My way or the mucky way

A few weeks ago, we had another Covid scare. The lady who lives with us and looks after us when we are busy online ‘zoomed out’ and ‘teaming up’ with the world, fell ill. We quarantined her and while we waited for the test results, we decided to share the workload. Among other things, mopping the floor fell on my strong shoulders. Two really important lessons that I learnt about myself came to me courtesy of my fight with a floor swab.

This is real-world work and it’s really hard. To make it easy on my back, my kind wife had anticipated the day that I may be pressed into poocha duty and bought a wonderful gadget called the ‘super safai spin mop’. This is where I met lesson number one. It all began when I walked past the dining table and saw her opening a box out of which a whole lot of interesting-looking parts emerged. I love jigsaw puzzles and I love being the man of the house. When an exasperated Deepa called out to me and said, “I can’t do this, can you please figure out how to assemble the floor mop…” I was more than happy to offer my help. (At this stage I did not know that I was expected to use the said mop as well as assemble it)

The super safai floor mop had a really simple instruction manual, in fact it was so simple that I could not figure out what it was telling me to do. So, I decided that I would figure it out myself. How difficult could it be after all? An hour later when wifey emerged from the kitchen, I was still sitting at the table with the mop and bucket. I had raced through pieces of it, but the last mile was proving to be tricky. How to get the handle to clasp the swab and spin at the same time? This was the USP of the super safai spin mop. What was the point of having a super-efficient mop that would not spin dry?

As she was walking by, she said, why don’t you google it… Duh of course I could but my male ego was in play and I was determined to figure it out on my own. My rather curt retort to her was “You asked for my help, now please leave it to me and don’t tell me what to do. I know what I am doing.” Victorious, but very irritated with myself, just to make sure I had got it right, I now took a look at the youtube ‘unboxing video’ – yes I kid you not there was a detailed blow-by-blow account of how to assemble the super safai floor mop available for technically challenged people like me. I am happy to report that in the end, I was triumphant, but what could have been a 10-minute job took me over an hour.

Just when I thought I had done my bit for the day, I was informed that I now needed to swab the house. She said, “let me show you how to do one room”. In a huff I said, “Leave it to me. If it’s my job to do, I will do it my way”. I then proceeded to fill the bucket with a few inches of water and furiously swab the floor. Once again, walking by, wifey said,” you will need more water…” By now you know my reply. Determined to power through this task, I attacked every room with determination. Found all the difficult corners. Dip, spin dry a bit, and then swab, swab, swab from room to room (without changing the water). I did not stop to look back.

If I had stopped to look back, I would have seen that I was leaving muddy footprints across the house. What I ended up doing was taking all the dirt I could find, collecting it in my few inches of water, and then spin mopping it efficiently across the entire house. The next morning when lady luck smiled on us and the lady was let out of quarantine, I am told she was horrified. She wanted to know how Bhaiya had managed to get the floor so dirty in one day. An unintended consequence of this little episode is that spinny the floor mop has been packed up and is sitting in its carton again.

The moral of my story – wifey was trying to help me both times. My ego got in the way and I told her to back off and let me do it “My Way”. I was not open to listening. My need to show how smart I was and exert my independence, got in the way of finding the smart way to do the task at hand. The next time she or anyone else offers to tell me how to do something and I find myself reaching for ‘my default way’ of responding, I need to stop myself and receive the help on offer by listening and learning from their experience. This is a mucky reminder of how much I can benefit from keeping an open mind and exploring other ways of doing things.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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