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Pack Your Principles

On a recent trip, our family decided to visit a park that we had never been to.

We weren't alone. We actually had a total of four children (under eight years old), and four adults (well over eight years old) in our little crew.

We were staying in a hotel and the goal was to get to the park by bus, because that's fun for kids, right? Right.

Getting to the park also involved a long walk from the bus stop.

This much we knew, but we didn't really know, because as I said, we had never been there.

So now that you have this context, let me tell you what this post is about.

This post is about knowing your strengths and choosing the right strength at the right moment.

Now back to the story.

Before going further, let me ask you this, dear reader...

Are you the type who likes to plan or are you more of a go-with-the-flow type?

If you think about it, each of those are strengths.

Interestingly, they also sit on the same spectrum. Let's call it the spectrum of adaptability.

On one end sits the planner, on the other sits the adapter.

It's very important to emphasize that with these two strengths in particular, they sit on the same spectrum.

For real this time, back to the story.

We managed to get our little army on the bus. It was a double-decker bus, so after we shuffled along quickly through the entrance, we rushed to seek some seats upstairs and were lucky enough to find them. The first part of this journey to park unknown, was a success.

Once we got off the bus, we were told to look for an overpass that would take us in a straight line to the park.

We found the overpass.

It was closed for repairs.

The overpass and the entire park itself is actually somewhat connected to a hotel. So we walked inside and asked someone at the hotel how we might get to the park.

We were given some new directions and began the long walk to park unknown.

It was a long walk. It was a hot day. We had four kids under the age of eight. We didn't really know where we were going.

Even if you don't have kids, the math on this is pretty easy.

Once we found the park, it was pretty blissful. Everything was outdoors, it had a giant splash pad, some cool slides, trails, and other fun things to entertain children under the age of eight.

Then it looked like rain. Heavy rain.

We were told by the park employees that if the rain brought lightning, they would need to close the park until the lightning subsided. We were allowed to stay but we couldn't use the equipment or anything so we'd basically have to be sitting around ... with four kids ... under the age of eight.

Again, the math is pretty easy.

The rain did come, but it wasn't as threatening as it looked. No closure required.

After some good playing time, we decided to get something to eat and then it was time to go home.

For part of the group, going home involved getting a taxi from the park. A pretty straightforward exercise.

For the four members of my immediate family (me included), we decided to catch a train.

One small thing, we knew the train station was in the park, but again, didn't know where in the park.

We began the journey to find it. It involved more walking in the heat, but just two kids this time. At one point we ended up in some kind of outdoor food court and I was convinced that there was no way we would find this train station.

We eventually found the station. We boarded the train. We were heading back to our hotel.

I asked you a question earlier, dear reader.

Refer back to it and now let me tell you something about this story.

My wife is a go-with-the-flow type. I am a planner.

As you read this story, I am sure you could imagine the various points at which both of these strengths were very useful.

The reality is, there were many points in this story, when my wife and I were trying to apply both strengths at the same time.

Unfortunately, that just didn't work.

If you have two strengths that are on the same spectrum, they are complementary. If you try to apply them at the same time, it just doesn't work.

It's like pulling both ends of an elastic band. You go nowhere, and you just create more tension.

In order for the elastic band to move anywhere, one end has to let go.

The magic lies in having the conversation to figure out which end.

One thing I've found helpful for this conversation is having a set of principles that you've agreed to ahead of time.

Making decisions using these principles can prevent a feeling of winner and loser, which can naturally happen when someone feels they have to let go.

If you find yourself venturing to parks unknown, don't forget to pack your principles.

p.s. This is my 100th post. Thank you for the gift of your attention, I remain deeply grateful and honoured to receive it.

yellow background with a navy blue backpack in the middle

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