Is there a doctor in the garage?

I remember a story told by a tremendous professor I had in grad school. Not only was he an excellent teacher, he was a renowned clinical psychologist. He held certifications in hostage negotiations and in heavy-duty trauma work. He was called in to help in the wake of the 9/11 disaster.

I had a chance to meet with him a few weeks ago and afterward, this story he told twenty years ago came back to me.

One day, he decided to back his car into the garage. He waxed eloquently about the idea of getting into the car in the morning, of pushing the button on the remote opener and having the door rise to give view to a brand new day. He envisioned both the real and symbolic beauty of setting straight off into all the promise the glorious new day had to offer. I can see him smiling as he headed for work.

He said that he got to the end of the block, stopped at a stop sign, and couldn’t remember if he had closed the garage door. He drove around the block and while the door was indeed closed, it threw a monkey wrench into the machinery of the flow of his new approach to the wonderful new day.

Undaunted, he repeated the procedure the next day. He repeated it right down to not remembering about the garage door and going around the block again to check.

That was enough. He went back to pulling frontwards into the garage, backing out, and turning around to head off to work with no lingering doubt in his mind about whether the door was open or closed.

I believe the story was originally told to help define obsessions and compulsions. But as I thought about it 20 years later, another moral to the story came to mind.

Have you ever thought you had a great solution to a problem or a great new approach to some issue in your life? Have you convinced yourself that this was the answer you’ve been looking for? Have you ever had it blow up in your face? Have you repeated the process over and over again with the hope things would turn out differently? I sure have. You know what it means when you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result….

So, I think the way to handle these situations is the way Dr. Tom did. Come up with new ideas to try. Think of all the positive possibilities. Give it a shot. Don’t give up if it doesn’t turn out the way you planned. Sometimes it does take a couple tries to get something new to work. And sometimes, a couple of tries is all it should take to realize it’s NOT GOING TO WORK!

It’s great to come up with new ideas and embellish them with hope and thoughts of success. But come on, not every idea is a winner no matter how badly we want it to be.

I think successful people are the ones who come up with lots of great new, outside the box, and even off-the-wall ideas and give them a try. But success can come two different ways. One way is when the idea works and the other is when we cut our losses, learn what doesn’t work, and drop those like hot potatoes, and move on to the next possibility.

And remember the more ideas you explore, the more likely you are to find some winners.

“Director at Leadership Warren County

Studied BA Psych MS Counseling at St. Bonaventure University

Went to Eisenhower

Lives in Russell, Pennsylvania

From Russell, Pennsylvania”

That is Gary Lester’s Facebook profile. His FB photo is “Warren Area Cacophonic Kazoo Organization”

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