I just spent several large chunks of time looking for this: http://feliciaslattery.com/blog/uncategorized/turning-the-box/   (Hurray for *finally* finding it again ~ )

I know I’ve mentally referenced this article often, if not out loud or in so many words, both here and in real life conversations. This was definitely one of the pieces that ‘primed my pump’ for changing the way I look at Life, The Universe, and Everything! Perhaps it’ll be useful to you, too.

Thank you again, Felicia!

Turning the Box

Published January 27, 2007 | By Felicia Slattery

Life lessons can come from the most wonderful, least expected places!  Today I was playing with my two-year-old daughter, Miranda.  One of her favorite toys these days is her shape sorter box.  You know the kind; it’s the cube with various shapes cut out.  Until recently, she has been working on getting her shapes down.  She is now at the point where I’ll say, “Miranda, pick up the triangle,” and she’ll actually go for the triangle about 9 times out of 10.

Today she learned a new skill: turning the box.    As she was struggling to fit the round shape into the square slot, she realized she couldn’t force it in.  Until today, she would try and try, but couldn’t force it and would just give up and pick up another shape.  But today she looked at the box for a second and realized the round slot wasn’t even on the side of the box she was looking at.  That’s when she picked up the box and turned it around to the side that did have the round slot.  As soon as she saw it, she dropped the round shape into the round slot and she was thrilled!  And ready to select the next shape.  For the next 10 minutes– nearly an eternity for toddlers– she gleefully picked up shape after shape, wildly flipped the box around and around until she found the right slot, and easily dropped the shape where it belonged.

As my little Miranda was turning the box for the first time, I was reminded of my own business.  I realized I was trying to take my “triangle” background and force it into the wrong “rectangle” slot.  Like my two-year old, I kept trying, but I just couldn’t make a triangle fit into the rectangle slot.  It wasn’t until I turned the box of my own reality did I find the triangle slot.  The triangle slot was there the whole time, but I couldn’t see it because I wasn’t looking at the whole box.  When I turned my box, I could see the correct slot right away.  I was trying to force something that was not going to fit, but now, it’s so simple!

All it took for was one great coach to ask me a question and suggest that I turn the box.  That was it.  What “shape sorter” are you working on?  Have you thought about turning the box?  The next time you are working on a problem, take a step back and ask yourself if there is another perspective.  If something is not going easily or well, it could be that you are trying to fit a square shape into a round slot.

This is one task that a great life coach can help you do really well.  Sometimes we’re too close– we don’t even realize there are other sides to the box.  All it takes is one person to ask, “What if you tried turning the box?”  I love life lessons — especially the lessons I learn while playing with my kids!

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Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed., is a Communication Consultant, Speaker and Coach with more than a decade of experience teaching people effective and powerful communication skills in order to achieve their happiest and most successful lives.

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