Read the Signs and Adjust

Picture this: A table upon which sits an urn marked “Hot Water” and a selection of tea bags nearby. Next to the urn is a tray with mugs. Next to that is an empty tray. Next to the empty tray are several clear glass urns filled with ice water and floating lemon and orange slices. At the far end of the table is a tray marked “Dirty Glasses” which has several empty mugs and drinking glasses.

Now, a man walks up to the table wanting a glass of ice water. A confused look crosses his face. Clearly the empty tray should have clear glasses intended for ice water. The perplexed man doesn’t know what to do. After staring at the table for a little while he eventually asks a hostess what he should do. She suggests using the mugs for ice water until some water glasses could be procured. The man does so (a little begrudgingly). I asked myself why it didn’t occur to this man that a mug could also hold cold water? Why the confusion? Why didn’t this man arrive at the mug-for-water conclusion himself?

But, as I thought about this (admittedly) silly little story it occurred to me that perhaps this story could illustrate a valuable point, a bigger story. Like most of us, this man was reading the signals all around him. Hot water, tea bags, and mugs equals hot tea. Empty water glasses, water urns, means ice water. Except what happens when the water glasses are gone?!?! Heavens! What to do? Confusion reigns!

How many times have we approached a situation with expectations, read the signals around us, and then just lost it when our expectations and the signals we read don’t match with reality. Are we able to adjust? Are we able to get the results we want by taking a different path? Sometimes we are so married to having things go a particular way that any variation throws us off. We give up. We panic. We freak out. We shut down.

Now, how about YOUR business? You work with this brilliant consultant (ahem) and develop these great strategic plans. You envision how things are going to go. Then doggone it the world doesn’t cooperate! Most of the signals you read were spot on…but not all. You arrive at the table (marketplace) and realize there are no water glasses. Do we let it get you down? Do you throw your hands up in frustration and give up? Do you waste time looking for someone to hand you an alternative solution? What if that hostess wasn’t around? What if it didn’t occur to HER to suggest using the mugs?

When confronted with a situation that isn’t exactly as you expected it. Don’t get caught staring at an empty tray! Adjust. Pivot. Be creative. Look for another solution. Sometimes that means using that mug that’s right there in front of you! After all, it also can hold water.


I LOVE to help leaders improve and businesses grow!

Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let's explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com

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