The entrance to our local Dunkin Donuts has large, friendly looking, bubble-lettered D’s on their doors outside. Those handles are a cute touch and they even look like the perfect shape for a door handle to pull open those doors- the gates to a Shangri-La of deep-fried goodness.
The problem is that you need to push, not pull those doors to get in. A momentary awkward scene plays out often as people pull and jostle with the door until they realize that they just need to push to get in. They have fallen victim to Norman Doors.
What are Norman Doors? They are poorly designed doors that confuse you to do the opposite of what you actually need to do. For example, a handle jutting out of a door would indicate that you needed to pull instead of push. If a door has a sign on it telling you what to do, it is most likely a Norman Door.
Seeing these people standing outside shimmying and shaking that door gave me a mini-epiphany.
A lot of times we work hard to reach goals but for whatever reason don’t find the success we hoped for. We were always taught to work hard and that hard work will eventually pay off. We start working harder, we may even get relentless, work late, sacrifice, double our efforts, but the results still aren’t there.
We work hard in many areas; marriages, weight loss, dating, sports, child rearing. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, the fruits don’t come. We hit a wall and are not sure what to do next.
Sometimes all that well-intentioned effort can snowball and ferment into conflict.
Have you ever seen one of those overprotective mothers or spouses who smother the one they love so much that they stifle nearly everything the relationship had going for it? The closer you pull them in the more they want to break free.
The only thing some people know how to do at some point is to dig in and power through it; yell louder to win arguments, give harsher punishments to stubborn kids, ride employees harder, pull that door so hard it nearly comes off its hinges.
This can work for a while…until it stops working. You sink down into the mud rather than rising up above it not realizing that things are getting worse not better. It tires you out and people get tired of you.
What if we considered something that would get us to stop spinning our wheels and maybe get the results we wanted even faster? Evaluate how we are working, not how hard we are working.
Sometimes it’s just a simple adjustment to improve:
Listen instead of talk, give instead of take, be stern instead of soft and the other way around.
Be careful not to be that person rattling that door, stuck outside when that’s needed is push rather than pull. Ease up, you may not figure out a better plan but you will at least have stopped holding yourself back.
The other aspect that we can’t ignore about the Norman Door is poor design. It’s the whole reason people are rattling and tugging at the door in the first place.
We can be the cause of our own undoing because of our poor planning.
We easily and unwittingly create scenarios that are destined for failure. Our own poor life decisions hinder our ability to thrive and like the Norman Door, end up inconveniencing others as well.
Some people have a knack for simplifying things and getting them done.
Legendary salesman Ron Popeil is a great example.
Other people have a knack for creating their own Norman Doors for themselves.
Stephen Covey demonstrates this brilliantly with his famous “Big Rocks” presentation.
It shows how being more active in the wrong areas leads to sacrificing the very things we want to achieve and they are hard to achieve because we failed to design the right plan for success. Once we know what success is, we can go about getting there efficiently.
“If we keep doing what we are doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting”
- Stephen Covey
Life was meant to be enjoyed. Once you get past those annoying doors, a rich cup of coffee awaits along with a half dozen warm, fresh French-Crullers and double chocolate doughnuts. How you get through those doors is up to you.