It seems stupid and contrite but when I go to get a sandwich at my favorite deli, I always face the same dilemma. The vast majority of people who make my sandwich put the shredded lettuce on first and then the sliced tomatoes, green peppers, pickles and if I’m feeling crazy that day, the olives.
But about 5% of the time, the sandwich maker reverses the order and puts the small stuff on first and then finally the shredded lettuce.
Seriously our country’s at war and I’m thinking about how my sandwich is made? Yep, but bear with me because there really is an important lesson stuck between the whole wheat roll.
Here’s the deal. When the shredded lettuce goes on first, it really takes up the vast majority of the “guts” or space on top of the meat and cheese. And then when you add the tomato and other fixins it just doesn’t leave much room.
The result… the “fixins” fall out and it’s just a messy experience; especially when I am EWD (eating while driving and yeah I get that I shouldn’t be doing that).
I know that is not life changing or even worthy of a blog post in itself.
But the psychology that I went through every time I got a sandwich was very interesting. You see I was happy when the sandwich was made right, and slightly but really just momentarily frustrated when it wasn’t. Really it did not rock my world if the sandwich wasn’t made right but I thought of all the other things in life which weren’t done “right” by my standards and what if anything I could do about it.
I always wondered why just a very small minority of the sandwich makers “got it right”. Was it a metaphor for overall success in life? Were there other cosmic influences at play?
No of course not, nothing that interesting.
I asked myself WHY people make the sandwiches the way they do. Was it training? Common sense? Because that’s the way it’s always done? Marketing (you know the colorful stuff on top like in the pictures)?
One day I had a burst of awareness and it just hit me. When the person behind the counter asks what I want on the sandwich, here’s what I say, “Lettuce tomato, green peppers and pickles.” And guess what order the sandwich gets built? In the exact same order. Those were the expectations that I set and I got just that.
Of course as a good practitioner of scientific procedures I had to test my theory:
You get exactly what you ask for in life; exactly how you ask for it.
So the next time I ordered my sandwich I didn’t give any specific instructions, I simply changed the order of how I asked. This time it was, “tomatoes, green peppers, pickles and lettuce.” And the most amazing thing happened. That’s exactly how the sandwich was made.
How many other things in life could be completely different (better) just by asking a different way? Would your employees do the work you expect and they are capable of? Would your family start reacting in a way that you expect? Seems like such a simple thing and it is. What could you say differently to get a completely alternate result in your life?