This was in the play, Panic in a Desk Drawer. In the play, Rachel is helping Charlie clean his room, and when it comes to the junk drawer, they decide they are just going to toss it all in the trash. In a panic, the desk drawer items, led by me, the thumb tack (wearing an aluminum foil covered cardboard point on my head) have to scramble to straighten themselves up and show that they have value and aren’t just junk. As far as I know, there is no photographic evidence of this amazing theatrical performance.
But, you know what I’m talking about. We all have at least one of those junk drawers in our house. In fact, I think we have three or four of them in various rooms; that drawer that is the catch all for all the stuff that has no “place.” For some it might even be a closet, or a spot under the bed, or just a pile of “stuff” somewhere. For me, it’s been all of the above.
I was reminded of this not long ago when I saw an article featuring images of suitcases and personal effects that were left behind by patients at a New York insane asylum. It was chilling and compelling at the same time. As I viewed the images, I realized that what I was looking at was more than just a jumble of items.
I was looking at stories. Pieces of a puzzle that could provide context and help me understand these people.
For some, a bunch of items thrown together might create confusion and give the impression of chaos, clutter, and refuse, but taken individually, and then in context, these items tell a story.
In my third grade play, each of the items in a desk drawer had the chance to tell their story and what they were good for: the rubber band, paper clip, a comb, and yes, even the good looking and highly intelligent thumbtack.
Your business is the sum of its parts. When people visit your business, that’s what they see. They don’t look at all the individual parts that make up your story. As I write this, I’m waiting for AAA to show up to jump start my daughter’s car. We take cars for granted when they run properly, but when something like this happens, we lift the hood and look at a mad jumble of parts. Now I’m left to determine if it is merely a dead battery, or a bad alternator. Every part has its own story.
Take a look at your business from this perspective and understand that your story isn’t just the sum of the parts, but that there are stories with each individual part. Each individual employee. Each individual piece of equipment. Each individual department.
Then find ways to tell that story to engage your customers on a greater level.
Truthfully, some of our businesses look a lot like a junk drawer to the outside world, while others might be more of an insane asylum! Either way, there are stories to be told.
What’s in your junk drawer? What story does your suitcase full of items tell? And more importantly, how are you telling it?
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