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Change: Are you a Driver or a Passenger?

5th Jul 2017
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This year, my partner and I drove more than 2,000 miles to Andorra and back on a tour of Western France. It was one of my favourite holidays ever. I loved the freedom, the ability to choose our own destination unfettered by timetables and fixed routes, to detour and stop at any scenic point to walk the dog (which is how we came to be following a footpath next to a zoo, where Charlie (the dog) was flabbergasted to see a Wallaby!). 

I did all the driving, which is an arrangement that suited us perfectly: I love driving and my partner is only now, belatedly, learning to drive, having never felt the same sense of necessity and urgency to do so that I did when I was 17. 

This got me thinking. I think my strong desire to drive the car corresponds to my general approach to life, and I’m sure my partner would agree. That’s a nice way of saying I’m probably a control freak. (Lou, who proof-read this, questioned the ‘probably’, which says a lot!)

When you think about it, life is a series of journeys. Every change you make or encounter, involves a mental and/or physical journey in some form. 

So, on your change journeys, where do you choose to sit?

In the Front Seats:
When you’re the driver, you not only have a clear view of where you’re going, you can also determine the speed at which you get there and the route you take. When there’s an obstacle or block, it will most likely be your decision about whether you wait in a queue, find a different route to the destination, or turn around and go back home.

Whilst they’re not driving, the front passenger also has a clear view of where they’re going and what’s ahead. They’ll also be able to monitor how fast the car is going and warn the driver when he/she is going too fast or has taken a wrong turn. They’ll also be in the best position, perhaps armed with a map, to suggest alternative routes when problems appear on the horizon. (Of course, how much influence the front passenger has and how welcome his/her input is will be determined by a number of factors, including the relationship between the driver and his front-seat passenger.

In the Back Seats:
Then there are the rear passengers. These passengers have only the vaguest idea of what lies ahead – for the most part, they’re simply in the back watching the world go by in a blur. They have little or no control over the route taken. Their lack of control or influence probably means they won’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the front either – so when the car breaks suddenly, or accelerates, they’ll be the ones whose drink goes flying as they’re caught off-guard. 

There might be a hitchhiker too. The hitchhiker has absolutely no control over the route taken and can only hope that the driver will take them in a direction that roughly corresponds with where they’d like to go. The driver might not even speak the same language, adding to the risks of arriving at a destination completely different to the one they hoped for. 

I’m sure you can already imagine how you can use the car journey to start conversations about change and how we cater for all of the different passengers on that journey, but if you’d like to know how I developed the idea for Trainers’ Library, take a look at Passengers

Metaphors and Reframing are one of the most powerful training design tools at our disposal – encouraging participants to comfortably explore and discuss difficult and challenging issues at work. They can also help to ensure your training is memorable. Best of all, they’re incredibly easy tools to use. Want to know more? Why not come along to my Trainers’ Masterclass in London on the 19th September?

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