Maria Laine with Johnsons

Copresco President Steve Johnson

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What’s Wrong With This Picture

The photo on the left is of a “typical” family? Right?

We have the stereotypical 2.4 children, represented by my three youngest. We have the father, represented by yours truly. And we have the mother, represented by…wait a minute! That isn’t my wife! What is going on here?

Possibilities that come to mind:

  • Steve has dumped his wife and run off with a babysitter. Midlife crisis for sure.
  • Steve’s wife has dumped him, and he’s auditioning replacements to see who looks best in a family portrait.
  • Steve’s wife recently underwent radical cosmetic surgery, which added several inches to her height.
  • The angle of the sun just makes Mrs. Johnson’s hair, eyes, height, weight and complexion look different.

Why do we come up with these outlandish scenarios? We’ve trained our minds to see only what we expect. Man + woman + children = family, so our brains stop right there. Instead of performing further rational analysis, we often insist the conclusion we’ve leapt to must be correct, and then dream up crazy justifications for our assumptions.

The real identity of the woman in the picture? Maria Laine is a delightful school teacher from Hameenlinna, Finland who stayed with my family as a houseguest while visiting the United States on a Rotary Group Study Exchange trip.

I promised Maria that I would mention her in my web column someday, so here she is.

But where is the real Mrs. Johnson? Sherlock Holmes once chided Dr. Watson, saying “You look, but you do not observe!” We could again dream up reasons why my wife isn’t in the photo, but we should always begin with the simplest explanation: she’s the one who took the picture!

The best exercise for the brain is NOT jumping to conclusions. The next time a business problem appears, take a deep breath. Mull over ALL the possibilities. Try to think outside the box. Strive for solutions rather than excuses or blame. Cliché? I’d rather think of it common sense.

We all need a break, but let’s not send our brains on summer vacation this year. They might never come back!

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson, President

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