Brush With Your Eyes Closed

Ever since my dentist told me to put my electric toothbrush on each tooth individually, then just let it work its magic for a few seconds, I’ve been obsessed with seeing my teeth. Did I get the inside surface properly? The outside? What about the top?

One day, however, I was tired, and when I closed my eyes while brushing, I made an astonishing discovery: It is much easier to feel my teeth than it is to see them. I can brush more accurately if I don’t try to look and instead put my energy into using my sense of touch.

To most of us, sight is our most important sense, and likely also our strongest. It delivers a plethora of information on a constant basis, and it is arguably the most helpful in navigating the world. Naturally, we rely on our eyes by default — but that doesn’t make our eyes the best tool for every job.

The same dynamic applies to tools in every other category: There’s nothing wrong with favorites and defaults, but every now and then, we must be flexible enough to put them aside. Running shoes won’t get you very far when the ground is frozen, and if your stove top looks like a war zone each time you fry a piece of chicken, why not try grilling it in the oven?

You won’t always seek out new approaches right when you need them. It might take weeks until you randomly stumble on a better way of doing. But when you do, will you listen? Are you ready to receive? That’s more important than exactly nailing the balance between innovation and tradition.

Sometimes, a smack-the-forehead idea will land in your lap two hours before the deadline, and sometimes, your eyes will fall shut after years of looking in vain — but if that’s what it takes to finally see clearly, then it doesn’t matter that you’re late. All that matters is that you adjust when adjusting is the right thing to do.