Stop Focusing on the Shelf

Estimated read time: 1 minute

Image by Elyias Siddiqi

The other day we were at the grocery store. And Chobani, $1! Of course we needed to get in on that deal. The yogurt hordes had emptied the shelves and only two flavors remained.

In front of the yogurt section, an employee had boxes of Chobani to restock. We went to pick out some of our favorite flavors: pineapple, peach. That’s when we noticed the employee visibly annoyed, drumming his fingers as though he thought we should speed up our metronome.

That scene reminded me that sometimes we creators zone in on the shelf and lose sight of our missions: To delight people, to help people, to craft a more interesting world, and hopefully earn enough resources and good will to make something new for our true fans.

The worker could have simply opened his boxes for us and said, “Grab some of these! Fresh out of the box!” That would have:

  1. Created delight.
  2. Saved him time restocking the shelves.
  3. Given us access to choose and buy more flavors.
  4. Shown us the store cares about its employees (enough to instill a sense of purpose beyond stocking the shelf, or even flexibility to work on another task.)

What’s the shelf in front of us?

Could be some arcane detail on how a website is setup. Could be those customer emails and messages piling up in the inbox. Could be any number of necessary and important things, but if they get in the way of taking better care of our crews, it’s a shelf. And that shelf doesn’t care about you or your work — but that person behind you does.

And if that person is you, thank you.

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