As a consultant, people often ask questions about what it is that “do” for a living. When I think about a “job description” it encompasses a wide range, including project management, risk mitigation, guidance, motivation, and even being a task master when necessary. Really though, guiding a financial institution through a conversion of its core processing system and a host of ancillary applications, is all about managing change.
Change, whether we embrace it or fight it kicking and screaming the entire time, is inevitable. And it’s hard. Even “good” change can be hard. We become so used to our daily routines, and being comfortable with the familiar, that sometimes we don’t recognize that there’s another way, even perhaps a better way to accomplish the things we need to in life, work, relationships, etc.
So now you’re probably wondering how this ties in with the title of this article, right? Glad you asked – there’s a funny story behind it, that at the time left me speechless, but has since served as a reminder to come out of my comfort zone to explore new ideas and experiences.
The story takes place several years ago while I worked in the deposit operations department for a local community bank. At the time, our team was located in a basement annex to one of the bank’s offices, with about 11 of us squeezed into a very tight space. As our department continued to steadily grow, the bank transformed what had previously been office rental properties into a spaciously updated and modern space at the bank’s headquarters location.
We waited with anticipation as the space began to take shape, which seemed like an eternity, but finally moving day came and it was time to pack up equipment, files, and personal belongings and say goodbye to the old space. The new space was located downtown, and occupied by roughly 100 more of our colleagues than the previous location, and with that came some changes to building access, parking privileges, and such.
As we’re wrapping up operations on Friday evening, I was approached by a somewhat panic-stricken colleague who said that she didn’t understand the directions given for parking, and asked me to explain. “Sure!” I said, and then proceeded to explain where our assigned parking area was, and how to access from the street, and was met with a blank look, followed by an extended vacant stare.
Obviously, my directions were no good, so I again repeated them, this time using my hands as a visual guide. Again, blank look and extended vacant stare. So, somehow expecting a different result, I tried a third time, and you guessed it, same blank look and extended vacant stare. Finally, I suggested that she drive by the new location after work to check things out before Monday morning.
The response? “I don’t drive that way.” Now it was my turn to have the blank look, as I said “what…?” Again, she repeated, “I don’t drive that way.” Obviously anxious about the parking situation, yet not willing to change her drive home from work to check things out. I was completely astounded by this, especially since the drive would have been no more than 10 minutes out of the way, and that she would in fact, being driving that way come Monday.
Whenever I find myself avoiding change or stepping outside of my comfort zone, I will often remember “I don’t drive that way,” laugh at the silliness of it, and just do what needs to be done.