A Cold Shower State of Mind?

I arrive late at the hotel, and am too exhausted to shower. However the next day when I prepare to shower I turn on the water and after three minutes discover only lukewarm water, not what one wants to jump into unless it’s for punishment. So I call the front desk, they confirm there are problems with the water and I do my 45 second maintenance shower and let it go.

Next evening I turn on the water and again it’s only lukewarm. I call down to the front desk and am told the water is fine now, so they’ll send up an engineer. A few minutes later someone comes to my room, feels the water (yep I’m right, not exaggerating, it’s very cool) and then turns the handle to the cold side of the faucet and immediately the water is boiling. Ah, he explains, the handle just got turned around.

What’s my point? Perhaps the water was lukewarm the first time when I showered, or perhaps it had already been repaired. Either way I was so conditioned to believe hot water is only available on the left side of the faucet that I was absolutely prepared to take Cold Shower number 2 rather than explore the possibility that there might be an alternative answer to my lack of hot water.

Regrettably we get stuck in this mindset regarding things much more important than hot showers, although at the time it felt like a high priority.


American inventor Buckminster Fuller said we are powerfully imprisoned by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think. And while we may interpret that in a myriad of ways, I read it as a reminder that we all can make the mistake of limiting our possibilities; we see what we either want to see or believe we must see (conditioned to see) and miss what might be in our direct line of vision if we’re not expecting it to be there. That’s how the famous Invisible Gorilla experiment can be explained. How else can we justify the fact that 50% of those who watch this experiment (http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html) never see the gorilla!

All of us can be blinded by what we believe are limitations or impossibilities. A good question might be to ask ourselves, where are we still buying into someone else’s belief system? If the current way isn’t working, where can we test the assumption that we’ve limited our options, or at the very least our vision.

Every day as we go about our jobs of leading by example, we need to pay attention to what we take for granted, that is assuming there is no other way to accomplish the goal or solve the problem. Challenge your team or employees or department to come up with five new ideas to approach the problem. The more we stop thinking like we’ve always thought the quicker we find additional (and often better) ways to create the results we want. Challenge your certainties, and ask others to do so as well. It would have been a better approach to my hot water conundrum, and perhaps saved me a very uncomfortable shower!

 “My fingers are being pried off all I think I know. Certainty is very useful, but it can really close your mind off to the true light.” David O. Russell, American filmmaker


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