The Secret Power of Choice
In ancient Rome, there was a poem about a dog who found two bones. He picked at one, he licked the other. He went in circles, and he dropped dead. -Devo, 1980
I’ve been stuck on some really difficult challenges for weeks now. I’ve been struggling with a choice, and greatly suffering for my lack of choosing. It’s been causing stress and disagreement for most of the people around me.
The process of choice is simple, right? We consider all the options, weigh the risks and benefits, and then choose the best option. Benjamin Franklin is famous for making a list of pros and cons to make his choices. While Ben’s method is both effective and popular, what if there was a far more powerful way to choose? What if the WAY we choose made an enormous and powerful difference for us, and for our teams? There is another way to choose that leads to freedom, power, and inspiration.
Let’s first look at everyday choices. They often looks like this:
Take this job, or the other?
Invest, or cut costs?
Hire one candidate, or the other?
Develop someone, or fire them?
Choose this logo, or that one?
Coke, or Pepsi?
Go out, or stay in?
Chinese, or Italian?
Speak up, or stay silent?
If we have more than two choices, then we just eliminate options until we get down to two. And then we are back to one or the other, A or B.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this. And none of this is the kind of choice I have been avoiding and suffering over recently. There’s another kind of choice that we very rarely notice. It’s the kind of choice that involves only one option. The most powerful and liberating choice is choosing what we already have. Choosing something that we are “stuck with” is a path to power, freedom, and inspiration.
When we fail to choose something that we have but don’t want (something we are stuck with), we are resisting WHAT IS. Resistance is the source of suffering, it saps our mojo, and it delays innovation.
Consider the 2008 global economic downturn. Businesses and managers that resisted the economic reality paid a heavy price. But, the ones that embraced WHAT WAS, then found ways to innovate, adapt, and many of them soon profited mightily. I saw some friends companies go out of business, and I saw people lose their homes, but I also watched others make millions seemingly overnight. The smart ones chose the present reality, while the others looked for an escape, or asked “how long?”
What do we do when faced with a setback, a challenge, or a crisis? Most of the time we resist and we look for an escape, we hope for some other options. I do this all the time, and you probably do too.
Now think about the people on your team that frustrate and upset you, your difficult business partners, tough customers, and problem products. Where are you suffering, upset, or thwarted? What about your parents, your spouse, your children, your body, or your health? That’s what there is to choose! Embrace the things that you have been resisting or avoiding.
Does choosing mean you will never have anything else? No, not at all. Choosing what you now have is just embracing reality, it gives you power and room to innovate. Choosing what you’ve got is liberating. You have to keep choosing it.
Here’s how you make this kind of choice. Look at what you now have and consider it fully. Now really choose it. Stop resisting what is. Embrace your reality. Say it out loud. Tell those around you what you choosing. Pretty soon, you may notice that you are unhappy again and wishing it was some other way than it is. Go ahead and embrace reality again and choose it, and your power will be restored.
This kind of choice is a declaration (a very powerful kind of language). Declaration put humans on the moon. Our declaration of choice is not a “fake it till you make it” thing, it becomes real in authentically speaking it. You can’t fake choice. You can’t simply say you are choosing something without meaning it, and then have power and freedom. You have to actually accept something by really choosing it, and then you make the choice last by sharing it with others through your speaking. Choice like this is done again and again. It keeps on giving us power and freedom each time we choose.
With the clarity that comes from our authentic choices, we can start to see our circumstances in a new light, and pretty soon new paths and options often appear. Remember though that you can’t pretend to choose in order to find new options. That would be a “fake it till you make it” thing, and it doesn’t work with choice at all.
So let’s look at how this applies in reality with my situation…
I was out for a morning run with my son Jack and thinking about my recent suffering and upset, when I realized that I was simply not choosing my current reality. I let go of my resistance, and I chose all the things I had been resisting. I told Jack about my realization and shared my choice with him as we ran. When we got home, things looked and felt a bit different to me. My thoughts and feelings had changed with my choosing. When the rest of our family got home, I was really happy to see them too. I became much more fun to be around. I tore into my weekend with new energy and productivity. The next few days continued to feel different and much better to me. I kept noticing the things I had been resisting before, but now could see new qualities to appreciate in them, and new ways of handling them in my life.
This is a kind of choice that gives us power, inspiration, and leads to real progress. Choose your big challenge and be free again. Choose the steep grade in front of you and it becomes a hill to conquer, a journey to grow from. You might even start to enjoy your path when you choose it.
Are you dealing with something that’s upsetting or frustrating in your business right now? I’m happy to talk it over with you. Really. You can comment below if you like, or schedule a private conversation online right here.