The Power of Perspective: How Shopping for a Mattress Changed Me


Image from Flickr Creative Commons - JD Hanncock - Little Dudes  

I learned something the other day.

I didn’t learn an interesting fact about another country or how to work some new software program. I learned something about myself, about my job, about my future; it wasn’t life changing but it was important…and that’s what matters. I learned about the power of perspective.

You see, I spent the larger portion of one afternoon at work, not answering phones or responding to inquiries or managing a guest list like usual, but doing research on a mattress. Where was it cheapest? Who had it in stock? What was a comparable mattress to the one we wanted? Do they offer free delivery? Pillowtop or firm?

It was exhausting, annoying and tedious. Not to mention, it wasn’t exactly a cheap mattress and since my employer was supplying this mattress to a white collar employee, it was frustrating, given my current pay grade…

I digress.

After hours of searching and contacting random salespeople at mattress factories and outlets in my state – a surprising amount, actually – we finally made the purchase (got it on the cheap, too!) and scheduled the delivery.

“This is not what I went to college for!” I thought, angrily. It was task work – monotonous and lacked autonomy – and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was unhappy. Dissatisfied. Done. But I did what was asked of me with a smile on my face while I died a little inside with every phone call and “View the Collection!” click. I was ready to go home and complain about how irritated I was with this chore.

Upon leaving, though, I felt no sense of anger, no frustration. Sure, I didn’t go to college to end up purchasing mattresses for my boss’s boss’s whoever. Sure it was a pain in the ass and sure it wasn’t exactly in my job description. There’s the “other duties as assigned.” Thanks, HR. But I got the job done and after I was able to look at it from a different perspective, I realized that from this task alone, I gained a lot of hands-on work experience and helped many people in the process. I learned some skills that could be applied in many other ways at work and in my personal life. Who knew?

The power of perspective allowed me to understand that this task wasn’t about ordering a mattress, it was about learning key life lessons:

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

I contacted tons of salespeople regarding this mattress. In some cases, I got representatives from the company who directed me to another representative, in some cases I got directed to another store, and in some cases, I heard no response. In one case, however, I received an immediate email response from an actual representative. Throughout the afternoon, as I asked question after question, she responded promptly and in full. Ultimately, we purchased the mattress from her. She provided answers, fast…and that was just what we needed.

Lesson Learned: If you have the time, take the time. If you don’t have the time, make the time.  You’ll see results. This doesn’t mean that rushing is the answer. Crafting the perfect cover letter takes time but missing a deadline eliminates your chance at getting noticed. Also, stay connected in your field, network with thought leaders and people in important roles. Sometime down the road they may launch a new project and request your help as a reliable, prompt colleague.

Customer Service is Key

When I called one company, the phone directory prompted me to press 7 for the bed and bath department. The representative who answered, however, was not in this department and forwarded my call to what he thought would be the mattress department. I was greeted by a woman whose accent was hardly understandable and ultimately asked me to “check online.” This was a complete turn off as a customer. The woman from whom we purchased the mattress never once sent me a copied/pasted email. She was prompt, friendly, and informative. The originality was refreshing.

Lesson Learned: People want a personalized experience, not a computer-generated message. As it pertains to your job search, don’t copy and paste the same cover letter over and over again while simply swapping out a few words. When you’re pitching an idea at work or applying for a job, your audience – be it a recruiter, coworker, boss – are your customers. You are selling them something and they deserve a meaningful, efficient experience.

Research Leads to Success

If our office purchased the first mattress I found in the collection and style we wanted, it would have cost us nearly $1,500 more than what we spent for the same thing. After researching, though, I was able to find similar mattresses, similar brands, and lower prices.

Lesson Learned: The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing! Research changes the game. You’ll never know what’s really out there unless you do the research. If you think you’re an expert, look harder. Limiting your job search to job boards and google searches is unacceptable with today’s technology. There are blogs, forums, all kinds of online communities and networks available as resources for your job search. Knock down some doors, find out who the real gatekeepers are for a job and company that gives your life purpose. Find a contact, find an email and get going.

Assistants are Assets

Ordering a mattress is something my bosses cannot be bothered with. They have so much on their plates…and then some! As their assistant, it is my duty to make their lives easier, even when it means typing “mattress companies in my town” into Google. At the end of the day, I am paid to assist in whatever they need and I know that by completing this task, they are able to check one thing off of their to-do lists and I know they appreciate that help.

Lesson Learned: Assistants make the world go round! Leaders: appreciate your assistants and show it. Assistants: reassure your leaders you are there for them, no matter what, by doing an excellent job. Remember, being an assistant isn’t something to be ashamed of. We all have to start somewhere. Assistants, because of their in-depth involvement with leaders, their schedules and their contacts, often have the upper hand when climbing the organizational ladder. If your search isn’t going as planned, consider taking on an assistant role for a company you respect, as it will be a foot in the door and a chance to network with key contacts.

By taking a different perspective on a menial task, I was able to shift my attitude from “screw this” to something that was a benefit for me: “my job is important.” That’s the power of perspective, ladies and gentlemen. Plenty of articles out there bash millennials, the economy, the job market. So it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Take on a different perspective than these articles; take on a perspective that enhances positivity, hope and determination.