Thursday, 14 January 2010

Exploring Willingness - What Passengers Are On Your Bus?

This is a great metaphor to use with clients who are exploring ways in which they can follow their values more effectively at work.

Imagine that you are now driving a bus in the direction of one of your values....
Let’s take a value like ‘freedom’. As you drive, passengers climb aboard, representing your experiences, memories, thoughts and feelings. Some of the passengers are nice, but others are nasty and disruptive and keep telling you that you’re going the wrong way, you’re a terrible driver, you’re driving too fast etc.

In my case, following the value of freedom involves facing up to some pretty nasty demons. For example, there's a demon that says that I am being stupid, no one can ever be happy at work. There's another that says I will be a failure, and that I will never earn enough money to do the things I want, and therefore I will never really be free.

The temptation is to argue with them – I’m not a terrible driver! – or to try wrestling them off the bus. Trouble is, this stops you from driving. Or you could try negotiating with them, try a different route, and go off on a detour. But how many times has this actually worked?

We have news for you; your mind’s battle with itself is an unwinnable war.

But there is an alternative. You can choose to accept the presence of the passengers – even though you don’t like all of them - and be willing to have them so long as you are making progress towards your values. After all, if you think about it, are your fears really more important than your values?

This is often a major shift in thinking. But think of the times when you’ve said that you’ll just wait to feel motivated and more confident before you change your life. Have you ever actually been in this perfect position? Or are the fears you have the same ones they’ve had for years and years, and yet still you put your life on hold?

How much longer will you wait? Ultimately the question you must ask yourself is who’s in charge of your bus? Is it your passengers or is it you?