Through our work with our focus groups I’ve come to the conclusion that people are naturally comfortable working at different ‘levels’. To explain further I have developed a shipping analogy. It goes like this:

The lowest deck of a ship is called The Orlop – this represents the simple, repetitive and mundane roles and tasks – filing, staking shelves, waiting tables, digging ditches. To do the job well you often need considerable skill, but fundamentally you are paid to do what you’re told.

Above is The Galley – it may not have port-holes but at least it is above the waterline roles and tasks here can be specialist or supervisory, with some degree skill and independent thought.

Rising up further you come to The Cabins – in business these may be heads of functions where they have real influence and play an important part in the overall business direction. At home it may be managing the savings or the social diary – decisions here have a big influence on family life.

Finally you reach The Bridge – where as captain of your ship you look out at the sea of opportunity all around and must decide what to go for and what to let pass you by.

Throughout the day we are called on to operate at different levels – at work and in our home lives. What I’ve noticed is that we all tend to have a natural comfort zone. I am often astounded by the ingenious ‘reasons’ people dream up to avoid changing levels – everything from ‘I don’t know what is going to happen so I’ll deal with it when it does’ to ‘don’t bother me with the detail’.

Those rated by their peers as being the most successful at managing their lives come from across the spectrum, what they have in common is that they know they must operate at every level, and having been on their ‘bridge’ they know their overall direction and ensure that all their efforts are fully aligned