My Mind Was In The Gutter

Young man on latter cleaning house guttersMy mind was in the gutter recently.

Literally, in the gutter.

When it rained, I noticed that water was over flowing one of the gutters on our house.

“Yikes,” I thought to myself. “My ladder doesn’t reach that far up to that gutter. I guess I’ll have to get someone to help me.”

There is a new gutter and window cleaning company in our area called “Men in Kilts.” The man who arrived to help with me with my problem gutter was indeed in a kilt and did a great job.

And he said something that caught my attention.

“Do you have some time for me to show you something,” he said with a bit of concern in his voice.

“Yes, I do,” I said with interest.

Brian proceeded to ask me questions about another gutter on my house. He wanted to know if I had any work done on the gutter in question.

“Yes. The pins were coming out and my handyman fixed them for me,” I explained.

“Well, it looks like they may have bent the entire gutter when they were making the repair. Did you know the gutter has standing water in it and is not draining due to the bend?”

“No, I did not see that from my viewing angle on the ground,” I mentioned with surprise in my voice.

“You really can only see the bend when you climb my highest ladder and see it from this different perspective,” he was kind to point out.

There it was. That same phrase that keeps coming up in my work with Founding CEOs.


It came up again recently with a CEO I was coaching. He seemed to realize that he and his team members may be lacking in self-awareness and not quite understanding how their behaviors were being viewed by others.

It’s often hard for us to see things from another perspective, just like I didn’t see the bend in the gutter from my position on the ground. As a Founder & CEO, it’s not a luxury. There are times when your decisions and actions are better informed by seeing issues from a different angle. As you know, when you are a Founding CEO, this can be a challenge.

How can you more easily invite varying perspectives when you are busy, need to reach new milestones, and keep your team focused?

Here are a few ideas that you might find helpful:

  • Have your team complete a 360-degree feedback assessment on your leadership behaviors. Maybe the entire team can benefit from this exercise.
  • Invite another CEO friend from a non-competing company to attend a few of your team meetings and offer some insights from their perspective.
  • Use a set of pictures (I like using these) to facilitate the type of conversations and dialogues that get people on your team to exercise divergent thinking through visual means. This is one of my favorites because it is also lots of fun.
  • Watch this TED Talk. Tom Wujec uses the simple idea of making toast to catalyze many new angles and perspectives that many of us encounter on our startup teams.
  • Join a facilitated peer support group, roundtable, or mastermind that allows you the opportunity to solicit multiple viewpoints on the challenges you and your team face.
  • Measure the learning styles of your team members by using a tool like the Kolb Learning Styles inventory and make a proactive attempt to invite members of your team with different learning styles to run the meetings – you’ll notice different focal points that help with seeing things through a different set of learning eyes.

What do you do to ensure you and your team see things through multiple angles?

Share your thoughts below so we can all learn from each others’ experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.