Decision Making – Character Creates Opportunity®: July 26, 2018

Many of us struggle with making decisions.

  • Decisions in the workplace can often be avoided as we seek more data or more time to see things develop
  • Decisions in the home may not seem as urgent and it can often seem harmless by pushing them off for another day
  • Decisions in our community often face the complexity of rules and regulations that make it easier to just blame the bureaucracy than to make a decision to change

As we continue our journey to build and strengthen our character, developing the discipline to make decisions will enable us to translate thoughts into actions and take us further down the path to reaching our full potential.

Experts in decision making and perhaps our own personal experience would remind us of a few realities about avoiding a decision: (a) A critical question to ask ourselves is are we just afraid of taking the responsibility that comes with deciding? Afraid of what may result in a failure, embarrassment or something worse and (b) Delaying a decision is in fact a decision that has consequences.

As we look to strengthen our decision-making ability, below are a few thoughts on helping us all move forward:

  1. Decisions matter. Making decisions teaches us personal responsibility and over time, we become a product of our decisions.  Our environment and genetics become a side show over time and as an adult, we need to face the reality that we become products of our decisions, not our environment or upbringing.
  2. Decisions bring clarity. When making decisions, we are often choosing one path over another. Clarity is a more effective state than ambiguity.  Speaking the decision (to ourselves and/or others) can act as a physical reinforcement of the decision we are making. “I am making a decision to…” It often provides the clarity we need to move forward.
  3. Decision making is hard. In making a decision, we inevitably face the reality of potentially making a poor choice, upsetting those who don’t agree, and standing all alone.
  4. Not deciding can bring more harm than good. Failing to decide helps us avoid responsibility which is never a good thing, leaves others wondering where we stand which creates distance in our relationships, and burns precious energy as we churn in neutral as oppose to focusing our energy down a certain path.

As we rely on principles such as courage, resilience, and hope to become more intentional about making decisions, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to reach our full potential and have a positive impact on those around us.

The Past – Character Creates Opportunity®: July 19, 2018

We all have a past.

If each one of us spent enough time unpacking it all we would uncover some experiences, that no matter how long ago they occurred, can still make us feel good about ourselves and some experiences that make a us feel a bit down on ourselves and still some experiences, quite frankly, we are probably just thankful our mother never found out and they never made the front page of the local paper or the YouTube highlight reel.

Regardless of the unique events of our pasts, the similarity we share is that our experiences still follow us today.  Our past experiences are either holding us back or they form a firm foundation to propel us to reach our full potential.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, a critical step we need to take is to develop a healthy view of our past in order to not let some painful experiences follow us with a dark cloud that limits the view of our full potential.

If we spent some time working through our past with someone caring and skilled, we probably would come to realize that we still hold on to some of these experiences in an unhealthy way.  If we spent enough time and worked really hard on unpacking our past with someone caring and skilled, we would probably uncover some experiences that we may have thought we dismissed or did not initially recall but are actually still holding us back from being our best selves.

The reality is we have experiences in our memory both at the conscious and unconscious levels that impact how we view our past as it relates to reaching our full potential in the future.

We all need some help to be our best selves.  Below are a few thoughts on developing a healthy view of our past which will enable us to create the foundation to reach our full potential in the present and future:

  • Rise Above to better understand. As we view experiences in the past, it is important that we “rise above” to take a view of all the people and events in order to process the full situation. Like a coach in a skybox, rising above will help us see the full field of play and understand the chain of events surrounding our experience.  For example, we may come to realize someone who hurt us in the past was dealing with an overwhelming set of circumstances and acted from a deeply trouble situation. The improved understand of the events may not excuse the behavior but understanding will help us process our experiences in more healthy way.
  • Assess and Learn to grow. Once we improve our understanding, then we can focus on fully assessing the situation and learning from the experience. Learning from the past, as opposed to condemnation, shame and/or bitterness, is the healthy pathway through pain in our past that will support personal growth.
  • Adjust and Move Forward to our future. Our past should not limit us, regardless of our experiences.  If we can process events in a healthy way, we can adjust our mindset and form a strong foundation to keep moving forward to reach higher and realize our full potential.

No matter how “down” we use to feel about a past experience, if we focus on learning and growing, we can create a healthy mindset around some pretty difficult experiences and use them to bring about the bright future we desire. As we guide our thoughts about our past by principles such as understanding, courage, and compassion, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to build hope for the future for ourselves and those close to us.

The Myth of Stability – Character Creates Opportunity®: July 12, 2018

There is a part of us that would like to believe the world we live in could be stable and unchanging…and happily ever after. The reality is we live in an endless cycle of change in every aspect of our lives.

As soon as we charge up our new phone, chances are high it will immediately need some patches to download to keep it functional.

As soon as the township re-paves a main road, it only looks perfect for about a day until we discover the sharp edge of a raised sewer drain.

As soon as we are a seasoned parent of a middle schooler, kids move into high school and we imperfectly face a whole new set of parenting challenges.

As soon as we gain a good degree of confidence in our chosen field, the marketplace shifts rapidly, and we find ourselves in need of some new skills to remain competitive.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, improving our resilience is needed to effectively address the endless cycle of change in our lives.

The good news is that academic research and real-life experience would demonstrate that resilience can be consistently improved over time. As our world continues to grow more complex and uncertain, here are few thoughts to encourage a focus on improving our own personal resilience:

  • Accept the Truth: It is important that we accept the universal and timeless truth that life is an endless cycle of change. It is not emotionally healthy to remain fixated on a false hope that change will not be a constant in our lives.
  • Change Brings Growth: We only learn through change and disruption. For most of us, if we looked back on our own life experience we would see that when things did appear relatively stable, we typically became complacent, unproductive and may be even a bit lazy.
  • Forget Perfection: For all practical purposes, it is impossible to be perfect in a world that is constantly changing. It is emotionally healthy to find some peace in our own imperfections. We should not become satisfied with our imperfections, but just find some peace as work to improve upon them. In addition, it would be helpful to find some peace with the imperfections of others, especially those closest to us. They are facing an endless barrage of change too.
  • Principles Remain: Even in a world of endless change, there are timeless, universal principles such as loyalty, commitment, compassion and teamwork that can steady us and grow our resilience as we journey along.

As we continue to improve our resilience to address the reality of ongoing, disruptive change in our lives, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to reach our hopes and dreams and stay close to those we care about most.