Inspect and explore to do what you can’t

A drawer in my kitchen broke at the beginning of last week. You don’t realize how easily you slip into a routine until something breaks.

Despite four people coming in-and-out of the apartment all week, the drawer sat half-in and half-out of the cabinet for three or four days. Eventually, near the end of the week, I found a few spare minutes away from writing and working to look at the problem.

I sat on the kitchen floor, the drooping drawer before me, and shined a light up into the old cabinet that once held the drawer in place.

It took only a few minutes – ten, at most – for me to learn that the drawer was usually held in-place with a single, rubber wheel which sat in a small, enclosed, metal rail along the top of the cabinet. Somehow the wheel had been dislodged. It wasn’t a simple matter of putting it back in place, despite my attempt to do just that.

Instead, upon closer inspection, I noticed that at the side of the cabinet closest to me, the metal rail opened up. Aha! I twisted the drawer, tilted the rubber wheel into the gap in the rail, then slid it backwards to find that the drawer was now fixed. Simple enough!

Later, when conversing with a roommate, I asked why nobody else had taken the time to fix the drawer or at least look into it. His reply: “We didn’t know how to fix.”

But the thing is: I didn’t either. All I did was look at the situation long enough to find a solution. Most of the time (usually) that’s all it takes, to write the book, launch the business, create a product, learn to paint with oils, or fix an ancient, broken drawer.

How often do we go throughout our day thinking we can’t do something, simply because we’ve never taken the time to look at what it takes to make it possible?

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