When Jumping in the Pool Can Help You as a Leader

Recently, Peter and I made our annual March trip to South Carolina. Peter had begun researching our destination months back. He searched homes, called realtors, spoke to home owners and solicited tips from friends who know the area we are visiting. We arrived Saturday and the location, home and amenities were all perfect. It was clear Peter had done extensive research and much planning; he was happy.

Then came the pool. I mentioned to Peter how beautiful the pool was and he quickly responded that I had to use it. He told me that he made sure we had a heated pool and that he had already prepaid for the gas to make sure it was working upon our arrival and that he purposefully had the temperature set to 80 degrees. It seemed perfect.

To show my appreciation I got my bathing suit on and went in the pool. At first the water seemed cold but I continued. As I got deeper, the water became freezing but I ignored it. When I got in the deep end it was so frigid that I swam back and got out.  Peter was perplexed and a bit annoyed so asked me what was wrong and I simply said the water is too cold. “But it CAN NOT be cold” he said as he reminded me of all he had done to make sure the water was warm. I suggested to him to go in the pool but he did not want to. I mentioned that if he went in the pool he would be able to determine for himself if the pool was warm but he refused. Finally, after a little scuffle, some shoving and pushing he was in the pool. His revelation? The water WAS COLD.

As business owners, leaders and managers how many times do we invest time and money in something and fail to get the intended results? We may invest in new software or infrastructure that’s not overwhelmingly supported and we wonder why. That begs the question: do we, ourselves, use the new software to see how user-friendly it is or do we work outside our own infrastructure?  We may purchase new tablets for our team and are annoyed when they continue to use the old laptops. But, are we tablets users? Do we know if the tablets are clunky or not?  How about investing in a new phone system (or changing the way phones are answered) and clients complain? We are perplexed because the change was designed to improve the quality of our service. But, are we required to call the main number? Are we sharing our clients’ experience or do we call the “backdoor” number or use direct lines?  Finally, consider the times when we implement a new company/departmental policy that is intended to do good and treat people fairly but goes over like a lead balloon. We are amazed that our staff is resistant and a bit sore that they don’t appreciate all the time and thought that went into it. BUT, does the policy affect us?  Are we required to adhere to it ourselves?

There are so many examples of when we spend time, talent and money on something and fail to get the results we intended. This often leaves us perplexed, baffled, frustrated and occasionally, yes, even annoyed. Sometimes, “jumping in the pool” can help us by providing insight, often the necessary insight that is the key to a successful outcome.  So try taking a dip, gather some insight, do some tweaking and get the results you have worked so hard for.

As for the pool water?  It’s perfect. Peter turned up the heat.

By Kathy Briden