You really should…

Donkey looking downMany years ago, a man and his son set off with their donkey to walk to market. On the way they passed through several villages.

As they came to the first village the people laughed at them. “You are so stupid”, they said, “one of you should ride the donkey.” That seemed like a good idea, so the son got on the donkey.

Then they came to the second village. “How terrible”, the villagers called out, “forcing an old man to walk while the young man takes it easy. The old man should ride.” So the father and son swapped places.

At the next village they again found themselves the object of ridicule. “Idiots!” the people cried. “You should both ride the donkey!” So they both got on the donkey.

But at the next village the people threw stones. “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” they shouted, “crushing that poor animal! You should carry the donkey, not the other way around!”

You can probably see where this is going. At the next village the people told them they should stop carrying the donkey and simply walk to market. So they did.

Different people will always tell you should do different things. You will never be able to satisfy them all. And in this time of change even your own ‘shoulds’ may no longer apply: the world may simply not work that way any more.

Shoulds and expectations are one of the eight types of ‘mis-blinks’ (or mistaken blink-of-an-eye assumptions) that we can all too easily make during a time of churning. Spotting them is the first step to finding a better alternative. And then (as Abraham Lincoln told us) to avoid them you need to know what your true priorities are and why they matter to you.

Once you know this you will be able to go to market faster, the way you want, and without a sore back.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what you ‘should’ do? Is that what you think you should, or what other people think you should? Do you know what your true priorities really are? Would you like to?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building emotional engagement and inspiration during times of change. Buy the Book

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Photo By Frank Jakobi via

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