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Taking Charge of the Balloon

A man in a hot air balloon, realising he was lost, lowered it to shout to a fellow on the ground, “The wind’s blown me off course. Can you tell me where I am?”

The man replied, “Sure. You’re hovering about 60 feet over this wheat field.”

“You must be an engineer,” the balloonist yelled.

“I am. How did you know?” the man replied.

“Well, everything you told me is technically correct but of absolutely no use.”

The engineer retorted, “You’re an executive, right?”

“How did you know?” the balloonist responded.

“Well, you were drifting in no particular direction before you asked my help and you’re still lost, but now it’s my fault.”

The balloon is a good metaphor for our lives. At first, all we want to do is rise as high as we can in terms of money, position and prestige. Yet as we rise wind currents push us sideways. Eventually, many of us discover that we’re on a very different course than we intended, a long way from the spot we took off from or hoped to end up at. So we blame the wind or anything else.

What we have to realize is that our power of choice is a steering mechanism that lets us respond to each breeze and gust. We can drift with or go against the current. Like haphazard wind currents, unplanned events beyond our control affect the direction of our lives. But, in the end, what we do and become is determined by our choices. The key is to be attentive, to look around to be sure we are going where we want to go.

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