How “Garbage Day” Thinking Changed My Perspective

I often say, “you don’t need to know everything, you just need to be teachable” and I believe an essential part of being teachable is listening to the voices of others. We gain insight from their input and in turn can make more informed decisions. My failure to do this with my wife one day led to what I call “garbage day” thinking.   

Some years ago, my wife drove me to work. As we backed out of the driveway, closed the garage door, and proceeded towards the street, I noticed my neighbors had their garbage cans out. My wife commented, “It must be garbage day.” She suggested that we should retrieve our garbage can and put it at the curb so it would be ready for the trash collectors. I immediately reminded her that garbage day was on Friday, and it was only Thursday. I then scoffed and wondered why all of our neighbors had put their garbage out and proceeded to successfully convince my wife that I was right. I had influenced her through my thinking, and because she considered me a trusted voice, she believed I was right and that everyone else on the street was wrong.

When I arrived at my office, I looked at my calendar. To my surprise, it was actually Friday, and it was garbage day. See, when I saw information — observed it for myself — then listened to my wife’s commentary, who’s part of my trusted wise council, I ignored all that evidence for the sake of what I thought I knew. I thought I knew more than what others could contribute or teach me. Ever since that day, I have avoided “garbage-day” thinking at all costs.

Being teachable and trusting others is essential to any leader’s success. If we have an open mind and approach our decisions knowing that others are making valuable contributions, we lessen the risk of “garbage day” thinking.  Has there been a time when “garbage day” thinking influenced you and your team?

“Remember, you don’t have to know everything, you just need to be teachable.”

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