The 4 things I learned locking myself out of the house


Comfortable while thinking

Last week, I was preparing to participate in a webinar, one I paid to attend. Five minutes before the webinar, I decided to let my dog out onto the deck. Usually, we go out through the sliding door in the kitchen. That day, I opened the door from my office to the deck. It has an upper deadbolt and a regular doorknob lock. You guessed it — I forgot to unlock the doorknob lock.  I unconsciously pulled the door closed, played with Copper for a minute, walked back to the door, tried to turn the doorknob…and my mind started racing.

A few expletives ran through my head. I might have even said them aloud. You’ll have to ask Copper if he remembers. The slider was locked, and I knew all the windows were locked. There was no way in, and my phone sat on my desk.

On the positive side, I’m dressed. Sure, I’m wearing my Uggs slippers (they are really comfortable, and I’m picky). I start down the stairs towards the driveway and run to my friend and neighbor. He’s about five houses down. He has one of those high-tech doorbells that allows him to see who is at the door. No answer. I’m wondering “Is he really not home, or is he looking at his phone thinking ‘Harold’s in his slippers; this seems weird.’?”

I head back to the next house. This time, my other neighbor is home. I tell her my plight and she lets me use her phone to call my wife. She doesn’t know who it is because she’s in her car and doesn’t see the number. I say “it’s your husband and I locked myself out of the house.” She’s 20 minutes away and will drive directly home.

As my feeling of idiocy grew, I headed back to my deck and sat there with Copper, content with lying in the sunspot. I started thinking.

1. If you’re going to lock yourself out of the house in February, do it on a day when it’s nearly 70 degrees.

Take advantage of an unexpected situation and capitalize on it. I sat back in my chair, enjoyed the sun, and cleared my head. While I’m not a meditation kind of guy, I do like to get outside to think. In business, if someone disrupts your business model, what are you going to do? Consider if there are positive aspects that will permit you to take advantage of this new environment.

2. If you’re going to lock yourself out of the house, make sure you have something on your feet.

Engage in some basic risk management. Clothes are always good when you walk outside. In business, we repeat many activities without thinking about them. Take time to review even your most basic processes and determine if any new risks have emerged that require you to change your business-as-usual functions.

3. If you’re going to lock yourself out of the house, turn your loneliness into connectedness.

Embrace the opportunities to reach out to your network. Even though I would be 20-30 minutes late for my webinar, I knew it was being recorded and I could review it later. More importantly, I now had something amusing with which to contact our webinar host and let him know that I missed the beginning of the class for a good reason (almost as good as “my dog ate my homework”). Continue building your relationships with your customers and your network. You never know when one will become the other.

4. If you’re going to lock yourself out of the house, do it with your dog.

Share the experienceHe probably appreciated it more than I did. He got to spend some time in the sun and explore the yard on a beautiful day. How often do you share experiences with your team, your employees, your customers? Are you getting valuable feedback from all of these stakeholders? People love to give their opinions or provide facts that you might not have considered. Don’t take that for granted when you are uncertain about a decision you need to make.

I’m fairly certain that I won’t lock myself out again. I do know that I will take more time to sit in my sunspot, wearing my slippers of course.

Discussion (respond in Comment section below)

  1. Do you wear slippers?
  2. Do you set aside time to think about your business?
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8 Comments On “The 4 things I learned locking myself out of the house”

  1. What a hoot, Harold!I laughed because I’m capable of doing something similar, which is why I installed one of those key-holding gadgets on my deck fence — and tested it a dozen times.

    I’m sure Copper did indeed enjoy his time in the sun, and luckily, so did you … even if you hadn’t planned it quite that way!

    Very entertaining and a great reminder to use what circumstances give us in a positive way if it’s at all possible!


  2. Great Article Harold!

    I have some super flexible Nike Free sneakers that I wear like slippers. Sometimes I wear them to the store and I can get away with it. Sometimes when I’m at a traffic light I close my eyes for a minute and just chill. That’s about as much meditation as I can accomplish. But I have a couple of study groups and consultants that give me the space to work on my business. I highly recommend having a coach to nudge and hold accountable. I bet you are great.


    • Thanks for reading and commenting John. I’m with you; I don’t really meditate, but I can take 10 seconds, breathe, and try to re-focus. I also agree with the point about accountability, whether it is a coach who helps you or some public declaration you make that you’ll feel disappointed about if you don’t fulfill it.


  3. Whether in business or in life, removing barriers encourages freedom, often yielding unexpected insights or interactions.


  4. GREAT read, Harold! Love the way you took a negative and turned it into a thoughtful(and thought provoking)positive.

    1) YES – I wear Uggs slippers; mine have the shearling lining!;

    2) YES – I think about different aspects of my business — different environments work best for me (not necessarily sitting at my desk);

    3) > I sat back in my chair, enjoyed the sun, and cleared my head.
    You have a chair on your deck — in FEBRUARY??? Is that why it was almost 70 degrees that day???

    4) Copper is adorable!


    • Thanks for reading Nadene. That would be nice if the cause and effect of a chair on my deck led to 70 degree days in Feb. I have some old metal chairs that I reclaimed and repainted from a friend. They sit out there all year. And we think Copper is adorable too.


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