When I was a part-time administrator at an Estate Agents, the Lettings Manager passed round a little book called 'Who Moved my Cheese?' by Dr Spencer Johnson. It was a hilarious little tale about some mice who lived in a maze where they were fed on cheese everyday. They were all perfectly happy until one day when the cheese suddenly wasn't there anymore.
The story goes on to describe all the various thoughts, discussions and events in the lives of the little mice, as they faced this puzzling situation. The aim of the story is to show how different personalities react to unexpected change and to events beyond their control. The manager's intention was to use the book as a motivational tool, to encourage his staff to look for 'fresh cheese' and not just sit moaning about how quiet things were. He gave them leaflets to go out door knocking for new business.
Meanwhile, being the sensitive soul that I am, I saw a whole other layer of deep and meaningful stuff in the story! To be honest, I was quietly horrified and very thankful that I don't work in sales anymore and ultra clear why I left that world behind me. This book was actually teaching people how to stay in the rat race, when I was used to mixing with people who were seeking a better way to live! I wondered, like the little characters in the story, who did move their cheese? More to the point why? It seemed like an unkind and pointless little game to me. I never found those answers in the book.
Building on a Firm Foundation
Fast forward to January 2017. I'm now a full-time administrator for a financial planning company. At 8:45am I'm clomping along the frozen pavements of Peterborough City Centre asking myself why I'm doing this. Regular readers will know that this position had brought me full circle, back to the field I was in around 2001, when I'd made a radical change of career direction from financial services towards therapy and personal development training. So now I was exploring the how's and why's of where my journey had taken me, from a well paid financial services role back then, into the fields of therapy and personal development today, and now to this place back in the rat race for some reason! Over the four months of working in that City Centre office, I had gone through a series of revelations and dreadful experiences that left me coping with the job on an hour by hour basis! By lunchtime on Friday 20th January, I was sitting in my car, asking myself why I should go back in there at 2pm. I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide me in my heart. I started drawing a little diagram on the page of my diary. Perhaps this little illustration will help you to make a sound decision about your future too?
In the story of the Pathway Balancing Journey, there is a Gateway called 'The Completed Pyramid'. When I draw this with my clients, I ask them to tell me what their life is based on? What's their firm foundation that their own personal 'pyramid' or life structure can stand on firmly, before they risk going any further or higher? In a maximum of two words, what enables them to stand securely as they seek to build a better life? For me it's my faith and my health. Next, I need to know what the four cornerstones are. What key things are their must-haves for a worthwhile life? Everything else must line up with these key issues for their life structure to take the correct shape. For me it was my home, my church KingsGate, my relationships and my work with Pathway Balancing (PBK) as a therapist & personal development trainer. So as I looked at this little square on the paper, I asked myself, "So where does the full-time job as office administrator fit in to this model?" I drew a long arrow, leading outside and away from the 'Home', because it took me away from there for most of my waking week. This arrow also went in the opposite direction from PBK, leaving hardly any time for a deeply held passion of mine. Relationships? The slightly odd atmosphere of the early weeks there had degenerated into some of the most awful bullying I'd ever experienced in the workplace! Church? The only knowledge and regard they had for Jesus was as a swear word. I concluded, and confided to the Holy Spirit in my heart, that with such a distortion of all I held true and precious, this job could not last in my field of energy or awareness for much longer! Within three hours, it had gone.
Initiation by Fire and the Ecstasy of Freedom
Gateway 19, described in the Pathway Balancing manuals, is called 'Initiation by Fire and the Ecstasy of Freedom'. It's about going through the refining fires and coming out shaped for your destiny by the experience. When clients are considering making an escape - from the rat race, from an abusive or dead-end relationship or anything else - I always counsel then to prepare well. It can be easy to make a spectacular 'Eastenders'-style exit in the black cab. It's how life goes from the following morning that's more realistic. So the model of the 'Completed Pyramid' is a good example of planning a stable structure for a sustainable future. Often we need the refining fires to clear away the residue of the past. These could be false beliefs based on old wounds that are now healed. We can find all sorts of ways to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. That's a good thing. However it's also important to know when it's time for the bandages to come off.
In my case, I'd gone back one last time to the world of money, to see if that was really my destiny after all. I learnt that I'm not a corporate climber - never was. I'm not a sales person either, even though I've been successful in that field before. I'm not even an entrepreneur, even though I've risked full-time self-employment more than once. I'm not really a business woman at my core, even though I've had to learn about marketing, accounts and profit & loss sheets along the way. So who am I really and how can I apply this to get my 'cheese' every day? I read a line in a book by Alan Cohen yesterday that summarised the answer - 'You're a healer not a dealer'. I trust in my God to show me the way. I'm free from a lot of old illusions now, that had obscured the truth. I hope you too can find your firm foundation and escape from anything that doesn't truly sit with who you are designed to be, at your heart and in your soul.
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