I was traveling back from the airport last week when I fell behind a school bus taking kids home from school. When you are in that situation you can’t help but notice the kids sitting in the back of the bus.
It brought back instant memories of my time on the school bus and the routine involved. I had different school bus scenarios that involved either traveling to school or going to various sporting events. The common thread of those trips was the sameness of the bus ride. From the first time you step on a school bus you establish the pattern of the school or sports year. You know from that first week forward what seat you will be sitting in and who you will be sitting with. Nothing changes. The kids in the back of that bus the last week of school are the same kids who sit in those seats every day.
I thought back to those days many years ago when I would ride the bus to various sporting events. I always sat on the bus with the same friend and we always talked about the same thing. It was nice. It was safe. It was comforting. I knew that if I made a mistake in the game, we would get back on the bus and just fall back into the routine. There was no fighting or complaining. Within a few miles we would be back to cracking jokes while risking the anger of the coach, depending on if we won or lost. The routine and sameness was what made it special and what established those memories that we talk about some thirty-odd years later at class reunions. Those routines were what made us who we are and what established the life-long memories that we will carry with us forever.
But was it the right thing to do?
What would have happened if I would’ve sat with someone different once in a while? What if I would’ve mixed things up a bit and started to learn more about other teammates or classmates? Would my view on things or expectations have been changed going forward? Could I have expanded my horizons a bit and built a larger base of acquaintances? Would that have brought other opportunities to my life that I missed out on? Would someone else have not been as patient with my errors or misplays? And if so, would that have made me want to do more to improve? These are things that I will never know because I never tried.
Think now about your work life. Is there an established sameness to it that is both comforting and safe? When was the last time you changed around the floor-plan of your location and tried something different? Have you taken different employees out for a lunch meeting or coffee, or do you basically stay with the same one or two people with your established routine? I say it is never too late to change things up. Just a few subtle changes to your floor plan – moving the customer chairs, enhancing the lighting or moving your displays around – can create opportunities for other people to take notice of things they might be missing. There are so many times in my life that I walk by the same thing time and time again without really noticing it because it is a part of my routine. We have several pictures that line our wall at work that I never took the time to look at until they moved them to another wall and they suddenly became “new.” Viewing things with a different perspective can help some of those things get the attention they need. Maybe a customer will suddenly notice a display that they have passed by for years? Having lunch with an employee that you haven’t before could spur a conversation that you hadn’t thought of. There are many benefits to “changing your seat on the bus” that can help enhance your business and possibly increase your opportunities for growth.