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Discovering Something New in the Everyday

The Revelation

It's been several years since my refrigerator was new. I had carefully researched my options before making the purchase and have been making good use of all its features. Or so I thought. Today I found a feature that to some could be classified as trivial but to me was an exciting new discovery.

No, my life hasn't devolved to the point that I am looking for excitement in a common household appliance. Rather, I've learned that there is always something to unearth in even the most mundane moments of life.

The Mindset

There was an element of serendipity in the discovery. I had been talking with my husband earlier about a recent event we had attended and how it felt like a wonderful break from the ordinary. During the event, we were able to enjoy biking on city streets that we ordinarily would have driven. This allowed us to savor the sights, sounds, and sunshine in a way that we usually could not appreciate while inside a vehicle.

In that mindset, I began to look at everyday items in my kitchen with a more open mind. I opted for tea instead of coffee, quietly contemplating the color changing as it brewed. After adding oat milk to my tea, I was returning the bottle to the area of the refrigerator in which I usually store it when I had some difficulty slotting it into the door side container.

Had I not been in an open, contemplative mindset, I would never have noticed that the container had a pull-out option. I felt as though I had a brand-new appliance. I'm sharing this story with you to illustrate the point that no matter how accustomed you are to an object or an activity, there is still more to divine.

Discovering the New in the People You See Every Day

The principle of having more to discover is easily and more importantly extended to people. As a coach, I get to know my clients well, but I do not assume that I know everything about them. I carefully observe them as they share their thoughts in each session, listening to what they say and looking for clues to what they haven't said.

Observation is an important skill for leaders, as well. When you work in a role for the length of time it takes to become highly skilled, you might start to coast. You're on autopilot as you move through your day and communicate with your team. That's a normal part of professional life.

What would happen if you decided one morning to channel your energy into observing your team? You would probably find traits and skills in your team members that you hadn't noticed before.

For example, when you introduce an agenda item for discussion in a team meeting, pause. Allow others to speak first. Watch them and listen to their ideas and opinions. You will likely find that this team member is more creative than you had realized or that team member seems to have a large network in the company. You may find that there is a team member who knows when to jump in to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand when it veers off or another one who is skilled at soothing hurt feelings.

What's worked for me as a leader has been to share what I discovered with the team members 1:1 and talk about how they can capitalize on the observed skill. I have also used those discoveries to help with project and task assignments to ensure that team members can exercise the range of their capabilities.

I plan to put the newly discovered fridge feature to good use. I encourage you to do the same with what you uncover about your team members.

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