My daughter’s school choir wasn’t behaving well, and her teacher wasn’t happy…
“You lot are a disgrace,” he said. “You only behave properly when there are visitors here. I went to another school last week, and you should have seen those children…well-behaved, polite, and a pleasure to be around. Not like you lot. Why can’t you be like that?”
There was silence in the room, until one young girl aged seven had the courage to raise her hand…
“Yes,” said the teacher, more than a little irritated.
“But Sir,” she protested, “you WERE the visitor!”
The seven-year-old had identified what millions of adults fail to grasp ~ that the grass only seems greener on the other side of the fence. When you get to look at it properly, more often than not it’s just as brown and weed-ridden as yours.
Most people are keen to create a positive impression. That means they tend to play up the good stuff, and hide or suppress the negative when presenting to others. As an outsider, you rarely get a realistic impression. You’re not going to get a true picture of their school…
And you’re not going to get a true picture of their business either.
I speak to many people who are running one business or enterprise, but want to switch to another because it looks easier with less problems, nicer customers and higher profits. But they should always bear in mind that as a ‘visitor’, they can’t possibly see the full picture. That can only come when they get right on the inside, and stay there for some time – when they get beneath the veneer to what lies beneath.
People who don’t do that, spend their lives being seduced by new veneer, only to be disappointed by harsh reality. And then they repeat the same cycle over and over.
Has this ever happened to you?
I think the key is to understand that in most situations, you’re the ‘visitor’, and to treat what you hear, see and experience accordingly. That doesn’t mean replacing open-mindedness with cynicism, but it does mean abandoning the rose-tinted specs.
Equally importantly, it means fairly evaluating and appreciating what you already have. It’s a shame if you have to go to the trouble of clambering over the fence, before you can appreciate how green your own grass really is.
And sometimes, the climb back over, is less than straightforward.
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