One of my absolute favorite places to go is Home Goods. Since they get new things all the time, you never know what you are going to find there and it’s always interesting.
I had just entered my neighborhood store and started on the little circuit that I like to make. I begin in kitchen wares and move toward the back. On this day, I overheard a girl speaking excitedly to a man I presumed to be her significant other, describing the picnic backpack she found. In bubbling tones, she started to explain to him how they would be able to get all the snacks in it and it even had room for a bottle of wine. Before she could finish, he cut her off and told her they didn’t need that. A little deflated, she countered that it was wasn’t very expensive. He ended the discussion by saying that whatever it cost, it wasn’t worth it because they simply didn’t need it. I saw her put it down, looking completely defeated, then walk away.
Their interaction made me really sad. I had to go check out the picnic backpack, because, frankly, she completely sold me on the idea. Seriously, it was ADORABLE. It had flamingos on it and looked like it would be perfect for a lazy afternoon at the park. The tag indicated that it was only $29.99. I personally thought this was an amazing deal and was disappointed that she wasn’t able to take this treasure home.
This interaction weighed heavily on me for the next several days. Honestly, I felt bad for her that she didn’t get her picnic backpack and I felt quite critical of the 90 second snippet I had caught of their relationship. While I believed I should have run after her and told her she should dump the dude and flock to the flamingos (on the backpack) the truth was, it might just be an epic misread of who he was. As I thought more about this situation, I finally realized what had ultimately gone wrong; she had made a poor personnel decision.
Now stay with me here, I don’t mean she picked a bad guy. What she needed that day, was someone to imagine and dream with and that simply wasn’t him. Now had she and I been gal pals, at the Home Goods store, the interaction would have gone something like this:
Her: Look what I found! It’s a picnic backpack!!!
Me: THAT. IS. AMAZING!!! Now you know the only reason you haven’t gone on picnics is because you didn’t have one of those!
Her: Right? And it’s less than $30.00!!!
Me: Well you have to get it. Think of all the fun you are going to have. Is there another one? Because I should probably be having picnics too.
Her: WE CAN GO TOGETHER!!!
Me: Now I am going to need to see if there’s a picnic cookbook back in the stationery section!
Let’s be honest, even if she never used the picnic backpack (or ended up just gifting it at the next wedding she attended) it would still have been worth the investment. Why? Because it was a chance to dream a bit and in doing so, feel more hopeful.
One of the biggest ways we get our feelings hurt by others is when we pick the wrong person for the job. We pick someone practical when we want to dream or we enlist our most conflict avoidant friend when we need to figure out how to say no. I believe this happens because we don’t always determine what we need up front and then find ourselves in situations where we are ill equipped for the situation we find ourselves in.
Think about the people in your life. Whether it be your employees, colleagues, friends or family, consider what makes each of them special. Are they great at seeing possibilities or are they better in situations where things are more constrained? Are they amazing at figuring out how to do the impossible or are they better at working with “what is”?
Here are some examples from my own life.
My friend Dana is one of the most tenacious people I have ever met. There’s no challenge, whether it’s a technical issue, recipe or puzzle she can’t seem to master. She’s the person I go to when something is going to be tough and I need to borrow some of her “stick-to-it-ness.”
My husband Joe is amazing with gathering facts. This makes him great at investigating issues, whether they be current events or how to fix our backyard deck. Once he has an understanding of something, he is able to succinctly distill it to its essence. He’s my top choice when it comes to understanding how and why things have happened/or played out in a particular way.
My friend (and business partner) Kerri has a spirit of adventure that is without comparison. She is always up for something new, even if it seems like it could be an epic failure. With her, I never fear she’ll think a suggestion is too crazy or impossible. She’s the first person I run my big ideas past and she never fails to one up them in the best possible way.
Let’s stop putting the wrong expectations on people who can’t meet them and pick the right people to help us along the way. When we do that, everybody wins. They get to do what they do best, and we get our needs met in a way that leaves us feeling whole and not defeated.
In retrospect, although I went to Home Goods that day to find a treasure for my home, I ultimately ended up with a lesson for my life.