It Doesn't Have to Be "Either / Or"
This or This…
I was talking with a client last week about how he sees the world. It was fascinating listening to him—almost every part of his life appeared to be binary...
If it wasn't like this, then it had to be like that.
His choices seemed to exhaust him.
One was usually nirvana, an unachievable storybook ending. While the other was the 'hard work' option. Something linear and usually slow, effortful, or both.
A Third Way?
And yet, in every single example he brought up, it always looked to me as if there was a third way. An easier option, something he didn't consider to be on the table, or had dismissed as 'impossible'.
It reminded me of something one of my mentors talks about. That, in life, we think we have to make a choice off a metaphorical menu. We debate only what we can see on the page....
... but what if there are many more choices on the menu and all we need to do is turn over the page to see them?
I love that metaphor, not least, because it actually happened to me in LA recently. I returned to a restaurant close to the venue for a training course I was taking and, lo and behold, the menu I was given had a second side to it with many more food choices.
Or at least, I just hadn't turned it over the first time ;-)
Binary = Dissatisfaction
I find that when I'm in a mood of binary choices, of an either / or, I tend to feel dissatisfied with life —that was certainly true of my client. I’m seeing life as a series of fixed choices, one or the other, and neither look that great. I feel limited. Constricted.
But, what if life is more like the menu metaphor. What if there are infinite pages? What if, rather than bemoaning the choices we're presented with, we simply dismiss them and say "next!"
What if we open ourselves up to the creativity of the chef? We say, “OK I’m done with these options, what else have you got?” And we listen until something catches our attention?
What if that’s another way to live life? To wait for the next idea, the next choice?
...You Create Different Choices
I like that kind of life. I like knowing that, if I don't want what's in front of me, the A or B option, I can create another solution. I can find something that feels like a better fit.
Is there somewhere in your life where it feels like you're trapped between by an either / or choice?
Maybe you could loosen the grip a little. Maybe you could experiment this week and see whether some new possibilities come along.
Who knows, you might be surprised by what you experience.