More Stories Yet to Tell

Remington PortableJust days after writing about the inventor of Liquid Paper, I came across this typewriter. It’s a Remington Portable #2. According to my research on the serial number, it was manufactured in May of 1924. It was the 813th unit produced that month.

I discovered this treasure in an old warehouse. It was hidden away in one of a hundred boxes with a bunch of random office supplies. I just happened to open the right box – one that countless others had walked right past. I had no clue what was inside; I was just curious and wanted to see what was inside.

As I examined my new device and learned about its origins, I couldn’t help but wonder about its previous owner. Someone had purchased this machine and used it produce … what? Office memos? Legal documents? Letters to loved ones? A novel? Unfortunately, I’ll likely never know. Yet, I picture them sitting over the typewriter, pouring out the creativity welling up from within.

In many ways, the people around us are like this portable typewriter. They have ideas, plans, answers to problems we face every day – all waiting to be realized. There’s a mountain of potential inside our employees and coworkers. All we need to do is hit the right keys, and that potential can be realized.

Managers hire the people they believe hold potential to do great things. We say “yes” to job offers we feel will reward us, not just monetarily; but in even more significant ways. The sense of belonging that comes from being part of a team in pursuit of greatness is what pulls people together. We long to tell great stories.

Unfortunately, so much of this potential goes to waste. We ignore the treasures right under our noses. We don’t listen. We get bored and feel like there’s nothing new to learn. Our attention turns elsewhere, and like my typewriter, we put them in a box. There they sit; unutilized and gathering dust.

We forget about pursuing greatness and settle for mediocrity. We fill our days with mindless drudgery instead of forward progress. The comfort of the known and the safe becomes more desirable than the mystery and risk associated with blazing new trails. We become what we sought to escape.

But it might not be too late. That potential is still inside. Our people still have stories to tell and answers to give. We just need to ask them to share. If we act soon enough, maybe the rust and cobwebs haven’t set in. Maybe we can coax out some of that creativity and write great stories together.

After cleaning the Remington Portable, I fed a piece of paper into the roller and typed out a few words on the keys. A little bit of ink bled out of the dated ribbon, but the typewriter worked fine. I won’t be giving up my laptop any time soon, but something tells me this beauty has a few more stories to share.