Everyone has heard the vernacular “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” which means it is difficult to make someone change the way they do things that they have been doing that way for a long time. Or, said another way, it is impossible, or almost impossible, to change people’s habits or traits or mindset. Yet, we all have lessons to learn and ways to improve.

Let me see if I can think of an example…

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Given the simple job yesterday of replacing a toilet seat, I set to the task. No big deal right? Rhetorically speaking, I have done this a million times. Somehow, the seat was completely broken away from the bowl. So with toolbox in hand, I went to the rescue.

First, I had to remove the broken plastic hinges from the bowl so I could fasten the replacement. So I climbed beside the toilet and set to work on one of two sides. The plastic bolts were secured with plastic wing nuts, but unfortunately they were too tight to loosen with my hands, so I retrieved my trusty set of pliers, and from there it went from bad to worse. Which way do I turn this to loosen? From the top, it sounded easier than it turned out, so I tried to position myself below, but the quarters were cramped. Pretty soon, the wings on the wing nut were broken, but I took heart. I can use vice-grips to grip the nut and twist it off. However by that time, turning the nut didn’t do anything to loosen it, so the threads must be stripped. Great. Why do they make these things out of plastic anyway? Without belaboring the point, I caught hope in the fact that I got a second chance on the other side, but the results were the same. Aaarrrggghhhhhh was at least what I was feeling.

So I sat back and assessed the situation. What are my options?

  1. Maybe the plastic will come in handy after all. I can get a hacksaw and cut these off if necessary. Or maybe I could use cutting pliers to remove at least part of the bolt.
  2. Next, I can call my brother Gregg. Goodness knows he has gotten me out of tight situations before. In fact, he is coming up for Thanksgiving. Other than the humiliation I was feeling, this was a great plan.
  3. Let’s see, what would Dad do? There must be plumbers in this ward up here, but who?

As I contemplated these options, I looked down and saw the new seat lying upside down on the floor still wrapped in plastic. Maybe it has instructions…what have I got to lose? So I turned it over, and sure enough, it showed three steps. It didn’t even use words, only pictures. Lift the cap on top, remove the bolt with a screwdriver, and replace the cap. Needless to say, the new seat was in place and secured in minutes. The seemingly overwhelming task was easily completed.

So why have I gone to such great lengths to describe in detail this experience? Because it is not unique. Perhaps none of you have faced the challenge of replacing the toilet seat like I did, or at least you knew what you were doing and followed the directions first. But all of you have faced overwhelming obstacles in life and sought solutions where it seemed there wasn’t any. Our challenges are better overcome by following directions of Someone who knows.

None of us need feel overwhelmed.

Isaiah 1:18

Revelations 3:20

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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