“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” I agree with Joanne Kathleen Rowling.
From the four fundamental powers of your personality and your power of response-ability arises another power—your power of choice. You can choose. And choose you do. Consciously or consciously, intentionally or by default, you choose. In fact, you make lots of choices. You may love this power or hate it; you may delight in it or seek to avoid it. Yet this power is yours and if you handle it aright, you will be more fully able to take charge of your life and be the architect of your future.
Some years ago I began using the term choice point as I worked with people, I might say: “You are now at choice point about what you want to do, so what will it be?” Later when I found this phrase several times in Maslow’s writings, I began to realize just how powerful the phrase is. And especially the impact it has when it is brought to a person’s attention — You are now at choice point. In terms of the Crucible, this is right in the middle of the heat of a fierce conversation (The Crucible, 2009).
What is the power of choice? How can you more fully experience this power in your life? The power of choice begins with your four fundamental powers of personality because you have the power to choose what to think, believe, remember, imagine, etc. And when you make those choices, you are exercising the power to choose the emotions that you want to give yourself to. Your power of choice includes the words that you choose to use and the behaviors you choose to engage in.
So how is it then that so many people talk and act and feel and think that they have no choice? “I have to do this or that, I have no choice.” And yet they do have choice! Just because there may be a consequence to a certain way of thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting doesn’t mean that you have no choice. It means that you are choosing to not even consider that alternative. Sure you can stand up to your boss who may be doing something unethical or illegal.
“But then I may get fired.”
“Yes, that may be the price you would pay for the courage to speak up. So what is your choice? What will you do?”
Where there is a form of helplessness, hopelessness, or playing the victim, there is a human being choosing these responses. And that human being is more than likely also choosing to not know that he is so choosing. By keeping oneself blind and unaware, the choice seems to belong to others, to the world, to the markets, to external influences and forces. I heard it the other day when during a conversation someone responded to an idea I suggested by saying:
“I could never imagine even thinking of doing that! I’m just not the kind of person who could ever go there.”
“So you are choosing to not make an movie in your mind about doing that, is that what you are saying?”
“Well, no, not really. You see I can’t imagine it. I’m not that kind of person.”
“So that’s your choice. Hmmmm. So you are choosing not to imagine it and you are choosing to not identify yourself in a new way so that you become the kind of person who would do it.”
“It’s not about choice, it’s about inability.”
“So you are choosing to frame it as inability rather than choice. ... [pause] ... It’s okay. It’s your life and you can do whatever you want ...”
“But you don’t understand, I can’t even imagine being that way...”
“That’s a good one. I had not thought about that choice— to choose to be a different kind of human being, one that eliminates that choice! So your choice is to think of yourself and define yourself as a choice-less human being. Hmmmmm. Very interesting.”
I’d like to report that there was an immediate Eureka! movement, that the heavens opened, that the blinders fell of his eyes, that he suddenly claimed his power of choice ... but alas, it did not happen that way. My guess is that there were too many vested interests, but the person is a friend and what he reported was that he didn’t sleep very well that evening and that I “had bothered him with that disturbing conversation.” I smiled and said, “Yes, I’m so very powerful I can control your sleeping!” He smiled and said that yes, he knows that is one of his powers. Ah, he was beginning to move to choice point!
The power of choice is the power to decide about direction— what direction do you want to go in? What direction would you like to send your brain? What would you like to believe? What frame of mind would you like to live from? What kind of language would you like to use in framing problems, solutions, innovations, etc.?
The power of choice also is the very power by which you truly become the author of your life and of course, as you become the author of your life, you develop your own internal authority. You are the one in charge of writing the script and carrying out the story. You are the author. So what script are you writing and delivering?
Here’s to your power of choice! Make it a good one.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
Everyone as best as he can!
Everyone as best as he can!