by Keith Merron (USA)

A man woke up one day to discover he was trapped in a 10-foot by 10-foot by 10-foot wooden box with no windows and only one door. Inside the box was nothing but the old, beat-up chair upon which he sat, and he felt overwhelmed with despair and emptiness. Outside the box was the rich fullness of life, replete with love, family, friends, purposeful work, and all the successes and joys that are part of our earthly lives.

The man sat on the chair, paralyzed by the deeply disturbing, yet vague, sense that during the night a group of dangerous men had abducted him and informed him that he must live the rest of his life in this box. They said they would give him enough food to survive, but if he ever tried to escape, he would be shot and killed immediately by the armed men who stood outside the door day and night.

The man struggled with his thoughts. Was what he remembered true? Was the threat real, or was his mind playing a trick on him? Was he destined to live trapped in the box for the rest of his life? Did the mere possibility of living a free, fulfilling life make escape worth the tremendous risk?  He sat in gut-wrenching fear, unable to make a decision on what to do.

Too often, our personal paradigms bind us in a no-options way of thinking. Within such a mental box, we make choices and live out our lives. While constricting, the box becomes familiar and comfortable over time. We know its contours and its boundaries.

Although the potential for a splendid, freedom-filled life exists outside the box of our paradigms, dangers lurk as well – or so we fear. We worry about losing our sense of certainty and stability, our very identities, and that others might ridicule or reject us. We worry about becoming failures. Our inner abductors “protect” us from these possibilities and simultaneously block us from identifying a more expansive set of choices.

Source: iCN Issue 33  (Wellness & Holistic Coaching); pages 13-15

About Dr. Keith Merron

Keith Merron is the Managing Partner of Leadership Pathways, a consulting firm dedicated to helping organisations with bold visions achieve sustainable high performance and industry leadership. As an organisation’s effectiveness and an executive development consultant, he has more than 35 years of experience assisting executives and managers in business, government, and education.

In the context of his consulting, he works with the C-suite as a transformational coach. In addition, Keith has designed and led over 100 seminars and workshops for leaders. He has helped create some of the most innovative leadership training programs in the country. Through his consulting firm, he regularly offers a workshop for coaches called: The Art of Transformational Coaching. See his website: for more information.

Keith received his Doctorate from Harvard University in 1985, where his studies spanned the fields of human and organisation development. He is the author of five books on human and organisational change and is putting the finishing touches on a new book, tentatively titled: The Art of Transformational Coaching.