I recently got promoted at work, and part of my training is learning the basics of being a bookseller. Of course, it’s as complicating and simple as it sounds. I tend to overthink everything, so what should be easy usually is what stumbles me, but what’s complex is a breeze, because why not be difficult?
Well, at one point, my manager asked me to shelve a book and when I went to put it in its rightful place, I discovered the shelf too full to fit the book. So I start trying to figure out a way to adjust the books on that shelf so that this one will fit. We can turn books with multiple copies so the cover faces out, so my first thought was to do that and see if it helped, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t make room on this shelf.
Finally, my manager comes over and asks me what I’m going to do with this book that won’t fit and instantly I overthink the matter and tell her I’ll put it in overstock.
…What an absolutely stupid idea.
She, fortunately, didn’t hate on this idea of mine, but said, “What you’re doing is focusing on this one shelf. But look at the rest of the bookshelf. There’s four and five books turned out on this and this shelf, and only two here. What if you balance that to make them all have only two or three and see if that doesn’t make room for it?”
And this is when I really felt like an idiot because obviously I had several shelves to work with but I had hyper-focused on the one I wanted to put my book on, thereby completely missing how I could not only make room but make the display a lot more pleasant to look at.
What I love about this, is a couple days later I was thinking about how I do this in day-to-day life. I hyper-focus on one individual matter, neglecting others and fussing over how I don’t have time or energy or whatever it might consume, without realizing that maybe if I balanced myself and my life out better, I’d have some space for whatever I’m trying to add in.
I guess what I am getting at, is that sometimes we need to look at the big picture when something specific isn’t working out in order see what needs to be fixed. In fact, the solution might not even seem related to the subject at hand. My manager actually had me start from the bottom shelf when the shelf I needed to use was the top one. It took me reworking from the furthest point up in order to accomplish my goal. And while this sounds like an obvious answer to me now, it wasn’t when I was in the middle of it.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back. Sometimes that’s really all it takes.