One of my favourite books is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and I read it every Christmastime. I love the simplicity of the stories central message; that any one individual can make a choice to change their life, totally, completely.
I’m sure that you know the story. Ebeneezer Scrooge was an unpleasant individual. He had devoted his life to the pursuit of wealth, the worship of Mammon. Once he set forth upon his path, this life view dominated everything. Activities that distracted from his quest were considered nonsense, frivolous, humbug. His love of money allowed him to justify ruthless, disgreeable behaviour, allowed him to act without any compassion or care for others. He was utterly unaware of how he was both despised and pitied by those who came into conact with him.
Although few of us are as disagreeable as Scrooge, it is however extraordinarily easy for us to become as stuck as he was. Trapped in a behaviour and a mindset. As a coach and a mediator, I have often heard people say ‘that is just who I am’ or ‘this is the way that I do things’. Often, these discussions start with people in very fixed positions. Inflexible, unwilling to consider compromise or change. They have a viewpoint, and they are sticking with it.
It is dangerous for us to think that we cannot change. It can lead us to make decisions, take particular paths and behave in certain ways, without sufficient consideration. It can be a justification, an excuse, a defence. It limits us.
Scrooge was given the chance to change his outlook. Through being confronted with the shadows of his past, his present, and his possible future, he was given the opportunity to step back, to sit outside himself and look on, to reframe and rethink. The ghosts that visited him challenged him and forced him to face his true self. He made a choice, to change.
This is what we do when we coach. We ask people to reflect, to stand back, to consider. We ask them to think about why they do things a certain way and to consider other options. As coaches we encourage self awareness. We present that opportunity of choice, of change, of new. We aim to make people resourceful so they are able to make those changes, those choices.
When I am coaching, I often ask this question: ‘if you don’t do this, what will happen?’ Scrooge saw the answer to this. He would die alone, unmourned. unsung. Few of us fortunately have such an extreme probability.
One of the most wonderful gifts we have is our ability to change ourselves, to start anew. Whilst there obviously is much about our lives that we that cannot, we are in control of our views, our attitudes and our beliefs. Our approach to the very life that we are living. We have choices. Change is possible.
Don’t like something about your day, your job, your path, this plan? Take control and make changes, make choices. Because you can. ‘If the courses be departed from, the ends will change. The shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled.’