Something interesting happened last week.
I was looking to clip my nails on Sunday morning. After my shower, I went to pull out my nail clipper. It’s a rather old one — but it’s the best! I wouldn’t exchange it for any other cutter in the world. It has been with me for several years, and I have held on to it even as the wife and the kids have tempted me with new-fangled alternatives. I have often felt that my nail clipper has built a special relationship with my hands and feet, and it is almost like it knows my fingers and toes very well.
As I looked around in the drawer that Sunday morning, I couldn’t find the nail clipper. That trusted old favourite was nowhere to be found. The wife offered a shining new one — the one she used — but I was in no mood to give it a try. The hunt for the old nail clipper continued for the next couple of days — but by now, I really needed to clip my nails. Desperately.
Left with no choice, I reluctantly took up the wife’s offer and decided to use the new nail clipper. I was apprehensive — and was bracing myself for an uncomfortable clipping session — and a painful couple of days thereafter.
But surprise, surprise. I discovered that the new nail clipper did a fabulous job. I must admit, it was a whole lot better than my old faithful. In that moment I knew I was hooked and was unlikely to go back to the old nail clipper. My fingers and toes never felt so good!
And that set me thinking.
Maybe we all have our own versions of an old favourite nail clipper. Something we cling on to — and refuse to let go of — even though a better alternative may be available. It may be a habit, a process or a way of working. We are convinced our methods are the best in the world — and are reluctant to look at new ways. We resist change. And as a result, we stay content with the old way and miss out on what could have been a significantly better alternative.
Without even giving a new idea a fair chance, we conclude that our existing method is better. We rationalise that it is the best, or that it’s the only one that works for us.
And we are not always lucky. The old nail clipper doesn’t go missing — so we don’t get to experience the newer, better alternative. Or sometimes, by the time it goes missing, it’s already too late.
Maybe a good idea then to throw away the old nail clipper. Embrace the new. Don’t get emotionally attached to an idea, or a way of working. Be willing to experiment. Look out for new ways to solve old problems. Your methods may have served you well for a long time — but that does not mean it’s still the best way to do it. The world is changing. Technology is changing the way everything gets done. And individuals and organisations need to be ready to change too. As Marshall Goldsmith likes to say, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”
Sometimes, losing the old nail clipper could just be the best thing to happen. Better still, don’t wait. Do yourself a favour. Throw away the old nail clipper.