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Shell Game

My wife and I were sitting at the beach when a woman walking by us stopped at an elaborate sand castle about 25 feet away. The castle was a bit over the high water mark and was drying out and slowly collapsing.

To our surprise, the woman started to kick the sand castle down. My wife and I watched with jaws agape. She then used her feet to smooth the sand. We tried to ignore her but kept turning towards this odd sight.

The woman must have noticed our staring because looking straight at us she started doing a breaststroke move with her arms and wobble across the sand with her legs bow shaped. We wondered why this woman, who we now had determined was a bit loopy, was imitating a turtle.

As if to answer our question, she pointed towards the dunes and we saw a turtle nest. The nest had been smoothed over to give the hatchlings a better chance to get to the ocean. The “crazy” woman was doing a similar thing. Her efforts were designed to help turtle hatchlings make it safely to the sea.

As I thought about the turtle helper, I realized that I often misinterpret other people, often for the worse. For instance, when driving and getting stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, I often curse the incompetence of the driver in front of me. Later I realize that the driver is being impeded by a driver in front of her. The same is true in golf: I blame the foursome in front of me for being slow, when it is the foursome in front of them that is slowing the pace.

It is so easy to jump to conclusions without all the facts. It is also foolish. We make decisions about our lives based on these conclusions. More dangerously, as leaders we risk making bad decisions that may negatively impact others.

When you see someone doing something that seems illogical or irrational to you, rather than concluding that the person is irrational, you should spend the time to see if a logical reason exists. Often simply asking the person why will give you a different perspective on the actions. (I am destroying a sand castle to help turtle hatchlings.)

The same is true about your perspective on issues. I recently subscribed to The Flip Side. This newsletter captures liberal and conservative commentators on an issue of the day. Reading both sides has opened my horizons and perhaps has made me a bit more tolerant of those who disagree with me.

Remember, things may not be as they appear at first glance. It was worth taking a second and deeper look. That second look can help you be a better decision maker.


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