After I dropped my kids off at preschool today, the road I usually take home was blocked for some serious tree cutting. So, I was left with a choice. Should I take the most direct route home or a slightly more roundabout way that would take me through some neighborhoods that I had never seen before. Since I like to see new places and getting lost is never something I’ve worried about (As if it’s possible with smartphones these days.), I decided on the scenic route.
I enjoyed winding my way through the hilly and wooded neighborhoods well above the waterfront that everyone pictures when they think of Monterey. Eventually, I decided that I should probably find the quickest way back. Before I put that idea in motion, something large and white walked across the road in front of me. I slowed the car and parked at the side of the road amazed. Crossing the street was an albino deer.
I reached for my phone to snap a picture, but by the time I was ready, it was disappearing into someone’s yard. I thought about leaving, but realized that I had to have a photo. So, I got out of my car, walked across the street and searched for a better angle along the edge of the property. I couldn’t find one, so I snapped a couple photos that showed a part of it’s flank. Reluctant to leave, I waited another minute. Finally, it took a couple steps to get a better look at me. While it stood their staring at me, I snapped a picture. Satisfied, I whispered a thank you and strode back to the car, leaving the striking creature to nibble its meal in peace in that beautiful garden. The owners of that garden might not appreciate it breakfasting there, but I had certainly appreciated the moment that its breakfast had afforded me.
As I drove away, I thought about how lucky I had been. Breaking outside my normal patterns had shown me something unique and beautiful. It showed me that sometimes something extraordinary could be just outside my normal frame of reference. I realized that the same is true about work and about starting a company. Occasionally, you need to approach things from a completely foreign angle. Not because it will lead you to the solution, but because it can lead you to something new and unexpected. That could shift your frame of reference or give you a new insight, changing how you think about what you’re working on.