You really should…

Donkey looking downMany years ago, a man and his son set off to walk to market with their donkey. 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 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 that you should do different things. You will never be able to satisfy them all.

Better, surely, to do it in the way that is right for you?

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

Shoulds are just one of eight types of mistaken assumptions (or mis-blinks) we can easily fall into during times of churning. Learning to spot them helps you find a better alternative, and so get to market faster, your way, without a sore back.

How often do you hear the people around you saying, “You should…” without really explaining why? How often do you do the same? In this time of change, doesn’t it make sense to check whether these ‘shoulds’ still apply?

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

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Photo By Frank Jakobi via

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