In May I spent some money and put a new swing set up for my kids. It was a 6-hour project to put up, but man did the kids love it. I had followed all the directions (well almost) and it looked just as good as the picture!
Fast forward a month we left for dinner at our friend’s house, and when we came back, a strong storm came through and blew the entire tree house over.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t follow the instructions of anchoring it down using provided hardware. I remember saying to myself “I know better,” “It weighs too much to blow over.”
Was I ever wrong, the ironic part of this story was that our neighbors directly across the street had had their swing set blow over three times in two years? The evidence was right in front of me for why anchoring of a swing set was necessary, but I choose to ignore it or box it out of my decision-making process.
After this all happened, I concluded this same thing goes on in everyday life. We see the clear evidence of how this decision will play out, but our minds convince us due to some ego that we know better.
This pattern had repeated several times over the years but was never as dramatic as my swing set laying in the yard flat. The swing set was a wake-up call to my decision-making progress and how I had got to this situation.
Where this shows up in our life first is when we are teenagers, and we won’t listen to our parent’s wisdom that something is bad. Our younger ego says, “what do they know.” But as we grow up and experience life for ourselves we realize the moments where-where we say “damn, my parents were right.”
The second lesson from this was how critical the best plan without anchor points, can still lead to it all coming down. This shows up in our business life and personal.
An executive team of a large corporation can have the best plan in the world, but without anchoring it down for when that storm comes through, all your hard work might be for nothing.
One of many mistakes I had made in my installation was I only anchored it down in two spots by the swings where it was weakest when the kids were using it. I ignored the other portion because the problem wasn’t visibly noticeable under normal situation.
A business leader might spend that extra two hours on his strategic plan where he thinks it’s weak, but completely overlook one area that is dependent on a constant market condition. The market changes and the entire plan collapses on itself.
As life happens, we usually find the things that we didn’t’ see coming or that didn’t go as planned end up upsetting us the most.
Every environment has blind spots or dangers we can’t see, but it is how we respond to these situations that help us move past them. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was frustrated with myself after this happened. I switched the moment into an opportunity and asked what does this now make possible. I changed a horrible experience for both my kids and me into something which brought a new level of awareness to my life.
I realized looking back on these two things. Events in our life need anchor points, from a playground to a family budget having an emergency fund. Second, always look for evidence to support how past experiences worked out for others.
Also published on Medium.