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.

At 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 and they walked on.

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 be riding 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 that you should do different things. You will never be able to satisfy them all.

But a ‘should’ is just a rule of thumb — a principle for behaviour that used to make sense in the past. And, in this time of change, the simple fact is that the world might not work that way any more: even your own ‘shoulds’ may no longer apply.

Shoulds are just one of the eight types of mistaken assumption (or mis-blinks) that we can easily make in a time of churning. Spotting them is the first step to finding a better alternative. Then you will know how to get to your market faster, in your own way, and without a sore back.

How often do you hear the people around you say, “You should…,” without really explaining why? How often do you do the same? In this time of change, do any of these ‘shoulds’ still apply?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

You can sign up to daily posts here. 

Photo By Frank Jakobi via

Leave a Reply