Debra Swersky
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Poop In The Sink

It was Thanksgiving several years ago when my four year old niece ran through the house yelling “There’s poop in the sink!” No one sitting in the living room could understand what she was talking about, and she was doing one of those yell-and-fly-by type of things that four year olds do that didn’t warrant an emergency of parental unit inspection… so everyone laughed it off and went on chatting. But, the phrase stuck with me. What was she saying? And why do I still regularly recall this expression?

What I think she was saying was that there was something that looked like poop that was in the sink. I/we highly doubt(ed) that feces were actually in the sink - neither kitchen nor bathroom. But, it is quite possible that in the cleanup of the scrumptious meal that we had eaten that a poop-like substance could be in the sink. Being the smart four year old girl that she is, she correctly identified that poop does not belong in the sink, so of course she was calling that out for everyone. Her expectations had been appropriately set that poop belongs in a toilet. (Thank goodness! Well done, Parents!)

But here I am, several years later, recalling my niece running through the house yelling “There’s poop in the sink!” and thinking to myself, why do I remember this? Is there a lesson here? At what points in my life is this phrase coming to mind? It’s when something that I don’t think should happen appears to be happening… like dog poop in my apartment hallway. Apart from being cruelty to animals, that type of behavior just doesn’t belong in any type of building - luxury apartment or otherwise. 

Therein lies the lesson. I need to recognize my projected expectations on the poop in the hallway situation. I am of the mind that feces belongs in the toilet, or outside and neatly picked up and disposed of (if you’re a dog). Mindset X. The dog owner(s) living in my building may feel that having their dog poop in the apartment hallway (versus their apartment) is acceptable. Mindset Y. In this situation, I find myself in a highly confrontational situation where my opinion clearly differs from that of my neighbors. I get it… everyone has their own way of tying their shoes. 

As I wrote about last week (Everything happens for a reason), seeing poop in my apartment hallway is a reminder about what I don’t like about my current living situation, so that I can avoid this type of living situation in the future. Be it vet the property more closely, segment the community more appropriately, or just straight up avoid living with dogs. (It’s not that I don’t like dogs, it’s that I don’t enjoy their feces in what I deem to be inappropriate places.)

But, more to the point (and because I don’t feel compelled to limit this post to talking about poop), seeing what I don’t like about a situation, in conjunction with assessing my expectations, has helped me to identify areas of improvement in businesses. Leadership, in addition to products and services, are great examples of this point. When we join a company, purchase a product, or sign onto a service we want it to be, appear, function, and work as advertised. Our expectations, from the moment we were exposed to the leader, company, product, or service, have been set. Herein lies the area of opportunity: what is expected and what is reality.  

My takeaway, and in continuing to play off of last week’s message: Sometimes it’s good to experience the worst (poopiest) situations so that we can remind ourselves not to be an awful (poopy) person to others, provide a terrible (poopy) experience, or put ourselves in horrendous (poopy) situations… and in my case take the initiative to make sure that poor (poopy) impressions do not happen for-and-to others.

Debra Swersky