Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Input Is Input

Some posts are fairly personal. Some, like yesterday's, are personal, but so universal that they become parts of conversations with all sorts of people. And so it was that I ended up in conversations with a variety of people about that one--both people in the middle of the same situation and those years away from dealing with it, people who had gone through it already (and lived to talk about it!), and people who had only their thirty-something year old memories of similar situations.

What I realized in talking to people was that it wasn't just those in the middle of it all who could understand or, more important, offer useful input. On the contrary, people both far away from it and far beyond it offered some of the best input. They could see the big picture, or perhaps the little one, with eyes that weren't quite so glazed. They could offer light that helped me see in my tunnel and that helped me realize that there was, and would continue to be, life outside the tunnel.

In life, and in work, it is easy to think that we can only learn from those who are doing what we do, or from those who have already seen or done more than we have for longer than we have. It turns out that some of the best input often comes from the other places in our lives--people who are younger, or a few (or more than a few) steps away from our situation.

The truth is, you never know where and when you will find the best input on a situation. When you share your own frustrations and challenges, it turns out that there is all sorts of input that can help. You just have to listen carefully, so that the input really gets, well, input.

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