I was out the other morning for a walk to pick up some tickets from the post office. Having forgotten my headphones I decided to make it a "mindful" walk, this means I notice as much as I can as I'm walking, instead of wandering along with my head full of thoughts and ideas. This can be quite invigorating when you notice something you haven't done in the past, or you see an amazing event of nature that you would normally have walked past (see my post on the horizontal tree!). There is a down side of course, on this particular walk I spotted how much rubbish had been thrown into the bushes and the river as well as how many CCTV cameras were recording me (42 between home and the post office less than a mile away!).
However, I did notice something that both amused me and made me think about how often we tell people to follow the rules, and often berate them for not following the rules, but how rarely we either define the rules or check that someone knows the rules. A mother and father were walking with their toddler, Nathan I think, and he kept wandering into "the road" (it was a quiet cut through for buses mainly, so he wasn't in any major danger!). His mother said to him, "Nathan, you know the rules, stay on the pavement" and steered him back onto "the pavement" only for him to promptly wander off into "the road" again. I watched this play out a few times before I realised what was happening.
At some point his mother must have defined for him what "the pavement" was - in our local area it's all brick pavement - and what "the road" was, predominantly black tarmac. However, down this particular part of the road there were speed humps that went over the road all made of .......... bricks! And this is what poor old Nathan was wandering on to, correctly in his mind thinking it was the pavement!
After a rather tense "NATHAN" from his mother, poor Nathan having strayed on to "the road" again, I gently said to her that I thought he thought the pavement extended into the road and pointed out the brick speed hump to her. She smiled one of those "he's my son, I think I know what he thinks" smiles at me and thanked me. As I walked on I heard her ask him to point to "the pavement", which he did, then she asked him to point to "the road" and he pointed to the black tarmac. With a smug grin she turned away from me just as his father said "Nathan, is their pavement anywhere else?" to which he pointed to the brick speed bump, at which point I turned, looked up to the trees just in time to see a sparrow returning to it's nest with a worm for her young and continued my walk.............
I wonder how often we do this, not only to our children but also our teams, colleagues and friends? Perhaps we should consider checking people understand the rules before we tell them to follow them or berate them for not following them?