There’s a joke that’s been stuck in my mind for days now and I think there’s a good reason. An elementary school was having some difficulty with their teen girls. Some of them had recently started using lipstick and they liked to show off by leaving kiss prints on the bathroom mirror.
This caught on and pretty soon the mirror was covered with lip prints every day. The principal made several efforts to make them stop, but nothing she did helped. The janitor told her he had an idea and to bring a dozen popular girls into the bathroom. They get in there and of course the mirror is all covered with lip prints.
The principal says “Girls, I just want you to see how much extra work you are creating for Mr. Johnson, the janitor. This is what he has to do to clean all this mess off the mirror.” Then the janitor takes a long handled brush, calmly dips it in the nearest toilet and begins scrubbing the mirror. They never had a single lip print on the mirror again.
This story, in it’s own yucky way is a very elegant solution to a problem. It creates a permanent solution to a pesky problem with a minimum of effort. I call it the “Disneyland Solution”. At Disneyland, they don’t post signs saying “don’t walk on the grass” or “don’t sit on the railings” – instead they simply make it inconvenient or uncomfortable by cleverly engineering the way things are laid out.
I’ll share with you a couple of clever solutions I have come up with in in my own life. When our middle son, Matt was a baby, he had a pacifier in his mouth ALL the time and it was driving my husband crazy, so we came up with our own “Disneyland Solution”. We gradually narrowed it down to just one pacifier. Then we took that last pacifier and used a little piece of yarn to fasten it around the neck of the biggest, bulkiest stuffed animal we could find. Then we just waited for him to get tired of lugging it around. No drama, no tears. We just waited for his arms to get tired. In less than a three days – problem solved!
Then, a few years later, we were worried about this same kid because he was having problems with his reading. The Disneyland Solution: I went to the library, picked up a bunch of books I thought he would like and then casually dumped them in the backseat of the car with the following pronouncement “Don’t touch them, they’re your brother’s”. Problem solved! He nearly ripped the covers off in his haste to see what they were all about.
Think about all the pesky little problems we have in our lives. How can we come up with some “Disneyland Solutions” to solve some of these problems? As Earl Nightingale says, “Ideas are our most valuable resource. They’re free, everyone has them and some of them are excellent.”
One of my pesky problems is being late to work, mainly because I like to get into the shower and zone out, or waste time on the computer in the mornings. So I came up with a clever solution. A couple of them actually.
To shorten my showers, I set a timer for 15 minutes (yes, that’s a SHORT shower for me!), then I set out a load of laundry. When the time goes off, my son Blake gleefully puts the laundry in the washer. If I’m not out of the shower by then, I get a nasty surprise in the form of freezing cold water. I’ve been on time for work every day for about two weeks and I have a LOT of clean laundry! (The dishwasher works too in case you run out of laundry)
The other thing I do is tell Blake I’ll pay him a dollar if he catches me on the computer in the morning. I got that idea from our pastor. He was tired of always yelling at his four kids, so he told them that every time he yelled at them, they got to fine him a dollar. With four kids on a pastor’s salary, that can really add up. It’s silly, but it really works. It’s just a trigger to make you more aware of your daily behavior.
So I modified it to fit my problem. I couldn’t get my kids to remember to make their beds, so I told them if they didn’t make their beds by a certain time, their brother would be happy to make it for them, but they have to pay him a dollar! Suddenly the beds started getting made just like magic….
Let’s hear some of your Disneyland Solutions!