Dawn Celeste LLC


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O Christmas Tree

Life lessons can come from anything or anywhere, even vacuuming up pine needles. Really? Really.

About a week ago we said goodbye to our tree and took it to the recycle pile. While Rick was loading and hauling the tree away, I grabbed the vacuum to clean up the needles left behind.

I started with the easy part — the wood floor — and quickly realized that it took two runs over the needles to get them all. I tried to use this technique for a while but quickly tired of the inefficiency. I tried the hose and using it to tap on the wood floor to pick up the needles. It worked, but I was basically sucking up one needle at a time. Way too slow, but at least I got the needle on the first try!

Next was the carpet. I soon realized that more than the double swipe was required on the carpet. Even a triple swipe did not work. Ah, duh, empty the bin. — that’s the problem. Done. Is it any better? Nope. Then I diagnosed the real issue: It’s time for a new vacuum! This vacuum was old and had done a good job over the years, and now it’s time had come. Let it rest in peace and I’ll get a new one.

As I was wrapping up the vacuum cord I noticed that the dial was pointing toward “Hose” instead of “Floor”. I’d been asking the vacuum to meet my expectations while I turned off the suction to the part I was using. Oh geez. So sorry vacuum, I was about to throw you away!

With the simple fix of turning the knob to “Floor” I whizzed through the rest of my cleanup feeling grateful for the vacuum’s (really my) miraculous turnaround. I’m sure emptying the bin didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t the real issue. How often do we try something, it doesn’t work, so we stop, blame ourselves, others, the device, the strategy, and immediately change course?

The next time something isn’t working, let’s take a pause instead of following our visceral response to immediately jump to the backseat. Stay in the front seat and be uncomfortable. Take a breath, assess the situation, and make a decision. Look carefully and critically and own our part of the outcome. But stay curious. Have we really gotten to the root of the issue? Are we sure? It takes healthy doses of judgment, wisdom, and humility to decide when to change and when to stay the course. Life and business and people are not simple. Not simple and not always easy to navigate.

What techniques do you employ when deciding when to change and when to stay the course? Where have you found unexpected life lessons? I look forward to hearing from you.