Let me start by sharing these words of wisdom from Tom Tobbins (in his book Still Life with Woodpecker); “Choice; the word upon which all adventure, all exhilaration, all meaning, all honor depends. In the beginning was the word, and the word was choice.”

A few years ago, I read this book which really rocked my world – The 13 Secrets of Power Performance by my speaker & author colleague Roger Dawson. I read it twice. I agreed with 12 of the Secrets, but I had a hard time with secret number three – Power Performers know they always have choices. “Each of us is where we are because of the conscious decisions we’ve made. It’s impossible to be doing anything other than what you choose to do.”

I just could not swallow it whole. So I left it alone for a while and read other books in the meantime. After realizing they all supported Roger’s point of view, I went back to Power Performance and read that chapter a fourth time, and I got it!

And Roger’s promise turned out to be true: “This thought – that we always have the choice – is one of the most important concepts you must grasp to enjoy life fully, and in doing so release the power within you.” It did! Thank you Roger! Mr. Dawson did a great job of persuading me that “… the word choice is the most important word in the English language.”

Now it’s my turn to try and persuade you – with the help of some wise friends.

Let’s start with Brian Tracy (from his CD set The Universal Laws of Success and Achievement – The Law of Choice): “Every human action is a choice and the choice is always based on the dominant values of the individual at that moment. You are a choosing organism. You are continually making choices based on what you consider more important and what you consider less important. Every act that you engage implies a choice.”

I can hear you sing that familiar tune, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!” And that’s because you “Gotta go to work,” right? “You got no choice,” you say. Sorry, but Roger and I say you DO have a choice. Of course you may not like to or want to suffer the consequences of not reporting for work and possibly getting fired, but NOT going to work IS an option.

And it’s the same thing for that red traffic light at the intersection you’re fast approaching. Stop? Don’t stop? There are cars circulating in the other directions, pedestrians about to cross the street, and two cops eating donuts in their cruiser parked in the vacant lot on the corner. No choice. “Gotta stop. It’s the only option. Doing otherwise would be pure madness, totally irresponsible.”

I agree with you, 100%. Nonetheless, even though the consequences could be horrific at worst (hitting and killing somebody) or expensive at best (getting a ticket), removing your foot from the gas pedal and applying it on the brake pedal is still a matter of choice – YOUR choice. You say it’s a reflex? It’s a reflex only because you have programmed your subconscious mind so that every time you are approaching an intersection where the light is red, the option you’ve chosen is to stop. But what about when you’re approaching an intersection and the light turns amber?

That’s a conscious decision, a conscious choice you make every time, depending on the circumstances. To slow down and stop … or speed up and go through … Aha!

Back to that red light. Again, it’s YOUR choice to stop or not. No one is pointing a gun to your head. But what if there was? Let’s look at that for a moment. What about a situation where you’re being held up at gun point in a dark parking lot by a thug who wants your Rolex®, your wallet, and the keys to your Beamer. What should you do? Give in? Churchill advised us to, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

Good sense ... Well, most would say it’d make “good sense” in this situation to “give in.” But what if you choose not to? You might not like – or live to deal with – the consequences of your decision, but that decision, that choice between a few unattractive alternatives (give in, flee, attack) is yours to make – nobody else’s. The choice is YOURS.

As it is in ALL situations in life. You always have at least two options, and sometimes ten! But it’s always YOUR choice. Send that bratty teenager to live with his dad, or not? Divorce that good-for-nothing slob, or not? Renew your lease for the apartment or take the plunge and buy that house by the water? Take a leave of absence from your auditing job with the government and complete your master’s degree in archeology – your true passion – or not? Burger and fries for lunch, or soup and salad? Tell the truth, or lie? Drink a fourth beer before you hit the road, or decide three is enough, and call a cab just in case you’re over the legal limit? It’s YOUR choice!

Here’s Richard Bach’s view point on this; “You choose, you live the consequences. Every yes, no, maybe, creates the school you call your personal experience.”

As human beings, we have the capability of consciousness, of self-reflection, and of determining our own behavior. We are not robots, though we often act as though we were, allowing knee-jerk reactions to determine our actions without consideration of the consequences.

Most of the difficulties revolve around making choices. Sometimes when faced with a problem we feel that we have no choice but to react in a certain prescribed manner, or that we have to react the way we always have, the way our therapist said we should, the way our friend suggested, or the way our mother or father reacted.

When we step back for a moment and engage our conscious thinking and strategic skills, we realize that with a little practice in opening our minds, we have many choices in the way we react. Such a thoughtful, strategic reaction is more likely to be respectful of ourselves and others and produce more positive results.

You might not be ready yet to accept it as a fact of life, but Tom, Roger, Brian, Richard and I (and thousands of philosophers and luminaries) all agree on this one: YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE CHOICE!

BE the very best you can be,
DO all you can possibly do,
GET everything you want to have,
GIVE as much of it as you can give.

Daniel G. St-Jean
Aka The Sparkplug of Personal Development
Author of 7 Simple Keys To Spark Change In Your Life Now!
Co-author of 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life – volume 2

Author's Bio: 

Daniel G. St-Jean’s mission is to instruct and ignite the people who are just thinking about making significant changes in their life, and to support and encourage those who are in the midst of making such changes so they get to live the life they really want to live. Visit his web site at http://www.SparkChangeInYourLife.com, read his Blog at http://www.aBlogAboutMakingLifeChanges.com and subscribe to his eSparks at http://www.SparkChangeInYourLife.com/e-sparks.