I walked into my office and noticed something strange. Joey the Cat was taking a nice long nap in Miles the Pug’s bed. That was the first time that Joey ever had made any attempt to get close to the bed.
You see, Miles calls the shots in our house. Joey will always slink carefully into the room to make sure that Miles is nowhere around. Between you and me, I believe that Miles is all bark but no bite, but his actions have convinced Joey that he must stay on guard and be careful. He is clearly the alpha dog and rules the house.
For some reason, Joey had decided to make some changes in his life and took the big step to sleep in Miles’s bed. It was a gutsy move after all these years.
A couple days later, I found Joey sleeping on the chair in my bedroom. What’s unusual about this is that it’s a well-known fact that the chair with the throw belongs to Miles. I found this behavior odd and had never seen Joey attempt such a move. I chuckled about this and went about my work for the day.
The next day, I found Joey asleep in Miles’ bed again. Then it got interesting. Miles walked into the room and got ready to get in his bed. I held my breath as I waited to see what would happen next. Joey looked up and made no attempt to move a muscle. He put his head back down and went to sleep. Miles just stood still and stared, confused by this new turn of events. Eventually, he decided to go under my desk and fall asleep.
How and why did this happen? The cat and dog had spent years knowing their well-defined roles and playing them out on a regular basis. But here they were, changing things up in a big way.
Suddenly, Joey had changed his behavior, which led to a totally different and surprising outcome.
I work with many organizations where teams are having difficulty collaborating and working together. Often, certain individuals within the team will be struggling to get along. The complaints usually focus on the other person’s personality traits, negative behavior or shortcomings that they feel impede their ability to work with them successfully.
Very rarely do they see how their own behavior might be blocking their path to success. By focusing on the other’s faults, they have difficulty seeing how changing their own behavior and communication could quite possibly change the outcome. Each member is playing their defined role and will continue to play their role until something or someone changes. But it’s often so hard to see that clearly.
If this hits home with you, give some thought as to how you might be playing into this negative situation. What responsibility do you need to take to change the situation from one that is negative to positive?
Be like Joey and take a leap of faith— take the initiative to change the situation.