As a peak performance strategist I have the privilege to interface with a diverse group of clients. Many of my clients are well established and quite successful while others are just getting started out in their business or career. Many of my clients enjoy happy, fulfilling marriages while others are searching the yellow pages for a good divorce lawyer. Some enjoy a healthy lifestyle, others are overweight and out of shape. I am always searching for key distinctions that separate the person who by their own definition is living a full, rewarding life from the person who routinely feels frustrated and dissatisfied.
Today, I would like to focus on two key distinctions that can play a big role in the overall quality of a person’s life. Our CHOICES and our PERSPECTIVE.
Every day we make choices. We choose what we wear, what we eat, how we treat our children, spouse, employer, employees, customers, neighbors and friends. We choose to be honest or deceitful, faithful or unfaithful, principled or unprincipled, kind or mean, generous or stingy, loving or hateful. Every choice brings about a consequence. Some consequences we intend to happen, others “not so much”. It’s the “not so much” consequences that offer us the biggest opportunity for growth. Here are three tips for making better, more informed choices.
1. Think things through. This sounds pretty basic however, most of us make emotional choices. In other words we make choices based on whether something offers us pleasure or pain. When we take the time to think things through we tend to make better choices. For example, I recently enjoyed dinner with a friend. During the course of dinner he consumed several cocktails. He wasn’t slurring his speech or acting silly but he did have a “good buzz”. He was concerned that he might be over the “legal limit” and thought that it would be a good idea to “take a few side streets home”. I encouraged him to think things through. I asked him to consider the worst thing that could happen if he made the decision to drive in his current state. I ended up dropping him off at his house and he retrieved his car the next morning. He CHOSE to leave nothing to chance. Good choice=positive consequence.
2. When in doubt, get a second opinion. Let’s be honest, most of us are capable of making unfavorable choices. Whenever I am making an important decision (choice) I routinely reach out to a close friend or associate and solicit feedback. I am NOT asking them to make the decision for me but rather to make sure that I am not missing anything that could lead to an unfavorable outcome. I then weigh the feedback and make my decision. This also allows me to keep my emotions in check.
3. History. Our past history can serve as a reliable indicator as we make future choices. For example, I may consider using my “bill money” to go to Las Vegas for a weekend with “the boys”. As I contemplate this choice it is important to reflect back on another time when I may have made a similar choice. What was the result? Did everything work out fine or did my phone get turned off? Did I enjoy the feelings associated with not paying my bills in order to experience immediate gratification? Our personal history can help us make better choices.
Our perspective is the way WE see things. It is experiential in nature, meaning that our current perspective is based on past experience. I like to refer to an experience as a “reference point”. Simply stated, perspective is our point of view. When we find ourselves feeling angry or frustrated it is often a good idea to step back and look at things from a different perspective. Here are three tips for shifting our perspective.
1. Don’t personalize things. Whenever we experience a rejection many of us immediately begin looking for something “we must have done wrong”. We may also find ourselves taking on a tremendous amount of UNNECESSARY guilt. For example, when a relationship ends and despite what the other person claims, it was not entirely our fault. It takes two people to make or break a relationship. Deflection temporarily takes away from the sting of a rejection. It is always in our best interest to move through the stages of grief and gather the lessons from the loss. Personalizing our grief means that we are trying to be RIGHT about something. It is important that we identify what it is we are we trying to be right about and begin telling ourselves a new, more empowering truth.
2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Objectivity is one of the most important things we can practice. Whenever I find myself in a situation in which tempers are flaring and angry words are being spoken, I seek to identify the “root cause” of the tension. Is the other person feeling insecure, insignificant, not heard or not respected? What can I do to meet that persons emotional need and diffuse the situation? By putting myself in their shoes I am able to gain a different perspective and begin meeting them where they currently reside. This practice is often referred to as “grace”.
3. Be open to other points of view. “My way or the highway” is not an endearing way to live life. It is important that we remain open to learning. A differing point of view can open a dialogue and this dialogue will often help shift our perspective. In any disagreement there are two points of view, mine and yours and somewhere in the middle lies reality. Our willingness to listen to new ideas and different points of view allows us to make informed choices based on a newer, more defined perspective. An “expanded mind, never returns to it’s original size”.
This is how I see things from my perspective. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and perspective as well.