WARNING: This is a blog with TMI (Too Much Information). Read at your own discretion.
A few days ago, I was in Duseldorf, Germany. I was there as president of the National Speakers Association visiting our German counterparts at the German Speakers Association Convention. It was a great experience and my hosts were both gracious and welcoming. But, you may be as surprised as I was that they did not serve German chocolate cake even once during my entire visit.
Anyway, at one of the breaks between sessions and after consuming way too much espresso, I ducked into the “toilet” (the European version of a restroom). That’s when I notice a flattened fly attached to the inside bowl of the urinal. While I’m not accustomed to seeing this, it could be perfectly normal as I am not familiar with the landing habits of German flies.
Please note that many of my women readers might not realize that when men are presented with any kind of debris in a urinal or toilet bowl, we are compelled by our genetic predisposition to aim at it. I’m not sure what form of Darwinian survival mechanism this might account for but having been a man most of my life (and a boy before that), I can assure you that it’s deeply embedded in our autonomic reflexes.
So, when I saw the fly, I did what I was innately led to do. I aimed at it. But it didn’t move. Feeling a bit inadequate, I looked around to make sure nobody saw that I missed and my eye caught something in the unattended urinal right next to me. There was a fly in that urinal too. Now I am both intrigued and a bit alarmed. Once the bathroom was empty I leaned over to get a closer look. Turns out, it was not a real fly but a decal. A fly decal in every one of the urinals in this German toilet. Now I’m thinking the Germans are much funnier than they let on.
The first chance I got after I left the bathroom, I asked one of my colleagues about the flies. He laughed and explained that some research project had proved that when men have something to aim at, the restrooms tend to be cleaner. Apparently, we, as a species are less disciplined when there’s nothing to aim at. I was shocked…and thoroughly delighted. It took going all the way to Dusseldorf to find what I believe might be the best example of Do it Well, Make it Fun I’ve ever seen.
Remember that the philosophy of Do it Well, Make it Fun is to seek excellence while making the process fun. With the urinal flies, the bathrooms are reportedly 60-80% cleaner. The Germans (and the Dutch, I understand) are achieving excellence through a fun, funny, and slightly bizarre technique. And if you doubt me, feel free to read a reference to the strategy in this NY Times article: Urinal Flies Work
So, as you aim for success in your life, your work, or even in your bathroom, please remember the urinal fly. Success doesn’t have to be hard. It can be easy and fun. Just remember to Do it Well, Make it Fun…and don’t make a mess.