Recently my five-year old neighbor came to greet me as I returned home. He carried a ball in his hands and, as will happen with those learning the finer art of coordination, it escaped him. As the ball rolled under my SUV, my neighbor started to clamber under, then realized the ball was outside his grasp, and he would not be engaging in a safe practice. He spied my cane and asked to borrow it. I gave him my cane, thinking he would turn it around and use the handle as a crook to snare the ball.
This being his first attempt at retreiving a ball from beneath an SUV, he did not think the same way. He preceeded to hold the handle and point the end under the vehicle. As he swiped the ball it drifted further under the SUV and ultimately became wedged.
Before I could say, "lets turn the cane around and use the handle to snare it," his father joined us and took over--except, he held the cane by the handle as well.
Not wanting to correct or critique the father in the son's presence, I smiled and silently thought to myself, "Like father, like son."
He tried a couple times. Each time the cane tipped the ball, it rolled further away. Finally, on his last attempt, the father shifted his angle and successfully retrieved the ball, in part due to his longer reach, and in part due to the new angle.
I wonder how much easier would the task have been, if he had simply used the cane in an unexpected way?
More importantly, how often do I use the tools at my disposal in the same timewarn way? When was the last time I approached a problem with fresh ideas?
How long has it been since I used the crook to unexpectedly accomplish my goal?