Tuesday, May 21, 2013

7 Lessons from My Plumbler

"What did I learn today?" I ask myself every night before getting lost in a dream.  I try to set myself into a learning mode every single day, open to learn from everyone and everything, and to be aware of what I'm learning.  My latest lesson came from my plumber.

On the first hour of the first day of what already promised to be a  hectic week, water was coming down from under the kitchen sink, flooding the house - well, that might be an exaggeration on my part, but there was definitely a big pond! It is exactly one of the last things you want to see when you wake up in the morning ready for a busy day. Desperate is how I felt.

I tried to cut the water flow, without success, but thankfully my husband did.  We had no other choice than to call a plumber (for me and for many reasons it felt as painful as calling the dentist!) and I went ahead and canceled all my meetings for that day.

Mr. Plumber arrived with a nice smile on his face and approached the area of disaster very calmly, almost ignoring my anxiety. As soon as I sensed his attitude, I realized that things were under control. From there on, everything turned into a lesson:

  1.  No matter how big the leak is, the attitude we bring into the issue matters! When we are faced with a crisis, we can become the first part of the solution or the problem. If the plumber had walked into my house with the same anxiety I was having, I wouldn't have trusted his ability to solve the problem and he would have become part of the problem himself. As soon as I saw him and because of his attitude, I started to think with more clarity  
  2.   Any leak can be viewed differently: perspective, perspective, perspective! A flood to me was just a small incident for the plumber. The pond looked "terrible" to me - I was already imagining my house flooded and everything destroyed. In reality, the problem was small and easy to fix, just by replacing a tiny inexpensive part.
  3. A leak starts small before it turns into a pond, so pay attention to the first sign of "alarm" and take quick action! I must confess that I knew about a leak for a while, but I chose to ignore it and instead convinced myself that it was "nothing".  Had I handled the problem as soon as it started, I wouldn't have needed a plumber on such short notice. I could then have planned for it with enough time on my schedule, avoid canceling commitments, pay a more reasonable fee, and not experience this desperation.
  4. Be prepared to cut the water supply in case of a leak - know your stuff! This is true for the water but also metaphorically. Be prepared and courageous enough to stop a problem before it grows bigger.
  5. Water leaks require a plumber or handy man - expertise matters! It is ok not to know something, and to call the expert to provide his perspective and skills. Confession number 2: I put some ducting tape when I realized the leak was not stopping, and then hoped for the problem to be solved. What do I know about plumbing? Nothing!
  6. A leak can originate in many places, and the problem is not always what we think it is!  I kept looking at what I believed was the root cause of the leak, but because of that I didn't pay attention to something else that could have been obvious too.
  7. A plumber can teach a coach life lessons. Identify your teachers and become one! The plumber came in, did his job and left. He didn't think of himself as a teacher and yet he was giving me a life lesson. Next time, I will make sure I appreciate my "teacher", and by doing that try to be a teacher and a learner myself.

The week ended up being less hectic than expected, even after this incident...on Friday, there was a perfectly shaped rainbow in the sky. The rainbow taught me that where there is water there can also be sun and something beautiful can happen.

As it turns out, we can always learn a lesson and make our lives a more interesting journey, even when it all starts with a tiny drop that becomes a pond.

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