Life Lessons from a Stink Bug

Source: Linda TefendAs often happens with “choices that are not really choices,” I have been inspired. By a bug, of all things. As a result of last fall’s stunning stink bug infestation, I’ve imposed a forced closure of all my home’s windows and doors. No fresh air, no nature soundtrack.

At first, the lack of open windows felt stifling and irritating. Then, two things happened. First, our daughter mentioned that her Columbus, Ohio workplace instituted a no-open-windows policy on account of the stink bug problem. That was validating. Then, I started to appreciate the silent autumn landscape, the way a movie looks when the volume is off. Facial expressions, behaviors and scenery become exaggerated, enhanced. In that moment,

  • I saw rather than heard the rustle of the amber sycamore leaves against the gray sky.
  • My neighbor’s horses galloped silently past the fence at dinner time, exuding speed and joy.
  • The pond shimmered and dimmed, smoothed and ruffled, all without the whoosh of the breeze.

Which caused me to wonder… in our own life journeys, what could we learn if we temporarily turned off the volume? Or simply removed one aspect from an ordinary scenario? What would stand out in starker contrast without the background noise to blur it?

For instance, the other night I was out to dinner with friends. Conversation was lively. So lively in fact, that I could not get a word in, and then I noticed something.

I noticed my desire to get a word in.

Clearly, the others weren’t missing my words or they would have asked for them. Also, what they were saying, when I finally tuned in -- and stopped fashioning clever responses in my head – was pretty darn interesting. I learned stuff.

Another example happened years ago. A woman I knew was stricken with a sudden and serious back injury that required her to lie still for weeks. The resulting seismic shift in her family’s daily dynamics yielded a surprise outcome: more real conversations. Without the ability to flit from task to task and errand to errand, my friend was restricted to being still and having the family come to her. No multi-tasking. No listening with half an ear. She still looks back on that time as one of the most beautiful and meaningful experiences of her life.

So, what if we want to get inspired in the absence of infestations or injuries? After all, personal growth does not need to register a 5.5 on the Richter scale. Here are some simple ways to alter your ordinary daily din, and perhaps gain an insight:

  • Listen to one person today without interrupting, checking your iPhone, or adding your point of view.
  • Follow someone’s advice or idea, then tell them that you did.
  • Be imperfect one time today, intentionally.
  • Give a compliment. Or better yet, take a compliment.
  • Drive a different route to work tomorrow.
  • Wear an old piece of clothing a new way.
  • Pack a pbj sandwich and an apple in a brown bag and eat your lunch outside.

Take note of any changes in awareness. Then, try something else. The clarity you can find simply by changing your normal point of view can be enlightening for your personal and professional lives. I’d enjoy hearing what you try, and what you learn!

This blog post was originally published by Linda Tefend on LinkedIn. You can find the original article here.


Linda Tefend, CMF, Career and Image Coach, is one of Career Partners International - Cincinnati's most sought-after speakers on topics related to career, image and transition. She is passionate about helping and empowering others to navigate life transitions. Linda's fun and engaging style makes intimidating or uncomfortable topics more easily digestible to audiences. Some of her favorite presentations are 'What to do When You're Not in Kansas Anymore,' 'Cashing In on Dressing Up,' and 'LinkedIn and Your Job Search.'


Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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