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Snow or Insulation? It's a matter of perspective

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

A friend and colleague who lives in the Midwest told me this story about the long, snowy winter that region endured this year: A group of students living near the local university were freezing in their poorly insulated rental house. Not only were they half-buried beneath several feet of snow, but the howling winter winds turned the house into an icebox. Everyone was miserable...until one enterprising soul had an idea. This young man made a huge pot of coffee and then hustled everyone outside. There, using shovels and plastic storage tubs, they started making bricks of packed snow. Over a period of about six hours, they made and stacked their bricks until they had a snow wall about six feet high around the entire front of their little cottage. They left a small space on one side for a door, packed up their tools, and then went inside and fell asleep. The next morning, the students woke and noticed that their house was much warmer than it had been. The snow wall not only blocked the wind, but it effectively insulated the house, reflecting back the heat that escaped through the thin walls and single-paned windows. It was brilliant. Local newspapers came out to photograph the icy feat of engineering. Where one person might see a problem, a wise person sees a solution. As we build and manage teams of diverse people in widely varying circumstances, it's important as leaders to remember that there are many perspectives on the same situations. Nothing is cut and dried. One person's trouble might become another's building material. How do you encourage your people to look at things from multiple perspectives?

A friend and colleague who lives in the Midwest told me this story about the long, snowy winter that region endured this year: A group of students living near the local university were freezing in their poorly insulated rental house. Not only were they half-buried beneath several feet of snow, but the howling winter winds turned the house into an icebox. Everyone was miserable...until one enterprising soul had an idea.

This young man made a huge pot of coffee and then hustled everyone outside. There, using shovels and plastic storage tubs, they started making bricks of packed snow. Over a period of about six hours, they made and stacked their bricks until they had a snow wall about six feet high around the entire front of their little cottage. They left a small space on one side for a door, packed up their tools, and then went inside and fell asleep.

The next morning, the students woke and noticed that their house was much warmer than it had been. The snow wall not only blocked the wind, but it effectively insulated the house, reflecting back the heat that escaped through the thin walls and single-paned windows. It was brilliant. Local newspapers came out to photograph the icy feat of engineering.

Where one person might see a problem, a wise person sees a solution. As we build and manage teams of diverse people in widely varying circumstances, it's important as leaders to remember that there are many perspectives on the same situations. Nothing is cut and dried. One person's trouble might become another's building material.

How do you encourage your people to look at things from multiple perspectives?

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams