So you’re facing a decision.
It may seem HUGE to you, or it might be insignificant. But there’s no getting away from it, you have to make a choice. To NOT choose is to make a choice. The trouble is, you have absolutely no clue as to how to proceed. You’re struggling. This is hard. Really hard. So what do you do?
Talk to mentors…
Find someone who is older, wiser (not always the same) and ask for some perspective. Choose someone that has nothing to do with your job or your company. This allows for some objectivity that you might have by being so close to the situation. Consider seeking input from more than one person in this category.
Write it down…
Take out a piece of paper and make 2 columns. Label one of the CHOICE, and the other one CONSEQUENCES. Then spend some quiet and uninterrupted time thinking through what all of your options are. After you’ve built a comprehensive list of the choices you could make, then go back and list out beside each of them what the consequences or fall out to each choice might be.
Think out loud with a co-worker…
CAUTION! Be incredibly careful if you choose to do this. You have a right to ask for an expect confidentiality, but consider the consequences if the person you choose to put confidence in betrays your trust. If it could cost your job, it may not be worth the risk. Also be confident that in seeking input that you are not undermining the authority of a supervisor or boss by confiding in a co-worker. No one wins when that happens.
Pray or meditate…
yes, I said pray. Whatever your spiritual background, some quiet time in prayer, meditation or contemplative thought can do wonders for bringing clarity or a fresh perspective. Our minds are constantly bombarded with busyness and chaos. When we’re able to allow the smoke & chatter to clear, many times the best course of action seems to appear from nowhere.
Do a gut check…
More simply put, make sure that whatever decision you may be making is one that you can live with. That face you see in the mirror will still be there tomorrow, and your core values and priorities in life need to align with both your personal and professional choices. Life and reputation… but are short, valuable and can be undermined with one really bad decision. Choose well.
Sleep on it…
There’s nothing like a good nights’ sleep to clear away the cobwebs of doubt or uncertainty. Your mind makes better decisions when your body is rested. Very few decisions in this life have to be made immediately. If it’s at all possible, give yourself at least one good night of rest so you can make a healthy and clear headed decision.
Decisions are still not easy, even with the tips listed above. Hopefully the suggestions will give you the time, tools and input you need to make decisions that you can live with, and live happy with!
What decisions are the most difficult for you?
Why do you think those are the hardest?
What a fine ship she was… from stem to stern, she was the envy of the fleet, the finest ship whose bow ever split the sea. Before her, many had sailed; early visions, yet mere whispers of what she was to become. Multitudes would try to duplicate her style, her grace, her form. And though some attempts were more valiant or fruitful than others, none would ever make her equal.
But what is a ship? A tool, a grand means to a passionate end. Visions glorious and dreams courageous are among her cargo, but she does not own them. No, these belong to her Captain. He is the one who once did cast a steely glance to where sky meets sea, and believed there was more; more just beyond that shimmering edge where most men fear to cast their eyes. And so sails unfurled and billowing, her bow into the wind, this ship and her Captain set out toward this new horizon, this distant union of heaven & earth.
We have been his crew, you and I. Uncharted waters were no place for the timid. Nor was serving on a ship whose Captain’s food was his dreams. For sailing virgin waters meant opening ourselves to new adventure, obstacles, and even risks. Still we embraced the danger, because his dreams were contagious, infecting each member of the crew, until our own dreams grew like a fever. Our only relief came as we allowed the dreams to chart our course towards the horizon.
Oh, the places we’ve been! Captain, did you know? Did you know the places we would venture? I think you knew a portion. You saw through life’s dim glass a little more clearly than the rest of us most times. But even you were surprised at turns along the journey, dazed and delighted all at once by the ecstasy of the experience we shared. And we laughed together.
I, one among many, am so proud to have been among his crew. How many lives have been altered by his passion? So many of our worlds have been changed because he led us courageously. When the waves have passed, and all ships one day sit in port or lay in a watery grave, you and I will still remain. The truth, the experience, the window of life we have shared will still remain.
And the differences in others that we made along this journey will still remain. The difference his life made in our lives will still remain.
So many things we’ve learned from our Captain, eternal things, life-changing truths. He taught us that no matter when or where you wake up in the morning, the horizon is still out there… It still challenges us to reach beyond our societal and self-imposed limits. Our Captain taught us the golden rule of the sea…
to set our ship towards the goal, and to fix our eyes on the heavens for direction.
But most of all, he taught us that although the ship is grand and glorious, it is the journey and what we do along the way that are truly magnificent!
Another sunrise breaks the surface of the concrete horizon. This day will be much like the day before, and the one before it. Rising from his slumber, he growls his disapproval. A barren cubicle,almost sterile in its vacancy. Slowly and grudgingly he moves towards the food laid out before him. He eats, then stops. A momentary pause as he lifelessly absorbs the movement around him. Then swallowing his final bite for the morning, he moves away from his dish. Full, but not content.
With the sunlight blazing across the early sky, he now has a clear view of the city, and the bustle of activity by those around him preparing for the day. Their lives seem so different from his… exciting- vibrant- free. Being locked away in this dull existence feeds the loneliness and rage. Thousands will come and go, passing this way. Some will be curious, others will poke fun; some won’t even stop long enough to notice him… but all who come, also go. And he is left alone again at the end of the day, pacing back and forth in this bleak chamber.
Each new dawn brings the same experiences. Feeding, followed by a senseless effort to find a way out. More feedings, and the uninvited intrusions of others. Then comes acceptance and bitter resignation to his fate… and finally day is complete as he dozes off to sleep, with isolation and confusion his only companions.
This is not what creation’s clay is intended to be, or how it is to live. From the first days in the Garden, each day of life has within it the promise of hope, the expectation of absolute freedom and exhilaration. Each creature, fearfully and wonderfully made by Eternal Hands, uniquely contributing to the beauty of nature. For this jewel of heaven’s handiwork to suff
er in captivity is not only miserable, but senseless. And still, day after day the same scene plays over again.
Once more, over the rooftops and through the window panes the sunlight makes its early morning arrival. And just like each day before, he rises from his restless night of sleep. The phone rings. “No sir, I won’t be late today,” he assures his boss. Next door, an unhappy couple silently nod as each leaves for work. Across the hall, an elderly woman cries as she faces another empty day.
You see, a cage is a cage even if there aren’t any bars. There’s really no difference between being hunted and chained, and feeling hopeless and trapped. Lions and tigers are not the only ones who live in captivity. People all around you sense their own feelings of confinement, of isolation, of no real freedom at all. So look very hard when you stare through the fence into empty eyes… they may be your own.
Mayo Angelou was more than a poet, more than a teacher or an author. Her insights on life, love and facing the challenges in life qualify her as oracle in her time. When we consider the great thinkers of the past, we often hear lofty challenges to self-sacrifice and reckless abandon. Their calls to action beckon us to risk all, give all in pursuit of our dreams. There are desperate, challenging times that ask this of each of us if we want to survive, or demand it of us if we expect to thrive. But it’s not always Olympic grade challenges that we’re called to face in the critical moments of life. Some days the problems are simply one day bigger, one month larger, or one year grander in their intensity. So how do you handle those challenges?
Each of us is on our own journey. Much of Maya Angelou’s writings reflect this perspective. Based upon our position along the path of that journey, our skills, gifts, and wisdom reflect our strengths and our experience to that point. Ms Angelou once said, “I did then what I knew to do. Now that I know better, I do better”. Life truly is our greatest teacher, and it’s lessons are eternal. The real question we face is this… Will we learn the lessons as they come so that we can “do better” the next time, or will we refuse to listen, learn and make the changes we need to become the change agents the world needs?
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” Muhammad Ali
Do you know better now than you did thirty years ago? I hope so. Are you viewing the world, are you acting on the world differently than you did thirty years ago? The world hopes so.
So make the choice. You know better… so do better. Be a Champion!
What advice would you give someone about learning from our past, and making the best choices in life in the present?
For your entire life there have been critics, bosses and managers you have answered to. “I don’t think you can fix this”, “Don’t even think about it”, & “Here’s another project that even you can’t screw up,” may have been among the verbal barbs thrown your way.
Bad leaders use language and tactics to manage by fear and control. They may not even be aware that their style is based in a deep rooted insecurity or fear of incompetence on their own part. No matter the reason or reasons, there’s no place for “leadership by intimidation” in a healthy workplace.
If you’re one of those kinds of leaders, would you do the rest of us a favor? Stop it.
We’ll even offer you several choices on how you can stop it.
- Shut up. Harsh? Yes. But you’re insecurities being vomited out on those you lead isn’t helping. Zip it.
- Grow up. The pettiness and grade school antics in the business world are mind blowing. Leave it in your childhood.
- Go away. Give people some space. Hateful helicopters don’t increase productivity. Step away now.
- Get some help. Seriously, talk to someone who loves you but isn’t impressed by you. Ask for honest evaluation of you.
- Get a grip. Take a breath. Life is too short for “lid flipping” over little stuff. Geesh.
No one has a right to crush your spirit or crush your dreams. It doesn’t matter if they manage your team or manage a Fortune 500 company you work for. Stop for a few seconds. Compare the importance or value of the negative firestorms of a bad boss to these things:
- The love of your family
- The amazing possibilities of life in front of you
- The taste of great BBQ
- A beautiful spring evening at the ballpark with friends
- Special life moments with your children
- A quiet moment enjoying your faith and spirituality
Has anything that your horrible leader has said matched up in importance or quality to anything on this list? No? I didn’t think so. Does that mean those times will never happen again, or that you’ll never be on the receiving end of someone else’s emotional impotence? Nope. It just means now you know what voices matter.
What will you do the next time you find yourself on the end of a “bad emotional beating”?
How will you keep the perspective that you know is real?
How bad have you had it?
How well are you doing now?
Have you told the truth yet?
Either way, the only person standing between you and actually
being better, doing better, owning better in the future…
So be honest.