I came home from work and opened my front door. The first thing I noticed as I came in the front door was a trail of bright pink post-it note arrows on the floor my granddaughter had placed.
What struck me was the feeling of compulsion I had to follow the path of arrows to their conclusion, which I did. She had placed the arrows on the floor for Granny (Great Grandma) who was coming to visit in a few days so she would know where she had left a card for her. The path of arrows went from the front door of the house right up the stairs to the guest room, across the bed and pointed to the pillow where there was a letter waiting for Granny.
I observed, over the next few days, as others came in, every person who came in the front door asked “Where do the arrows lead?” and many followed the arrows without even thinking. Of course, when Granny finally arrived a few days later her first question was “Where do these lead?”
Signs are valuable and tell us who we are
Life is full of signs. There are obvious signs like the ones we see on the roadside – “One Way” or “Stop”. Others help us to know where we are, like street sign names and signs pointing out directions to go to get to a destination.
During the Second World War, in the south of England, all the road signs were either removed or changed for misdirection in case the country was invaded. Without signs we can be confused and get lost.
In life, like on the roadside, there are signs. They are just not so obvious. Mostly these signs are placed by others. “This is the way to go” or “You are not good/strong enough”. Some of these signs are well intentioned, but can place serious limitations on our ability to succeed.
Making up a new sign
One of my favourite Carlton and United advertisements (for beer) a couple of years ago featured a parade of men divided into categories. At the head of each category there was a sign and it seemed obvious the category each person should be in.
One category was labelled “Men punching above their weight”. In this category there were men who were overweight and obviously not looking after themselves. On their arms were super model girlfriends/wives.
This made me think “Are they really punching above their weight? Or do they have a different self image to the one others may have of them?”
I started a sales job and my sales manager said “Greg, if you are good you will typically sell one system a day or perhaps four a week”. This became my sign. When I achieved that I was happy.
I asked myself a simple question “Why couldn’t I sell two a day or ten a week?” I set that as my new sign and set a new company record – consistently.
Like the feeling I had when I first saw the arrows my granddaughter put on the floor, every sign we have on our road in life places a limit on what we can do.
It is easy to see the signs on the road. By listening to what others say we create our own self-limiting signs. Life is full of people who are happy to tell you what you can’t do, why you should not do or try something. Each time we listen we create another sign. Eventually there are so many signs we can get paralysed with the fear of disobedience.
Today’s question and actions
What signs are in your life? Are they real or imagined? Did you put the signs there yourself? Or were they put there by someone else? How would your life change if you placed new signs on the road of life?
“My weight is normally 80kg” instead of “I have a big body.”
“I sit six appointments a day” instead of “four appointments is what the company requires.”
Have a great week!
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