“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” Kofi Annan
How do you make choices? Do you find yourself choosing easy outs over tough decisions? What got me thinking about the choices we make were the two questions you see here: This one from Plinky – Would you rather have one free trip to space or free international travel for life? and this from Daily Post – What should you do when sick on vacation? While these questions might be easy decisions for us to make, there are choices/decisions/questions we tackle that require a lot of reflection, consultation, and even prayer.
Every day, we make endless choices vis-a-vis decisions about our lives and the lives of others in our care. We engage in one of five types of choices that shape our decision-making; Commands as a leader, Delegated decisions, Avoided choices, No-brainer choices and Collaborative decisions. All have consequences; though some have less impact than others. Are there decisions that are unclear? Some we regret? Sure. Sometimes, we have experiences in life that lead to tough decisions to make. The outcomes could be positive or disastrous… we must still make a choice. Below are stories and lessons learned on the subject of Choice. How do you decide?
The Farmer And The Viper
One winter, a Farmer found a Viper frozen and numb with cold, and out of pity picked it up and placed it in his bosom. The Viper was no sooner revived by the warmth than it turned upon its benefactor and inflicted a fatal bite upon him; and as the poor man lay dying, he cried, “I have only got what I deserved, for taking compassion on so villainous a creature…” Lesson: Kindness is thrown away upon the evil. Don’t throw pearls to swine.
“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” Robert Fritz
The Scorpion and the Frog
Once upon a time a scorpion wanted to cross a brook. On the bank he saw a frog and asked if the frog would give him a ride to the other side.
“Oh no,” says the frog, “If I carry you on my back you will sting me.”
“But why would I sting you when we would both surely perish,” replied the scorpion.
The frog eventually conceded that the scorpion had a point, and agreed to the request.
Half way across, the scorpion stung the frog, and they both began to drown.
“But why did you break your word and sting me, knowing it would be certain death for us both?” cried the frog.”Because it is in my nature.” said the scorpion.
“Life is a sum of all your choices.” Albert Camus
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” William James
Don’t You Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
The Old Mule
Once upon a time a farmer owned an old mule who tripped and fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule braying and was unable to figure out how to bring up the old animal. It grieved him that he could not pull the animal out. He’d been a good worker around the farm. Although the farmer sympathized with the mule, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened. He had them help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and quietly put him out of his misery.
At first, the old mule was puzzled, but as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, he had a thought: he ought to shake off the dirt and step up. And he did just that.
“Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up.” Even though he took painful blows of dirt and fought panic, he just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule stepped up and over the lip of that well. What could have buried him actually blessed him…all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
What motivates us to choose Option A over Option B when both seem reasonable? What triggers an impulsive decision we later regret? What gives us pause and make us indecisive about a situation? Our values, attitude, ethics, life experiences and fears. Regardless of what/how we choose, the more sobering fact is that we can’t choose the consequences of our actions and that is why we must choose wisely. My answer to the two prompts and more stories below… How do you make tough choices? 🙂
***Happy 51st Independence Birthday to Nigeria… born, October 1, 1960! 🙂
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling
The Retiring Carpenter Story
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. He would get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.
So it is with us. We build our lives a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then, with shock, we realize we have to live in the house we built. If we could do it over, we’d do it differently. But we cannot go back. You are the carpenter. Each day, you hammer a nail, place a board, erect a wall. “Life is a do-it-yourself project,” someone has said. Your attitude and the choices you make today build the “house” you live in tomorrow. Build wisely!
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Gautama Buddha
Buddha and the Abuse
It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.
The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, “If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?”
“The giver,” said the group after a little thought. “Any fool can see that,” added the angry stranger.
“Then it follows, does it not,” said the Buddha, “Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings.”
All of these stories give us insights into choices made, the outcomes and the lessons learned. Every time we make a choice, there is a consequence; some are innocuous and others are serious and might affect other people too. So choose wisely. As per the questions asked, I will choose one trip to space as world travel can always be made. As to getting sick abroad, I have and went to a hospital; fortunately, it was in Toronto, Canada and I got great and free care. One can also purchase travel insurance… and depending on the nature of the sickness, we can choose to go home. What are your thoughts? How do you make choices? Would you choose something easy over something tough? Do share! Thank you. 🙂
***By the way, Seth Godin is having a Teleconference on Monday, October 3, 2011 to discuss/answer questions on his new book, We All Old Weird. More details on his blog post here: Invitation to a teleconference for We Are All Weird
This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Plinky: Would you rather have one free trip to space or free international travel for life? and from WP Daily Post: What should you do when sick on vacation? Can you recall a time when you went on a big trip, but got sick? What did you do? Did you try to rest and improve your health, or did you stubbornly push on and fight to make the most of it?
Positive Motivation Tip: Choose wisely; all decisions have consequences, for while we can make choices, we can’t choose the results.
- Musings on Choice and Children (psychologytoday.com)
- Tony D’Souza “Mule” (eyeonbooks.com)
- Harvey Weinstein documentary: Who will talk? (insidemovies.ew.com)
- The Sides to Life. (ultdream.wordpress.com)
- Musings: If Money Didn’t Matter… (eof737.wordpress.com)
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Farmer & Viper, Scorpio wine, Mule Juancito, Carpentry Tools, Choice 2 people, via Wikipedia… Two Wolves by Laenulfean, via Flickr. STORIES: All via Stories for Trainers Aesop’s Fable – The Farmer and The Viper, via HappyChild.org