Making the Mundane New

Two months ago, I broke my wrist.  My right wrist, and yes, I am right-handed.  I won’t go into the gory details of trying to avoid surgery, having surgery, casts, discomfort, the joy and pain of not being able to drive. What I want to talk about is how the new went from being a challenge to becoming mundane, and what that means for your organization. So first there was trying to eat.  Left-handed. Not a pretty picture.  Not the world’s most fastidious eater to begin with, I made my 4-year-old twin grandchildren seem decorous at table.  Everything was hard.  Add to that the fact that I couldn’t cut anything, and hard truly was difficult.  And messy.

And then, seemingly suddenly, left handed was just the way I ate.  Still couldn’t (can’t) cut anything, but I can get it on a fork or a spoon without much chaos.

There was doing my work—the part that takes place at the computer.  Since my cast was removed a few days ago, I am back to typing two handed, but for 7 weeks, I only had one hand, and the mouse was being manipulated (poorly) by my left hand!

That was more difficult than eating and yet, in the first week, I was able to put together handouts, a keynote presentation, a proposal and two reports. It took a lot of time, there were interesting typos, but because I was so slow, I had time to think about what I was doing and that caused some changes—good ones, I believe—to my thinking.

Not driving—well in LA that can be a problem, but truth to tell, I’m dreading getting back behind the wheel.  My days have felt slower, more relaxing, and much more productive.

In short, I’ve had to create new neural networks for doing what I’ve done without much thought. Now, suddenly, everything took consideration.  Everything required me to think about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and of course, how I would get it done.

That’s what change does. Instead of just doing what you’ve always done, try doing things differently—or doing different things. Yes!  It will be uncomfortable.  Perhaps even fraught.  Things won’t move as smoothly.  You will have to think about what you are doing.  That may make you consider why you are doing it.  And you may have to make a plan for how to get it done.

As my wrist heals, I find myself thinking, should I continue doing this left-handed or go back to using my right hand?  Can some of the adaptations I make to accommodate one-handedness make what I now can do two-handed better?  Can I incorporate the really important lessons I learned—taking my time, considering what I was doing, finding the best way to tackle something—into what I am able to do now?

In short, can I continue to challenge myself to keep trying new ways so things don’t become mundane and I revert again to doing what I’ve always done because, well, that’s just the way I do it.


Janet Levine Consulting helps nonprofits move from mired to inspired.  Let her inspire your organization and your board.  Check out her website, or contact her to learn how she can help you discover the new.