Lessons Learnt from a Humble Shoe Lace


A change is most often not welcomed by most of us, especially when we’ve been doing things be it chores, routines or anything in a manner which we are most comfortable or rather contended doing it for years unknown to us as well. As an individual changing a few good habits and some not so good ones has been quite challenging for me, one because of the resistance to change (most often a conflict), fear of the impact of the change and reasons that are still unknown. While I still contemplate on whether change is good or no, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable I came across this article on how tying a shoelace in the right manner or rather a better way helped shed light on the impact of how good a change can be in addition to the new profound knowledge one gains through small changes. So this is how the story unfolds.

The morning walk with my spouse is a ritual I quite enjoy and look forward to. So to fuel our endeavour I recently bought myself an expensive pair of new sports shoes and disposed off my old walking shows (first change started here). So you may imagine what excitement I had to put them on and start off my morning walk. After 20 minutes into the walk, one of the shoe laces came undone. As I stopped and bend down to tie the lace, I didn’t quite think much about it. Another 30 odd minutes into the walk and it was the second time I saw my laces had loosened out. Now that is what runs through my mind, ‘definitely these are branded shoes from a good store, the smooth rounded nylon laces definitely should be the best, then why do they come undone?’ I somehow wasn’t convinced that there could be a problem with the laces. Does this sound familiar with any of you..??

The shoelaces coming off soon became a regular, recurring phenomenon. This was often interrupting – the flow of the conversation – and the walks of course – to tie my shoelaces. I began to wonder why the folks of this famous brand couldn’t provide better laces, given the high price I paid for the shoes. I simple felt I should go and return it back and pick up another pair all because of the stupid laces. L Meanwhile you can imagine how my spouse’s irritation is mounting up, as I sat down yet again to tie my shoelaces. I can bet he would’ve been thinking “all her life she’s worn shoes and now she doesn’t even know how to tie her shoelaces right?”

Determined to set it right and yet unsure of what I should do to tackle this, I decided to do what all intellectually curious thinker do when you aren’t sure. Yes, you are right I Googled it out. Bingo! I searched for “how to tie shoelaces?” Now Google enlightened me that there are infact two ways of tying a shoelace (and I knew the only one which I was using for years that I have lost count of). Very similar in technique, but very different in outcomes. As you make a loop out of one lace and hold it, and get the other lace around it, it makes a huge difference whether you bring the other lace from above the first loop – or from below it. Bring it from above and you have a weak know. But you take it from below – and you will have a knot that’s strong. There is a weak knot – and a strong knot. Surprising isn’t it? (now this was a learning for me). And as it turned out, all along I had been tying a weak knot for my laces. Armed with this new-found knowledge – and the secretly acquired new technique, I began to tie my shoelaces the new way – and it worked. J No more interruptions in the walk, the laces stayed in place. And as a bonus I now had a delighted husband too knowing that his wife had finally mastered an essential life skill. The shoelace problem is thankfully out of the way now, but the lessons learnt have remained and trust me they are relevant for us all.

  • First, just because you have been doing something for years it doesn’t mean that you have been doing it right. Maybe there is a better way – ever thought so? You just need to be willing to learn.
  • Second, when things go wrong, the temptation to blame others can be very strong (don’t we all do it sometimes?). Laces coming off? It is the manufacturer’s fault! It takes courage to introspect and say maybe, just maybe, the fault lies within. Own the problem and you’ll empower yourself to find a solution.
  • Third, change is hard. Doing things differently is harder than it seems. In life and work or even business, we all get used to a process, a pattern of work, habits get formed and they are hard to change. Acknowledge that. Change takes effort – and time and commitment too.

And finally, it’s useful to remember that small changes can make a big impact. A simple thing like getting the lace from above the loop – or below it – can make a huge difference. It can keep your shoes on your feet and it also brought a smile on my husband’s face (after all everyone wants a happy spouse :).

Next time if you are looking to drive a change initiative be it in your life or at work, think of the shoe lace. Skip the blame game. Take ownership. Start Small. See if there is a better way. Recognise that change is hard. And then, as the change kicks in get ready to appreciate and be appreciated.




6 thoughts on “Lessons Learnt from a Humble Shoe Lace

  1. A lovely write up but I remember reading this one on a WhatsApp forward! Very nice of you to forward that in your blog as I did not mind reading it once again! I suggest that you put a note about the source too!


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