bottom. After 15 minutes, and no rug, I had given up that we would ever find it.
I spent the next 24 hours scouring the internet looking for a replacement. After realizing that there was no hope of finding a similar rug, I went for a quick run, where I do most of my problem solving. On my run I noticed that a lot of large boats were traveling down the river going south for the season. Which lead me to a new perspective. After returning from my run, I mentioned to Lauren that we should walk the docks and check out the big boats, perhaps the rug was heading south too. As we walked the next dock over, Lauren was a few feet in front of me and she passed a very familiar rug that was laying on the dock to dry out. The rug was not near any other boats and it faded into the background, so it didn’t catch her eye. I suddenly realized that it was indeed our rug. A guy nearby informed us that it was floating by and another man grabbed it out of the river and set it to dry on the dock hoping someone would claim it.
Stepping back from assumptions
What does this story of a rogue rug that went for a quick dip at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois River have to do with business and marketing? It reminded me that it is important to be open to possibility. Sometimes you have to remember that you don’t have all the facts and can get too focused on a conclusion before even knowing the exposition of the story. In this case, I had no idea where the rug had blown away to, or if it had even blown away. But I started making assumptions and the assumptions were wrong. This is a common issue business owners and managers face. We often don’t have all the details needed to make conclusions when it comes to running a business. It is important to not have a quick response to a problem, when many other factors are in play. Growing a business takes time and being open to new perspectives. In this case, I never thought a rug could float. But this one did. And it reminded me of the things that I assume before I have even really started to explore the endless possibilities with just a simple step back and fresh perspective.
What things in your life are you jumping to conclusions on? Are there aspects of your business that you need to tackle with a fresh mind? When you don’t understand the facts in front of you, it is necessary to take a look from a new vantage point. The old paradigm for leaders was that you needed to have all of the answers. The reality is, that in today’s global market, the rate of change means that you can’t come close to having all of the answers. You just have to be good at taking a second look, asking for help from others, and turning problems on their head so that you seek out new avenues of opportunity. Or in this case the neighboring dock. You never know, you might surprise yourself with a new perspective.