This past week I had to put my truck in four wheel drive to get to my house. After the streets had been mostly cleared I thought about turning it off, but found myself glad I hadn't when the parking lot was treacherous. I don't know if or what or how you drive, but driving your truck in 4wd is not at all the same as driving your same truck in 2wd. 4wd provides certain benefits that are undeniable, and you need it sometimes. But it isn't just shifting gears, you can't just switch back and forth on a whim. (although it much easier than the last truck I owned.) And there are things that you can't do the same, like making sharp turns. So every time you start driving you have to do an assessment of what is happening that day, what the weather is like here, what the weather is like where you're going, all kinds of things.
Driving around this week thinking about my driving experience got me thinking about the approaches we take to challenges in our workplaces. Different problems require different solutions and even different approaches. When we set our minds to our tasks, to the biggest challenges in front of us can set the tone. We might not be thinking about how that mindset effects how we approach other problems that we will run across. Like how I'm very happy to have my 4wd on when I'm going up the icy mountain, but much less happy about it when I'm in the grocery store parking lot.
What I found while driving that the single most important thing was to always remember that I was in 4wd. It changed the way I drove around town and the way that I drove when I really needed that 4wd. If I can be aware of the biggest projects I'm taking on and how they're determining the approaches I take on a daily basis I can be more aware of how to approach everyday problems. More importantly, I can be aware of problems, projects, and people that might not respond as well to those approaches and try better to adjust my actions to compensate.