An Argyle Sweater comic featured two balloons trapped between the ceiling and the ceiling fan. One says: “You flipped the wrong switch again” and the other replies: “Why do we even own a ceiling fan?”

I think it’s an appropriate metaphor for so many situations. Instead of blaming others (or ourselves) for the outcome that is experienced, why don’t we ask why we continue to put up with what caused the problem in the first place?

Instead of stressing about what to get Uncle Joe for the holiday, question whether you should continue the tradition of exchanging gifts. Rather than have repeated angst over how a process is designed, propose a new way of doing things. An option to fretting about the time spent in meetings is to cancel some of them and use other ways of communicating.

The next time you find yourself complaining about what is, force yourself to step back and ask why you are in this situation at all. Instead of repeatedly trying to get the balloons unstuck, you may be far better off by removing the ceiling fan altogether.


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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