Pick a Door, Any Door

In oneself lies the whole world
and if you know how to look and learn,
the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key
or the door to open, except yourself.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Remember Monty Hall and Let’s make a deal! ? For you youngsters, this was a super popular tv game show that started in the 60’s hosted by Monty Hall for three decades! There are still versions of it around. But there is nothing like the original! Audience members would don outrageous costumes to be selected to play the game. The suave Hall would offer you the choice of three garage sized doors. Behind Door #1, Door #2 and Door #3 were “prizes”. One of them always hid a “brand new car!” It is a game show so there was lots of hoopla and drama but everything came down to the choice—which door do you want and which door do you want to keep?

Nothing has been revealed to this point—just Vanna White like figures gesturing to these doors. And finally a door is selected. Your door. This is where the fun begins. You have selected Door #1 based on your intuition, confiding in your companions and the cheering of the studio audience. In other words, the way we make most decisions. 😊 Monty announces he will show you what’s behind Door #3 before you confirm your final choice. There is a donkey, a live donkey behind Door #3!

So now you have Door #1. There’s a “brand new car!” behind #2 or your door. Do you keep the door you have that you’ve chosen, your favorite door or do you switch? Probability vs luck. Facts vs Intuition. What is the mathematically correct thing to do? The smart choice? There has been controversy and mathematical analysis over this but the pure math is super clear. (read about it here)

You always switch. It doubles your chances. The point of this analysis that I’m bending for my own purposes, is to show that switching doors is really hard. Our emotional attachment to our own past decisions, and our comfort level with the current door are the sources of friction to change.

Are you saying we should all become door switchers?


If the bigger prize of a happier you, a more aligned you, a you, that is connected to who you are—then let the door exploration begin! How many doors? As many as it takes.

You have to come to your closed doors before you get to your open doors… What if you knew you had to go through 32 closed doors before you got to your open door? Well, then you’d come to closed door number eight and you’d think, ‘Great, I got another one out of the way’… Keep moving forward. Joel Osteen

But what door are we looking for? There are clues that have always been there. There are things that are generating intellectual and emotional heat within you. Dreams of your childhood. These are difficult to fully express, so seeing examples, understanding possibilities, finding the words are often hidden behind doors right in front of you.

But we can’t keep settling.

Are you in the groove or a rut?

Some of us we may think it is too late or we are too old to “re-invent” ourselves. To seek our truth.
I talk to current college students who have thrown in the towel before their lives begin and middle aged executives who are not near the end.

We know in our hearts, that it is never too late. That making a change is still possible, and I would argue necessary.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark. Michelangelo.

Meet a lot of people in velvet ruts. Lawyers, engineers, students, financiers, entrepreneurs, executives but also government officials, big corp managers, and even non-profit employees who have been sinking into the soft pile of velvet in their worlds. Mind you, the silk quality, the fiber count, of the velvet varies enormously. But the ruts are deep and comfy.

Our courage to embark on door knocking, door openings, and door exploration is dampened by our cozy velvety worlds.

During one of my coaching sessions, I made up an exercise. I’m now calling it the hypothetical door. I was talking to a young man who was confused about his choices and options for his future. He had recently decided to leave his job, after multiple conversations about the factors that were contributing to his lack of satisfaction with his current career path. He concluded that his current direction was a spiritual, financial, and personal dead end. He wanted to make a substantial change to a completely different sector. It will require some rebooting retooling and changes to his life. We determined his base salary needs and we started to discuss what his options would be. I took him through a basic process of trying to ascertain his needs his wants his inner desires to let that process emerge. But he was stuck. And unable to articulate what he wanted.

I said, “pick a hypothetical door”— A possible future door of your career that would give you what you want. Fulfill you, satisfy your desire to have greater meaning and purpose in your life. Pick a door. Start to describe the door. What’s beyond that door? Start to describe what that door looks like. What it feels like, how much money you make, what you would be doing on a day-to-day basis. Not a title, or the name of the employer unless you know it. Its just a process–describe a door!

I’ve used this now in some workshops with surprising results. On one hand it puts pressure on people to just pick things to make choices to ideate and not get caught up in the anxiety of commitment. It is hypothetical!!!!

In one of my workshops, part of a larger conference, there was a young man named Douglas, who could not even describe a door! He had trouble using any words to describe what he might do next. And we told us that he needed more time, like that person at the restaurant who wants to study the menu and wants to order last. So we went around the rest of the class and were treated to the many interesting doors! At the end, we returned to his door. To our collective surprise and delight, Douglas described a door with enthusiasm and passion.

Here’s the kicker. The participants of all of the workshops were invited to attend a virtual networking breakout session at the end of the conference. I attended. In my breakout was Douglas and a couple of other attendees to my sessions. We went around the room for the intros and Douglas led things off. He used his hypothetical door as a stellar introduction! One of my other students who had been with Douglas chimed in, “Douglas that was an amazing hypothetical door!” And that started a whole conversation about the purpose of hypothetical doors with the group.

So many doors so little time.

Are you going to keep your door or trade it for what’s behind the next door?

Let’s help each other describe and find the keys to our doors.

Thanks for reading. 

Amazing exhibit of doors at the Rosa Parks Museum I visited in 2018. Do we just open the doors that let us in?

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