You Don’t Put New Detangler in an Old Bottle

This past week, it rained for five days straight. Not just gray and drizzle but downright pouring. Floods. Mud. Wet. While my ducks liked it very much, I must confess that it just put me into the blues. Weather impacts me in strange ways, you see. It didn’t help that things have been a bit stressful in New Jersey as well as here. When stretched too thin, even the most elastic rubber band will snap.


So, after a less than satisfying morning at work, I returned to the farm and decided to spend some time with my mustang, Malibu. Despite the heat and the little gnats, it definitely helped my mood to groom her (for me, it’s just too hot to ride). Her long mane looked so pretty after I detangled it. And she even nuzzled me which, for Malibu, is big. She’s not the most personable horse on the planet.

While I was grooming Malibu, Cat was busy with one of the other horses. It was nice to be out in the barn—I’ve been so busy with other things that I haven’t spent much time outside recently. My mood started to lift, especially as I listened to Cat sharing stories from her day. At some point, Cat needed more detangler for the horse she was grooming. An order had just arrived (we use Green Horse Organics detangler). She found the new bottle and started to unscrew the top to the old bottle. At first, I thought she was going to switch the spray top onto the new bottle, but I quickly realized that she intended to pour the new bottle into the old one.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

She looked at me, surprised by my question. Clearly she thought I was stupid. Wasn’t it obvious? “Refilling the detangler.”

“Why not just pour what’s left into the new bottle.”

“It’s empty,” she said.

“Then why not just put the sprayer into the new bottle?”

I suspect she was a little embarrassed at how obvious the solution was to her problem. She didn’t think about how much of the product would splash down the sides of the old bottle or the time it would take to pour the liquid from one bottle to another. It certainly was a solution that would have worked, but it wasn’t the most efficient solution. As she put the sprayer onto the new bottle, she made a joke about how she wasn’t the smartest tool in the shed, but I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, she just demonstrated something that is indicatively wrong in our society today.

How often do we make things more complicated than need be? How often do we not think about the most effective solution to the problem? Sometimes the answer is staring at us in the face, but we ignore the obvious and take the path that is most familiar, even if it’s not the correct one. I think we get too comfortable to question things in our lives. We get used to how we always do things…the routine of life. Sometimes, however, if we take a step back, we see situations from new perspectives. We can get better, faster results by trying things a bit differently, but only if we are willing to pause—even if just for a minute—to see the big picture. Otherwise, we risk losing out on new opportunities.

Earlier today, someone at work sent out an email, complaining about people showing up late at work. Consequences were laid out to ward off future tardiness. I grew annoyed reading the email because I’ve read it at least a dozen times before…from the same person to the same group of people. I knew that someone must have arrived late at work and, rather than address that one person, this manager emailed everyone outlining why being tardy is bad and what would happen in the future when people are late.

The same message was sent. Again. The same consequences were outlined. Again. Yet everyone knows that nothing will change. Maybe it was easier to resend the threat than to actually act upon it. Or, even better, address it directly with the individual who was actually late. But that was too obvious of a solution. The most practical and effective solution was overlooked for a more complicated one that would certainly be less efficient. New “detangler” was being poured into an old bottle.

Clinging to the old and familiar might be comforting to many people. But no one ever advanced in life—financially, professionally, spiritually, socially, etc.—without making some changes. You simply cannot keep doing the same old thing over and over again while expecting new results. It just doesn’t happen that way. So, if things are feeling like a gray and gloomy week of rain, maybe it’s time to take a step back and see where in your life you are creating more complicated situations rather than simplifying your life with the obvious and overlooked solutions.

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One thought on “You Don’t Put New Detangler in an Old Bottle

  1. Love this!! Maybe I need to step back and get new perspective on my life!!!

    And…totally with you on managers who addess the group rather than the offender.


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