I often get up from my desk at least once per day to take a walk outside. Fresh air, movement, and resting my eyes from screens is helpful. I realized, today, that I only walk on the same side of the street on which my office is located. I have never thought of this before. I mean, who really cares, right? But I think it must represent something …
When my thoughts challenged me to go walk on the other side of the street, I experienced slight anxiety. Weird! However, once I did, I found that I was more aware of my surroundings because things were slightly unfamiliar. For example, there is a tree bursting with tiny red berries that is very visible from the other side of the street, but I had never noticed it. Now, I couldn’t avoid noticing because there were squirrels playing in the branches as I walked under the thick coverage and berries crackling underfoot making the sidewalk quite messy. There was truly a lot going on in that small 1/10 block that I had never observed.
What are we missing by staying on the same side of the street? Think of the different areas of home, work, service, or play that are quite familiar to you. Do you miss all the bright, vibrant, lively, sometimes messy, small areas that exist around you because you feel anxious about the unfamiliar?
We stay away from change and continue on our normal path to our peril.
Yes … patterns, plans, processes, and habits are all very helpful in our daily lives and can serve us well. You are probably aware of your own – good and bad. But what about the things you are not doing but could be doing? What about the things people around you are doing? We grow together when we are aware of these things.
I recently confronted these questions in my own household. In January, we moved to a new house so our patterns have all changed. My four daughters, who are very happy with the move, have been resistant to helping with things that they normally did on a routine basis. As my frustration mounted I realized that their resistance and complaining was a lot less on the weekend. So I took a “step on the other side of the street” and saw that they prefer downtime before engaging in chores. Our daily commute is quite different now and with the compression of time I was wanting chores done as soon as we arrived home. I like to get things done while I am still “moving” because once I stop I want to be done for the day! But the girls are missing the downtime they used to experience right after school. To be honest, I didn’t even pay attention to the downtime that they used to enjoy before chores because we had been in that pattern for so long. With this new realization, I am no longer trying to form them to the process that is comfortable for me and we are working together to make a new pattern for our weekday chores.
Where can you apply getting out of your “zone” to experience the other side of the street? Take the step … observe, listen, breathe in that less familiar space. Learn from the people and environments around you – in your personal world and in your professional environment. Let me know what you find!