Learning from Mowing the Lawn

I mow my yard; I have since … well, since I was about 6-years old. When I was a kid, I did it as a way to make some cash. I could push a lawn mower around the yard for an hour and make $10: Yes, please. Fast forward to my adult days, its not as much fun when you’re not getting paid. When Kim and I were first married and living in the suburbs with a tenth of an acre, it wasn’t a big deal; I could mow the front and back yard in less than an hour. I even splurged and bought one of those self-propelled push mowers; I had finally arrived! 

Years later when Kim and I bought 2.5 acres, I had to update my mowing game; It was time to buy a riding lawn mower (I, of course, called it a tractor … which it wasn’t). I couldn’t just buy any lawn mower, I needed a fast, zero-turn mower. That thing drives like an adult go-cart! It suddenly was fun to mow the yard again. That only lasted for a few weeks. In the last couple of years, my oldest son has grown enough and he can competently operate the riding lawn mower. Now, mowing the yard has become his source of income (I pay a bit more than what I was making as a kid).  

What has been most interesting is to see the patterns and logic that of each of us use to mow the yard. I like to make long, straight lines and my son likes to make boxes. Neither of the approaches we use is wrong, they’re just different. It got me thinking about perspective in business. So often, I deem my perspective as the correct perspective when I look at a business problem. I’m really open to those on the direct team when they bring their expertise to the conversation; they have earned my trust and I respect their perspective. But, what I’m not very good at is listening to those who may be new to the team; I almost immediately assume their perspective is wrong. Why is that? Why is that our natural reaction to people? 

Last week, I mowed the yard because my son wasn’t feeling well. As I was mowing the yard, I found myself looking at the “problem” (how to mow the yard most efficiently) in a different way; I did this because it had been a few months since I last mowed the yard. Stepping away from the problem and tackling it with a new perspective was incredibly helpful. I was able to reduce my mowing time by 15-minutes. Applying this to business, if we allow those new perspectives to come into our business conversations, it can be helpful in finding new ways to overcome problems. The next time you write-off someone’s perspective or point-of-view, pause and allow them to fully articulate their thought; allow that perspective to be a viable solution to the problem you’re trying to solve.