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Wisdom for Life

Try Some New Shoes

Sometimes we are facing a problem or situation or decision and we feel like there’s just no good answer. We go around and around in our head but still can’t seem to come to a plan of action that we are one hundred percent behind.

Might I suggest trying on some new shoes?

No, not in the literal sense, but in the figurative sense. I mean to use your imagination and get in someone else’s shoes: ask yourself what they would decide or how they would act if they were confronted with the same situation.

There are three kinds of people whose “shoes” I would suggest you try. The first is someone who is nothing like you. For instance, if you are trying to decide about whether to ask your boss for a raise, imagine what a professional wrestler would do. Now, depending on your imagination, their response may be spectacularly bad, but at least it will be so different from anything you’ve imagined that it may get you out of your box and consider new alternatives.

The second choice is to get in the shoes of someone you greatly admire. It may be of someone who is a shining example in the area of question– like if you have a difficult business decision you may imagine what Steve Jobs or Richard Branson would do. Or if it’s a moral question you could sincerely ask yourself what would Jesus do, or what would Mother Teresa do or even a respected person you know like your grandparent.

The third choice is to imagine getting into your shoes– ask what the very best version of you would do, the person you hope to someday be, the person that is in there, deep inside.  Appealing to your highest and best motives and desires often opens you to deep truth and wisdom.

Whosoever shoes you choose to try on, don’t give it just five seconds (you wouldn’t do that with real shoes, now, would you?). Really sit with the idea, actually imagine this person being confronted with the situation and imagine all they would ask and think about, imagine what things they would consider and then what they would decide, and then imagine in as much detail as you can exactly how they would respond and act.

Try using this tool the next time you’re making a decision, and you might surprise yourself just how much help trying on some new shoes can be.


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