The Language of Obligation
I once had the good fortune to attend a couple of three day seminars conducted by Breakthrough Enterprises entitled Falling Awake. Lead by a group of exceptional individuals, Falling Awake is geared to the idea of taking full responsibility for creating the life you most want. Many of my columns are informed by the lessons I have learned as a result of the work I did with this organization. I truly believe any professional would benefit from the Falling Awake curriculum and I commend it to you with the highest of regard.
One of the most interesting and useful pieces of information I brought back home with me was their description of the power of language and the way it shapes our reality. According to the life coaches at Breakthrough, we often trap ourselves with language. We use the language of obligation rather than the language of desire to describe our understanding of the present and our plans for the future.
Here is what the language of obligation sounds like:
“I should write a business plan.”
“I’ve got to do my accounting.”
“I ought to take a course in marketing.”
“I really need to start working out.”
The language of obligation is the language of victimhood. Even as we make such statement, some part of our psyche rebels against the implied mandate, and the weight of the task before us impedes our progress.
The Falling Awake curriculum describes a language ladder, and the language of obligation is the lowest rung. What if instead of obligation we adopted a language of preference:
“I want to write my business plan.”
“I prefer to get my accounting done.”
“I really want to begin working out.”
The small shift in perspective sounds completely different, doesn’t it? Naturally the Falling Awake folks aren’t going to leave you stranded there, however. Attendees are encouraged to move from speaking about preferences to speaking about passion: “I’m excited about starting my workout routine!” From there you can move on to speaking your plan and speaking your promises.
I’m better than I used to be about the language of obligation, but I still on occasion catch myself lamenting all of the things I really should be doing and what I’m going to have to do. When we miss the opportunity to shift our perspective to a higher rung on the language ladder, we miss the opportunity to infuse our circumstances and the world around us with the energy of determination and possibility.
How is the language ladder relevant to travel consulting? Like all professionals, we recognize not every task we have before us is stimulating and filled with excitement. Some of the mundane chores in business can act as weights around our neck, piling upon each other to the detriment of the fullest enjoyment of the profession of our choosing. Yet, we have the capacity to shift our perspective to encompass our every task as another opportunity to enhance our practice and be the best at what we do.
Spend some time this week monitoring your language and interior monologue. Keep track of how often the language of obligation creeps into your thought process and betrays a less than energetic willingness to engage your profession fully. With a little practice, you can make a real and permanent shift in your professional perspective.