Strategic Thinking: Firing Up Your Personal Zamboni

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you stay productive despite a series of failures.

Zamboni Smooths the Ice Hockey Rink

          I don’t remember the brand name of my do-over sketching pad– the forerunner of Etch-a Sketch. All I remember is how much fun I had as a kid with my new drawing toy. I can still see that red wooden pencil.  I can still recall how amazing it was that I could draw thick black lines on that clean  cellophane covered sheet. Over and over again.  I’d work so diligently on a project. Then I would make a few mistakes. Get frustrated. Or bored. I would just want to start over. And instantly, I would get my wish.

     A clean slate. I could start over. I just lifted that cellophane covered sheet off my drawing and my doodling disappeared.

         Oh how satisfying the sound of that cellophane sheet—sheeeeeeeeeer— tearing away from my drawing.

        Oh how rewarding to see the blank slate confirming the demise of my previous work without a trace that it ever even existed.

       And oh, how enticing to have that same blank slate challenging my imagination. Once again. Brand new.     I still have a do-over drawing tool that has helped me become a more strategic thinker and a more productive leader. Maybe this tool will work for you too in helping you clear away the clutter in your mind so that you can think more clearly.

      I like to think of my do-over drawing tool as my personal Zamboni, the ice rink resurfacing machine that glides across the rink between periods of a hockey game and smooths away all the scratches, marks and rough spots that players etch into their ice-covered “cellphone” sheet of ice. That Zamboni machine also repairs and coats all the nicks and gashes in the ice to make it smoother and more efficient to skate on.

                     “Your mind is like this cup.
It is already filled with your own ideas and opinions”

      Whenever I am frustrated in trying to solve a problem, I think of the Zamboni in my mind. I try to clear away the clutter and often I recall being a kid again with my cellophane covered drawing sheet and making that sheeeeering sound like music to my ears.

      Indeed the ability to clear your mind of previous information that could taint incoming new information is a key leadership skill, a skill I first started applying after hearing the story of the college professor who visits a Zen philosopher to learn of the Buddhist belief of enlightenment through intuition and meditation.

     The Zen philosopher welcomed the college professor into his home. The Zen philosopher offered to pour the professor a cup of tea. The Zen philosopher poured and poured and poured until the scalding hot tea cascaded over the brim of the cup, flooded the table and dripped onto the professor’s lap.

    The enraged professor sprang to his feet and blurted to the Zen philosopher: “You invite me into your home and then you pour hot tea all over me! The Zen philosopher calmly said: “You have come here to learn more about Zen. Your mind is like this cup. It is already filled with your own thoughts and opinions. To savor new ideas and new thoughts, you have to first empty your cup.”

     I try to empty my cup as often as I can so that I can drink in new ideas –and help me draw new conclusions. With a sheeeeeering sound still ringing in my ears !!!!

Today’s ImproveMINT
Clean the clutter in your mind on a regular basis to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

You might also like these Leadership Mints on Strategic Thinking:

Perspective: Becoming a Mean Person

Brain Power: Igniting 60,000 Thoughts Every Day

Broadening Your Funnel Vision

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