Not long ago, I needed two people to help me cross this street. It was covered in a thick coating of ice and that, combined with the incline, made it impassable for me in my regular shoes. Even with assistance and slow, deliberate steps, we barely made it to the other side without all three of us falling.

I thought of this when I had to cross the same street again, only this time in clear weather. In about three strides I easily traversed the pavement and, had it not been for my harrowing crossing the last time I was there, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

While I wouldn’t wish ice on anyone, I think it’s good to have experiences that are easy under one condition and challenging in another. It helps develop empathy when we note that not everyone experiences the world in the same way or with the same abilities.

Where have you done something that varied depending upon the circumstances? Speaking is easy, except when you have laryngitis. Writing is effortless, unless you have a broken arm and need to use your opposing hand. Driving is routine, unless the sun is in your eyes or there is snow on the road.

Remember that just because we find something simple to do or understand does not make it universally so.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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