Recently, a customer requested help changing the setting on her printer and within days I saw a video of a commencement speech that addressed how we default our perceptions in life. It made me think about the term “default setting.” Copiers and printers generally default to black and white, and plain paper settings. We have to specifically choose color, card stock paper, 11×17, etc. We all have a default setting in life too. In the day to day rat race, we automatically go black and white. Our cranky co-worker is just annoying and lazy and so we put off responding to their emails. Our irritable boss is too demanding and we waste time grumbling at our desks thinking about what we would like to say to him. Our work seems meaningless. We watch the clock just waiting for the day to be over.
What if we choose to change that setting? What would our day look like?
Changing the default setting means choosing to be aware; choosing to think beyond ourselves. That cranky co-worker may have just been up all night with a sick child. Maybe he and his wife are having problems and he is worried about the possibility of a divorce. It could be as simple as the kid missed the bus, the dog knocked the milk off the table, and the baby spit up on the silk blouse making her late for work.
The demanding boss may have just got news the health insurance company increased premiums and he is concerned how this will affect both business and his employees. Budget cuts may have just forced her to deny an employee a much deserved raise. Maybe the stress of holding the welfare of so many customers and employees in his hands is just a little overwhelming today.
These things may not be true; some bosses are jerks and some colleagues are not warm and friendly. However, we can’t know everything. We choose how to perceive the world – black and white or bursting with color. By choosing to change our default setting to color, we step outside of our own little bubble of “me”, and see the multitude of possibilities instead of the limitations. Maybe, just maybe, our workday will be a little less monotonous, a little more rewarding, and a lot more productive.