“The history of free man is never written by chance but by choice– their choice.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
In his book The 8th Habit Dr. Stephen Covey wrote, “The essence of being human is being able to direct your own life. Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to re-invent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.” I have rarely seen the power of our choices better captured then Covey has in these few sentences. And while choices remain a constant in writings about leadership and life, our (and my) interest in the subject remains extraordinarily high.
Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a blog titled The Most Important Story We Will Ever Write. Over the last 12 months, it has consistently had high levels of activity and engagement. And while the focus of the blog is primarily about the implications of our choices, it does little to provide any insights or guidance for us as we navigate the thousands of stimuli we get on a daily basis and the subsequent choices we make in response. As such, it seems appropriate to pause and consider what we do know about not just choices, but conscious choices. Those moments where we make decisions that are right and good, and not just right and good for us, but for the good of the whole. Trending practices include:
Authenticity is a word that means something is genuine or real. Few things can positively impact the direction and outcome of our choices more then aligning them with our personal core values, principles, beliefs, and purpose- our genuine or real self. It is, after all, the best version of who we are and who we want to become.
In their book Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology authors Kashdan and Ciarrochi write about our use of mindfulness to “facilitate action in line with core values, enhance performance, and increase engagement with the task at hand.” In life, how often are we even aware that a stimulus is occurring or worse, that we are responding without any awareness of what we are saying? Broadly defined, mindfulness is conscious awareness of what is happening in the present moment; a great place to start as we consider making choices that are right and good for the whole.
In The 8th Habit Covey goes on to write, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” What’s most critical here is the “space,” the time we take before responding to ensure our choices and subsequent actions align with our best self, the person we want the world to see and experience.
Success is often thought of as meeting one’s goals while significance is associated with having meaning. Meaning in a sense that others and the world as our common home are positively impacted by the choices we are making. Significance as a desired outcome or end game from our choices ensures that we will live a life a meaning and contribution, a life that matters.