I heard a story this week from a friend who was helping her mother fix her DVD player. Her mother had struggled for over a month, and while they could get the DVD to load and see it on the screen, they could not get it to play. They checked the cables, etc. and then, at some point, my friend looked at the remote control and asked her mother if she had changed the batteries. Voila, all that was needed were new batteries.
To me, this story is a metaphor for how our minds work. We jump to solutions that make sense to us and sometimes miss a more obvious way to solve our problem. Sometimes we even focus too much on how to move forward when we should be focusing on what’s holding us back.
On a Hidden Brain podcast episode last year, the host, Shankar Vedantam, was interviewing psychologist, Loren Nordgren, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Professor Nordgren told a story about a consulting assignment that a colleague had. The client was a furniture company whose niche was fully customizable sofas with a target audience of young millennials. They had great success in attracting prospective buyers into the store to design their sofas but found that very few followed through with the purchase. They theorized that prices might be too high or customer service needed to be improved, both of which seem like reasonable reasons for lagging sales. It wasn’t until the consultant interviewed prospective buyers that they found the true reason. Prospective buyers were not sure how to dispose of the sofa they already had, so they didn’t buy the new sofa. When the furniture company added that they would take away the current sofa, sales shot up.
For me personally, in the future when I can’t seem to move forward on something that I’m trying to get done, I’ll try to look for the friction that is creating anxiety or limiting progress. I’ll also try to put my situation in perspective and remember that Maya Angelou quote, “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude .”
Take care and stay safe.
Death and Other Details (Hulu)
This new whodunit series debuting on Hulu is a rollicking mystery at sea with a cruise ship full of suspects. In the show, a man is murdered on an ocean liner and the "world's greatest detective," played by Mandy Patinkin, is on the case.