While I have been thinking about Harold and our conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder if one of the reasons that Harold has been able to be so successful with his vision and execution of his business plan is simply that he started out in a hot air balloon. Harold piloted hot air balloons, and it was his love of this that led him to what he does today.
In coaching, one tool that I often use with clients when they have a challenge, when they are stuck, or when they are trying to make change, is to help them see the issue using a different perspective. Believe it or not, one perspective that often works well is to invite them to ‘get up on the balcony of their life’ or to ‘glide over their life in a hot air balloon’. When this perspective is used, the minutia of the problem disappears, and the problem or challenge is put into a much larger perspective.
For example, sometimes in a person’s life, they find themselves in a job that is not as satisfying as they wish it was, or that perhaps it once was. And yet, with no other apparent job offer in sight, they see no option but to remain where they are. This idea can also apply to aspects of our lives other than jobs. For instance we can be dissatisfied with our fitness, with our sense of adventure, with our obligations to our family etc. Many times, we can identify the dissatisfaction, but we cannot seem to see a solution. It is not that we do not try to see a solution. It is simply that we look for a solution through the same lens that we always use. Typically that means scanning through the rolodex in our minds of ideas that we have already had, and more often than not, we make no change. The roadblock in front of us just seems too big.
This new tool, of ‘gliding over our life in a hot air balloon’ or ‘getting up on the balcony of our life’ can really change how we see things. I have a friend, Sheri, who was in exactly this predicament. She had a very successful job. It paid well. The only problem was that she found that it was taking more and more effort for her to get enthusiastic about it. Privately, she knew that she wanted to make a change. However, the rolodex in her mind was not showing any immediate job offers! Initially Sheri decided to keep her job and to try to start up a company, following a long time passion of hers. It did not take too many years to realize that this was not an ideal solution. And still the rolodex in her mind, and the contacts on her phone were not turning up any clear cut jobs for her. The road block in front of her seemed fairly sturdy.
When I challenged Sheri to get up above her life and have a good look around, here is what she was able to see:
She was easily able to see that if she tried to maintain the status quo she would experience burn out, job dissatisfaction with both ventures, and she would continue with the feeling that she was working all of the time and not spending time with her family. She felt she needed to give up one or the other. Looking around from this height, returning to her original job seemed to be most sensible. However, when she rose higher and could see more, she was able to see what the cost would be of stepping away from the small business she had started. If she took this step away from her business, she felt that the biggest cost would be regret that she had not been courageous enough to take steps toward her dream. She wanted to teach her children to be brave enough to pursue anything that they wanted and she felt that by walking away, she would not be modeling that. But the truth was, from this height she could not really see enough clients to make her new business really viable. So up she rose. From here, Sheri could get a clear vision. She was able to see clients that she had never even imagined before. There were many, many routes around the roadblock that had previously seemed so daunting. She was able to picture her small business growing and changing. She was able to see herself as a confident, successful, business owner. She was able to see herself as someone with courage, a strong work ethic and a big dream. She could see her children watching her. And she could see someone that she was very proud of.
From this height it was easy for Sheri to make the decision to step fully into her little business. Today, her little business, Get It Together (www.gityyc.com) has grown, reshaped and grown some more. Her clients come from all over. Most of them are people that she did not know at the beginning of the venture. They were not on her little rolodex or in her contacts list.
I think that when Harold was a balloon pilot, he too had the amazing opportunity to see his world from high above. From that vantage point, the ‘big picture’ becomes what is important, and the problems seem like nothing more than details.
As you are confronted with change in your own life, I invite you to hop aboard for a free hot air balloon ride so that you can get a clear view of whatever your ‘big picture’ is. Sometimes the farther you get away, the closer the answer appears.
Have a great ride this week!