I’ve been asked about the term I use – the ‘scenic route’ – and how it relates to the Window of Tolerance. I use the idea of a scenic route to highlight that small, safe experiments do not bring clear and immediate results that move us on in a straight line. Successes can come out of defeats, and vice versa. The route is complicated.
Here is an illustration that I have designed that seeks to throw more light on this one:
Let’s look at this a little closer.
My journey appears to start as I gaze out of my Window of Tolerance (top left). If I prefer what I experience inside my the Window of Tolerance, then I am going to stay put. If I like what I see down the road, then I might want to step outside for a while. It may take sometime to build up the determination to do that. In practice, Models of Change show us that a lot of thought can go into preparing me to make a move. Taking a step along the scenic route, as it is drawn, above, is no easy thing; it can require a lot of forethought; a ‘pre-occupation’ with the possibility of change.
Even if I do step outside, then I might scurry back but if I design and implement a safe experiment that is small enough, I am likely to stay on the straight road. What about some of the obstacles that I meet on the way …… experiences that prevent me looking around the bend? At this point, I may experience a small defeat; something goes awry. If I am close to home, I could scurry back, yet again. If I am determined enough, then I will ask myself ‘what might I do differently‘ to get myself around that corner? I have come this far, and seen a lot of things. Can some actions help me stick with it?
Reviewing progress can help keep a sense of proportion and motivate me to go on even further. I carry on by building on the victories I obtain, and developing greater confidence in the face of small defeats.
Then I hit a very visible obstacle; in the illustration, these are the rocks in the road. I give the example of the times when I appear to create change, but end up standing still – I am blocked from moving on by an illusion of change, or a fondness for standing still. Occasionally, of course, it helps to stand still for a moment. I am at an age, now, when I am only too aware of that!
Even in this situation, I can lift the rocks blocking my way, one at a time. Indeed, I may be helped here by others; journeys are often best taken in company – ask the pilgrims of old about this!!
When the road is clear, I can move on towards an end-point. Once I reach it, I discover that the end-point is only a step on a larger route. That need not be a disappointment: It is only the end of the beginning; as Churchill put it during the Second World War. At that time, I may need to rest even more, and give myself a break before taking the next step!! This is important, as some ‘goals’ have unintended consequences. In the illustration, above, give the example of marriage. For most people, marriage will be an important life event. Generally a large victory. Even so, things can turn out differently and further unexpected change may arise in a separation or divorce.
Another example I give relates to small defeats that turn out not to be so. In my life, I was very disappointed not to get two appointments in the education and training field. Only with time, I have discovered that these were important steps on a very different scenic route; one of them to moved me out of Scotland into re-training as a psychologist. In the other case, I can see now – from a considerable distance – that I was not the best candidate. The successful one went on to do some important things with her life and career!! Furthermore, without that ‘loss’, I would not have had the good fortune to be offered a teaching post in Dundee University – where I met wife, and we have been together, now, for 30 years!
Tell me about your ambitions for a journey to come, if it helps.