Thursday, April 05, 2007

Escalator "Autopilot"

For some reason lately, I've been noticing an interesting phenomenon - people who stop walking once they are on an escalator.

I'm sure you've seen it before as well. People who are walking smartly by themselves towards an escalator will immediately stop once they are on it, even when it is completely empty. And some people get annoyed when others try to get past.

Admittedly, some days I too stop because I just "don't feel like walking down." Maybe I'm taking a breather or something. But I suspect the majority of people are not really aware of what they're doing and why. Maybe it's "autopilot", or just something they always do. I think I'm going to start asking a few people, if I can find a way to do it without annoying or scaring people. I can just hear the talk at the local Starbucks lineup - "Hey.. did you see that crazy guy asking people whey the stop walking on escalators... what a nut job!"

Thank god for autopilot though, or else how could we get through the day. Without those things we do and think automatically, every activity would be a chore and take way too much time. But some times we need to stop and ask ourselves questions like: "why do I think this way?" what am I doing?" "why am I doing it?" and "do I want to continue doing it?" Using a different pronoun (like we) it almost sounds a bit like performance improvement.

Perhaps one of the ways we can all better adapt to change is to stop every once and a while and ask ourselves these questions. I good facilitators must always be aware of their own biases and behaviours so that they can work to consciously neutralize them so they don't interfere with workshop / event objectives and skew the environment for participants. I also know that asking these types of questions are closely linked to leadership development and Goldman's Emotional Intelligence. But I see a very close link to facilitating personal change.

Rather than just reacting to what is happening, taking a few minutes to question reactions, to know yourself better, sounds to me like a good change strategy.

So how did I get from escalator autopilot to personal change. Not sure, but it seems to make some sense.

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