My coaching moment today is about the experience of choice. In his book, Why We Do What We Do, Edward Deci says, “At the heart of human freedom is the experience of choice.” As a coach, I talk to people in terms of making their own choices and forging their own path all the time. The entire premise of coaching is built on the premise that if you can help people unlock their own, INTRINSIC motivation, they will be empowered to do most anything. It’s surprising, then, that we don’t expect our experts to open the doors of decision making for us – we expect to be told what to do. Research shows, though, that while being told or controlled is the easy answer, it assumes that the promise of reward or the threat of punishment will make the offenders comply. Anyone who has ever raised a child or tried to compel someone to do something knows just how true that is!
However, when we’re controlled or compelled to do something, we act the part, but don’t necessarily live it. Consider this: compliance and defiance exist in an unstable partnership. We’re often told to do it someone else’s way to survive or succeed – yet fulfillment lies in living the most unique expression of ourselves.
A very wise boss of mine once told it to me like this, and I will always remember Neil Saldinger for telling me, “we all operate out of mutual self-interest. The trick is to find people whose self-nterest is mutually aligned with yours”.
John Steinbeck, in his book, East of Eden, says ““But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’—THAT gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”