Our cars have been parked on the street for years.
When we first moved into our house in 1989, we parked both cars in the garage.
A few years later, only one car would fit.
Today, our garage is full of our junk AND our kids' junk.
Every time they move, they "store" some of their furniture in our garage.
Once a year we order a dumpster and fill it to the brim.
Unfortunately, we need a very big dumpster if we ever want to get at least one of our cars back into the garage.
Ellen and I always struggle to throw away our junk.
I'll throw away things I consider to be garbage only to find them in the corner of the garage a day later.
One time I threw away an old basketball and soccer ball that had seen better days.
Ellen dove to the bottom of the dumpster to rescue the balls.
"I want to save these for our grandchildren" she said.
The problem was our kids were in middle school at the time and we were about 20 years too early to be saving things for our grandchildren.
I'm no better.
I'm saving some old pots and pans from our family restaurant that closed in 1981.
"I may use these someday."
Our neighbor is a doctor and drives a top-of-the-line BMW that won't fit in his garage.
He also has a beat-up 1980 VW bus he parks in front of his house.
This bus has seen better days.
It's full of dents and rust.
It backfires every time he starts it, and a plume of smoke fills the neighborhood.
Why can't we let go of our junk?
This month, we're reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely in our Mastermind Book Club.
Ariely identifies why we fall in love with our junk and can't let go. Here's an excerpt from his book.
Wouldn’t it be nice, for instance, to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, and an Armani suit, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? In his research, he identifies three “quirks” of ownership.
The first quirk is that we fall in love with what we already have. Ariel postulates: Suppose you decide to sell your old VW bus. What do you start doing? Even before you’ve put a FOR SALE sign in the window, you begin to recall trips you took. You were much younger, of course; the kids hadn’t sprouted into teenagers. A warm glow of remembrance washes over you. This applies not only to VW buses, of course, but to everything else. And it can happen fast.
The second quirk he identifies is that we focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. When we price that beloved VW, we think more about what we will lose (the use of the bus) than what we will gain (money to buy something else). As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.
Finally, his third quirk is that we assume other people will see the transaction from the same perspective as we do. We somehow expect the buyer of our VW to share our feelings, emotions, and memories. Unfortunately, the buyer of the VW is more likely to notice the puff of smoke that is emitted as you shift from first into second. So where does this apply in business? We must look at the world through our customer’s lens. We must make sure we see it from their perspective and not to get upset if they call our baby ugly.
I feel better now.
Join the Mastermind Book Club (it's free!) and jump into this month's discussion.
What are you holding onto?