author Jackie Madden Haugh talks about being a creature of habitOne Monday I did the unthinkable. I broke loose from my typical routine and wandered outside my comfort zone to soak in all that was new and different.

The work week begins promptly at 9:30am at Alain Pinel Realtors with a business meeting. One-by-one, the agents herd in and go straight to their personally designated spots along the counters, desks, and walls. Coffee and agenda in hand we prepare to be inspired.

At the helm is our manager-extraordinaire, Bill Lewis, GQ clad in his finest attire. He stands in the middle of the crowd and imparts his knowledge, wisdom, and expertise in the fine art of selling residential real estate in a complicated market.  Like everyone else, I have my own little territory. I stand along the back wall with a group of handsome male co-workers. But on this particular Monday, I decided to I’d shake things up a bit and move myself to the left wall.

Bill began as he always did with humor and the pertinent information we’d need to face the challenges ahead. Usually, I’m glued to his every word, but from this new vantage point, I found myself focusing on far more exciting things.

Nestled among the brilliant women I call my colleagues, I noticed items I’d never seen before. Linda was sporting a new engagement ring. Kathy had on adorable shoes. So did Liz, Lynn, Susan, Kim, Patrice, Erika, and Yvette. Heck, everyone did!  Whispering, I had to know where they bought them. Lost in this delicious smelling group of high fashion and feminine trappings, I was reminded that I enjoy being a “girly-girl” and not just one of the guys along the back wall.

 But the most astonishing revelation was seeing my dear friend Judy Bogard-Tanigami’s profile from the left as she sat across from me. Every week when we travel on tour together, have lunch or work in the office, it seems I’m always to her right. Studying her delicate profile for the first time, I saw her in her entirety, not just as an incredible business woman. The gentle curl to her lips when she smiled, the wink in her eye at something she found funny, the kindness in her soul as she nodded to other agents. I always knew these things, but for some reason it was now completely clear.

I may not have gained any new real estate knowledge that day (sorry Bill), but I walked away from the meeting having learned something important about myself. I am a creature of habit always with my eye on the bigger picture and missing out on the microscopic details that make the world around me richer. Well, no more!

When I go to church, I now sit in a new spot instead of the same pew I have for 30 years. At Safeway, I walk on the wild side and try all the other check stands, not just lane number 3, and when teaching my aerobic classes at the Y on the weekends, I force myself to stand in a new place of the room. It might be uncomfortable at first, but I always walk away meeting someone excitingly new.

One might ask, “What difference does this make? Routine is a good thing.” Sure it provides security, structure, and can help us accomplish daily tasks in an orderly fashion. But just think of all the things and people we miss by never looking in any other direction. Now, if I could only afford a new car with the gas tank on the right instead of the left my world would be complete!