Occasionally at work I’ll see somebody walking down a hall, a sidewalk, whatever, and then suddenly – for no visible reason – they’ll stop, turn around, and start walking the other way.
I can think of two causes for this curious phenomenon. First, they realized they forgot something and have to go back for it. Or second, they’re lost, and just noticed they’re going the wrong way. I’ve done both these things myself.
I find these turnarounds fascinating.
All throughout life, but especially in the business world, we try to project the image that we’ve got it together. Somebody may want nothing more than to curl up under their desk and cry, or be seething with fury, or feel utterly confused about what they’re working on, but they still act like everything’s cool. That’s part of being a professional. Hell, it’s part of being an adult.
As a side effect, though, we find ourselves surrounded by people who seem calm, cool, and collected. The only insecurities we see are our own. So it’s easy to be fooled into thinking nobody else has them.
The turnaround is a rare exception. It’s an unambiguous sign of confusion. There’s simply no way, if you turn around mid-stride, to act like you’ve got it all figured out.
So if it happens to someone else, it’s a pleasant reminder that we’re all just human, game faces notwithstanding.
And when it happens to me, it’s a little voice that says: “Don’t take yourself so seriously! We’re just a bunch of hairless monkeys, after all.”