The toughest part of life - whether personal or professional - is making the right choices. We teach our children that smart choices make for successful lives. Is that just empty rhetoric? Or do we really know how to make those smart choices for ourselves
at work and at home.
In the cause/effect equation of life, cause is a more powerful place to stand. For many of us, our experience of work is that we are at the effect of (or victim to) the system. Being at the effect of something implies that we are without the capacity to choose; without the ability to cause something to take place and are at the mercy of the choice someone else has made. The capacity to choose implies the presence of power. And yet, the power is not in the choice itself but in the process of the choosing.
The power does not reside in the end result of the choice but in the ability to choose again, and again, and again
allowing each subsequent choice to reflect new information, new experience and new wisdom. We sometimes make choices and then believe that we must now lie forever with that choice; that we cannot change our minds and choose again, or choose differently. And yet, movement is a sign of life. Each subsequent choice allows for the movement that is required in order for us to get on with our lives; to grow; to create new things to experience. Without movement, there is no indication of the presence of life. Without movement things eventually die. With the power of choice comes the experience of creating. With the power of conscious choice comes the awareness that we have always been creating - and can choose to create again and restructure our worlds.
The key to living at cause is noticing our response and deciding whether it gives us power or keeps us victims. When I think, "My team is making me do things I hate" "My boss is making me work too much overtime", and so on, I ask myself: how does being a victim serve me? What rule do I have that says I have no choice? What responsibility am I avoiding? Who would I become if I spoke my truth about this?
More choice begins by noticing what I say that gives power to others. I write those down. Then I practice responses that let me live at cause
and I notice the fear that brings up.
Dr. Victor Frankl survived the Nazi death camps by discovering that he ultimately had choice in his emotional response to what was done to him. Do you or I have any less choice?
This article was originally published in Australian Business Magazine, October 2001 issue.
You may reproduce it in its entirety with appropriate acknowledgement of the authors.