Today's tale is one of intrigue, ingenuity, and a little bit of improvisation.
There I was.
I had just returned from an evening out (writing at the library of all things). My wife was working an evening shift, and the only ones at home were our animals.
I walked up to the front door of our house, unlocked the deadbolt and turned the knob. Nothing.
This seemed fairly odd since the key was moving in the lock and everything seemed normal. Then it hit me. I didn’t lock the deadbolt when I had left a few hours earlier. I had locked the doorknob itself.
Now this may not seem like much to you, dear reader, but let me tell you, it was a terrible realization to face. The doorknob’s lock had been broken for some time. Since the house key is the same for both locks, I hadn’t noticed that I was locking the wrong one when I had left the house before.
Either way, it didn’t matter because the door was locked and I couldn’t open it unless I was inside the house already. Ugh.
YEP, IT'S REALLY LOCKED.
My first thought was to try the back door to our deck. It’s almost always locked, but since my wife wasn’t going to be home for several hours, I had to do something.
It was locked. Tried again. Yep, still locked. Could have guessed it, but I was running out of options, or at least, so I had thought.
It was starting to get dark out and a bit colder. Then I heard little barks from inside. Side note: our amazing goldendoodle, Dexter, sometimes sounds like he’s saying “boof” rather than actually barking. That’s what I heard now - a series of confused and depressing ‘boofs’ coming from our kitchen.
I had to think of something soon.
I took a few deep breaths and just considered my options one at a time.
- Hang out in my car and wait until someone came along to help. Possible, but not particularly practical.
- Call a locksmith. Also possible, but not wallet-friendly.
- Break a window… Hey, wait.
I didn’t need to break a window. I just needed to open one!
NINJA-LIKE ACROBATIC SKILLS
Fortunately for me, I had brought our deck chairs out early this year. The only problem, the window I was looking to get through was up high and just above our kitchen sink.
You guessed it. That meant that even if I could get it open, I’d have to not only climb through a window that was 6 feet off the ground, but also climb over a sink. Now, at least there weren’t dishes there at the time, but still.
I reached up just to see if the window might be open. It was!
I placed the deck chair below the window and soon realized that it was not meant to be. I’m a tall 6’4”, but even I couldn’t really make it happen. But as you're likely aware, houses don’t just have one window. I know right?!
Anyway, the two window options remaining were a tiny bathroom window 7 feet from the ground and a giant sliding window in the living room about 4 feet from the ground. I bet you know which one I picked. I brought the deck chair to the front, placed it over top of the flower bed at the window and checked to see if the window was unlocked.
Eureka! I was amazed to find I was in the clear. I was also amazed to find that we apparently don’t lock our front window. Hmm.
I slid the left sash to the right, stepped onto the chair, and took a large step through the opening. At this point, I pulled myself up and through the window to find that Dexter and our two cats were sitting at the end of the living room, watching the drama unfold. Frankly, I was surprised they hadn’t made popcorn.
One last hurdle, our couch. There's a little bit of space between the back of our couch and the front wall. I proceeded to roll over and down the couch and found myself sitting in front of a happy, albeit confused goldendoodle, who likely wondered where I had trained as a ninja.
This ordeal taught me to be mindful of the situations I find myself in and to improvise when I have to.
Improvisation is a skill just like any other. Although you probably don't consider it one. The more you deal with project issues, the quicker your reaction time will be to develop viable solutions.
When you’re inevitably faced with your next problem to solve, try looking at the issue from an entirely different vantage point than you’re used to. Even in the most difficult of situations, there will always be a solution. Sometimes it just happens to also be the most unorthodox.
Trust your instincts and brainstorm all of the options you can think of. List them out and go one at a time. It doesn't matter how crazy they may seem. It's about working through the problem.
After you can see the options in front of you, you may realize that the best way to get through the locked door is an unlocked window.
Thanks for being awesome!
P.S. // I lock our windows now, just so you know.
THIS WEEK'S EVOLUTION:
Since you can't actively develop your improvisational skills without a situation, start by looking at your tasks for the week. Instead of working through them as you always would, take this as an opportunity to mix up your style.
If you're used to getting one task done at a time, see if you can batch similar tasks together. If you look at email constantly, try only looking at it at the beginning and end of your day. It's not about perfection. It's about trying something new that pushes your comfort zone and allows you to grow.