Tag Archives: Context Shift

My context shift

Have you ever experienced a change of perspective, paradigm, or context so significant that it literally transformed your life?  I have.

While trekking in the mountains of Nepal in the fall of 2009, I was walking with a friend and talking about a potential career change.  I was brainstorming all kinds of creative ideas (new jobs, business opportunities, writing a book, etc.) when he asked the question that changed my life, “Do you need to work?”  At first, I almost laughed at the simplicity and apparent naiveté of the question.  I didn’t know how to respond.  For some reason I wanted to say, “Of course I need to work”, but that wasn’t strictly true.  No one needs to work.  It is, like all things in life, a choice.  So I thought about it and then answered, “I assume so.  I don’t really know.  I’ve never really considered it”.  And so, I considered it.

Answering the question wasn’t easy nor quick.  It was six months before I emailed my friend to answer his question.  I replied that I could, with a reasonable probability, live a lifestyle that would be acceptable to my wife and I, without needing a job.  Notice all the caveats in that statement.  That’s because deciding to stop working is not a simple thing.  Despite what the advertisements for banks and investments imply, it is something closer to an educated guess than an exact science.   For many people, I suspect it is easier to just keep working than to even answer that question.

Although finding an answer took a while, the change of perspective was quick.  I needed only to open my mind to the most obvious scenario, the one that was staring me in the face.  In business cases, the status quo is almost always considered.  Potential alternatives are compared to one another, but also to continuing to do what we’re doing now.  But somehow, I was overlooking this.  Although I was not working at that time, my mind was so locked into the idea that I needed to work, that I failed to see the obvious.  I needed only to see things differently to realize a world of possibility.  Dream Big.

Have you ever experienced a context shift so significant that it changed your life?