Do you often find that you are focused on a path of action only to find that you get de-toured or distracted along the way? You walk in to a room and forget your very specific purpose for going there and then find yourself doing something else that is more important or urgent! Or perhaps you go out to the shops to get a specific list of things and return home with completely different items that you thought were better? Do you start on one thing and then abandon it only to then try and pick it up again later? Or perhaps you sit down to complete or focus on a task and then find a bunch of bills or other ‘more important’ things to get done first? Or do you even just sit there and ‘think’ and reason to yourself about what, why and how and never get it done?
If you experience any of these things, which most of us do at one time or another then its what I like to call "Jack and the beanstalking". Jack went out, as we all know, to sell the only source of income he and his mother had, a cow that had stopped producing milk, and instead of money, came home with Magic beans!
There are a number of different ways we interpret this story - he had a very specific task to go and complete and came home with something that promised a world of other options and opportunity, huge ask and from his mothers perspective, had been utterly irresponsible! To her, he lost his focus on his goal and bought magic beans that were simply a con! He had got lured in to a vision shared by someone else, and got on board with that. He was distracted from his aims, he changed his mind on what he was trying to achieve. He changed his path. He saw a brighter future of adventure and excitement (and we all know what happened with beanstalks reaching to the skies and giants at the top, stealing coins and the golden goose!). He forgot what he was setting out to do?
or was he in fact finding his purpose?
Was he recognising an opportunity as it stood right under his nose? Had he taken a risk on an idea or the promise of something better? Was he prepared to take on the giants that blocked his way to wealth? Did the beans bring him great joy and experience? or did he simply get distracted and end up in all sorts of trouble because he failed to keep his focus on selling the cow to provide for him and his mother?
Was he just a rock bottom and misguided and disillusioned?
The story leads him to great wealth and security, at some significant risk, and not even by particularly good means (he steals the bag of coins and the golden goose) but this is not the point I see here. He recognised an opportunity in the face of challenging and hard times. As with all fairy tales there are lots of underlying messages on both the positive and negative aspects. We shouldn’t steal granted and ignore our elders or those we look up to. But we also shouldn’t be driven by our fears of the unknown either! Jack took the risk at the risk of upsetting his mother, but it led to security and riches that he could never have imagined if he had merely sold the cow.
Whichever way you chose to interpret this fairytale there are learnings we can all take from it and lenses we can use to interpret. The key here is that whichever ‘path’ you are on then its a matter of being aware of your actions and what is driving them.
So what can we take from this story in our everyday actions?
Are you using simple distraction to avoid doing what you should?
If its a case of this then its because you havent got your goal or action and desired result clear in your mind and what and why it is beneficial to you. Get specific. chunk it down and keep asking why and what specifically it is that you want to achieve until you can’t answer that question any further.
Procrastination and excuses?
Is the bigger task or action of ’selling the cow' too overwhelming? Do you have the right knowledge? Do you fear making the wrong decision? Are you avoiding the work that it will entail afterwards that this task will create? Are you doubting if ’selling the cow/ buying magic beans’ is the correct course of action?
Whatever your doubts or fears are that are driving the procrastination, its about getting clear on what and why you are following that course. Without this, procrastination sets in and, everything else will take priority until you have clarity about what is holding you back.
Bigger ideas and dreams?
Fulfilment in our lives is something we all seek. Adventure, a different life perhaps or even getting out of the daily grind and doing something you love, are all elements to this. If you are like Jack and believe that you have untapped potential and have a greater cause, then be open to opportunities and embrace them.
Do you let the giants stand in your way?
90% of us fail to recognise opportunities passing us by on a daily basis, or even worse, see the opportunity and let it slip us by knowingly! We fear making change, we fear being judged, we fear other impacts that may create a tension or cause discomfort in the short term. We fear putting in the effort to do something different, bold, brash or new. We fear the giants. We fear climbing the beanstalk and putting in the effort. We stay in our comfort zones - nothing changes!
Sometimes we have to believe in the magic beans; they are our dreams, our goals and what will bring us what will fulfil us or create new roads to knowledge and learning. ‘jack and the beanstalking’ behaviour is not always a bad thing. It can be a way of testing or challenging our current reality and what and why we are really doing something. But recognise it, face and question what is blocking you or why you are avoiding something and whether it marries with your goals, vision and opportunities. Don't let the giants prevent you from sowing those seeds and creating the life of your dreams.