Three lessons I learned from a mouse:
There is a small mouse hole on the ceiling of my garage. Every night, a belligerent rodent was throwing thimblefuls of insulation and other building materials through the hole and onto my garage floor. And above the garage was a bedroom I wanted to remain mouse free. But how was I to catch a mouse that hung out between the garage ceiling and the bedroom floor?
This furry intruder had no idea he had awakened a cunning hunter with a creative flair. After surveying the situation, I built an elaborate mouse-catching contraption made out of a stepladder, a four-legged stool, a green storage tub, a coffee can and a few old plywood boards, all artfully piled on top of each other. At the summit, strategically placed just below the dumping hole, I set a peanut-buttered mousetrap. Victory would be mine.
Not so. Each morning when I eagerly ascended the stepladder, new insulation and other bits of building materials were waiting for me next to the unsprung and still peanut-buttered trap. Of course, due to the fragility of my tower design, the whole contraption would topple and I would need to reconstruct my masterpiece each day.
Soon, I became convinced that Sherry and my son, Shane, had crossed over to the mouse’s side. Their little smirks and chuckles only intensified my ardor for victory.
One morning during my fourth reconstruction, Shane offhandedly mentioned that I need not put the trap so close to the mouse hole. He said that if the prize was desirable enough, the mouse would be attracted to it.
Shane’s comment got me thinking of all the times I try too hard, how often I complicate simple social and business transactions by being too present. If I have something of worth to offer, perhaps it is wiser to allow the other party the time and space to come to me.
Using such thinking, I replaced the Skippy peanut butter with a tiny piece of my prized Wisconsin aged cheddar. Then, rather than risking another ascent of my precarious tower, I simply placed the trap on the floor of the garage.
My anticipation made it hard to sleep that night. At dawn’s early light, I rushed to my garage. The aged cheddar was gone. The trap was still cocked. I glanced up at the mouse hole and saw two ears and a pink nose peeking out. I swear he was smiling down on me.
Lessons learned: 1) In order to attract others in life, you need to offer something that has value in their eyes. 2) Even then, it doesn’t mean things will go your way. 3) Ceiling insulation adds a nice, workman-like touch to any garage floor.
About the author
Since founding The Change Companies® in 1988, Don has worked with approximately 150 agencies and corporations, tailoring Interactive Journals to serve those working and participating in the caring professions. His collaborative efforts in substance use, justice services, impaired driving, healthcare and education have consistently focused on helping individuals explore the process of positive personal change.
Earlier in his career, Don worked in many industries, including hotel management, publishing, higher education administration and healthcare business development. Along the way, he created numerous companies, experiencing both successes and failures. Many of these life lessons and joyous observations found their way into Don’s recent book, The Adventures of Binder-Man.
Don is most proud and appreciative of the outstanding employees who have shaped The Change Companies® for over two decades.
Word of the Week
The Latin verb ardere meant “to burn,” so there was only a small metaphorical leap to make before this word caught fire in the subject of human emotion. Originally, the heat behind this word was used to describe basic desires, but around the 17th century, “ardor” came to define more noble passions and pursuits. A related word in today’s world is ardent, an adjective that describes energetic warmth and eagerness, from the same fiery root.