“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
Many times I have had problems with relationships within different customers, for a variety of reasons, but always tried to solve the issues by using the same approach.
What I have learned is that one size does indeed not fit all. and not only do we need to change our approach with people, depending on their view and characteristics, but sometimes we need to try something else entirely like a new approach, a different argument or even talk with a different person. The following story explains how I realized that change was needed.
Back in the late 90’s I was working for Coca-Cola in Vienna. It is a beautiful city full of rich and elegant architecture, history, coffee shops and various places of interest. It also has a wonderful public transportation system, the core of which is the trams that crisscross the city, linking you with bus services and the subway.
If you have been fortunate to travel there, you will have observed that pretty much anything that moves has the right of way versus cars. Trams, buses, bicycles and pedestrians all trump cars for right of way, and the trams do not even attempt to stop if you are in the way.
Driving is made even more difficult due to the fact that trams often disappear down tunnels, and if you are not observant, you too can disappear down those same tunnels and face the frightening spectacle of a tram coming directly at you.
Many times I had to jerk the steering wheel at right angles to avoid such an encounter. The Coca-Cola office was in the 23rd district and rather than take the highway to my apartment in the 3rd District, I would weave my way through town and the commute would take anything between 25-35 minutes.
One evening in January, I left the office about my normal time of 6:15pm, and it was snowing and dark. For the fortunate ones, like me, we parked our cars underground and on exiting the garage, the snow was indeed fairly heavy and covering the ground, still, I took my usual route home.
Because of the difficulties of driving in Vienna, I never deviated from my route. There were no GPS systems readily available then. To deviate could have left me interminably lost. Because I’m a guy, I wouldn’t ask the way, and even if I attempted to do so, it would have been an exercise in futility as my German language skills were severely limited.
So I joined the slower than usual moving traffic on my route. I must have been lost in thoughts of the day because I realized that at the junction where normally I took a right turn at the lights I was in the left-hand lane with no way of getting across without risking the wrath of other drivers. So when the lights changed I moved forward off into the unknown.
At first I thought I’d just find somewhere to turn around, but with the snow coming down harder, traffic increasing, the glare of the headlights and moving buses and trains, I decided just to keep moving ahead. I hate not knowing where I am going. It is the sense of lost control, the waste of time and the unknown.
I was getting more and more frustrated which had now started to turn to anger and after about three sets of lights I still had no idea of where I was. All the permutations of what I should do to rescue the situation kept going through my head and as I sat at another red light. I again peered through the windscreen to try and get a glimmer of something familiar, and then, suddenly I realized where I was.
Across to the right I could see my apartment building. Our apartment was on the first floor and I could see the lights were on and Shelley, my wife, would be in there feeding Karly our toddler.
How could this be? I looked at my watch. I was here in 15 minutes, 20 minutes quicker than my normal commute.
It then occurred to me, that just by choosing a different direction, quite by accident, I had found a more efficient route home. Sometimes we avoid the obvious that stares us in the face.
Sometimes we avoid change because we are comfortable with the same. Sometimes we procrastinate because it is easier. This story constantly reminds me that change is good, change helps us find better solutions and change can lead us in a more positive direction with our relationships as well as our lives. Are you ready for change? What do you think you should change?