Options expand our potential for growth and fulfilment
November 14, 2016
I like options - options in my life - like a buffet for breakfast or a container of spare buttons, shelves of books and CDs or a packed wardrobe of clothes and shoes accumulated over time. I like the feeling that I have choice and variety and range to compare, consider and draw conclusions from.
For me, there is great power and freedom in options. So depending on my mood, the weather, the situation, who I am with, the desired outcome or just what ever takes my fancy, I have choice and autonomy to select.
I don't just like options - I am passionate about creating options and helping empower others with this fundamental right of free thought and decision making.
When I was around 10 years old, there was a song on the radio that caught my ear, though more importantly spoke to my inner-self and resonated with some already founded preferences and values. It was sung by Harry Chapin and was about a little boy who had to move from one school to another.
Before looking at the actual words, what I recall most is a sense of what fairness and freedom of thought means and how it impacts us. When I recall the memory, it is always the way I felt about the story of the song, my awakened awareness of power, human rights, belief and diversity.
So this little boys starts with a teacher in his first school that wants to control the boy and what he draws by telling him that "flowers are red young man and green leaves are green and there's no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen", though this little boy declares that "there are so many colours in the rainbow, so many colours in the morning sun, so many colours in the flower" and he sees every one.
Given his insolence, the teacher puts him in a corner and sees his independent thinking as sass and in time, the young boy conforms to her views as he is lonely and frightened by being isolated from the rest of the class... Even now, writing this, my stomach drops and my eyes well up, just like they did when I was a child.
The boy moves to another school, where the teacher there is all in favour of multi-coloured flowers, though the boy by now has been so indoctrinated in his formative years, that he declares that "flowers are red and green leaves are green" and he has lost the ability to see the way he used to.
Apart from being fortunate to have been raised in a liberal environment, I have also had wonderful opportunities to develop new skills, learn things about myself by attending different training courses over the years, having great mentors and coaches and from living in different countries and by having a diverse and extended network of family, friends and amazing colleagues.
For me, this has informed and extended my thought and response options that I can access or leverage or explore when time and the situation requires it. I think back to the flowers song and how the little boy started life seeing options in colours and flowers, though how situations can change and influence us.
I know I too have conformed at times to situations, institutional codes of conduct and culture, expected behaviours, client demands and just being lazy and following the path of least resistance. However, the awareness I have about my skills, preferences, personal traits, beliefs and values has also meant that I have been able to recognise these situations and make conscious and informed decisions leading to action.
Having goals and always looking to further develop ourselves, builds our options, potential and creates the art of the possible and that is exciting and empowering...
Let's make sure we are doing our best to see the colours in the rainbow and in the morning sun, for ourselves and those around us.