One of the ways I define success, is by my ability to make choices. That almost sounds silly, right? I mean, you always have choices. Let’s be honest though, you don’t always feel that way. Maybe you can’t always see them clearly. Sometimes the choices feel limiting. Worse yet, sometimes the choices feel false.
There is a lovely trick that marketers play on us around choice. Through the appearance of customizing our experience to better reflect who we are. On the one hand we feel a sense of uniqueness in buying our special latte and at the same time part of a tribe as we display the logo of perceived sophistication of Seattle roasting or the more colorful New England grab-and-go tribe. It’s pretty brilliant. It’s not much of a choice.
Choices Define Success
There is a speaker named Connie Podesta. I can’t remember how I learned of her, but in one of her speeches she poses a question, two questions actually.
Are you proud of your professional choices?
Are you proud of your personal choices?
I’ll let that sit for a minute as I grab a sip of my coffee (more Seattle than New England but really neither : ) ).
Given the varied aspects of our lives, I think the categories of personal and professional sum things up nicely.
She is asking, at the end of the day, can you say that you are proud of the choices you made in each of those areas?
It seemed to me to be a fairly good and simple measure of success to be able to say yes or no, to each of those questions. It’s not the only measure, but stay with me.
It’s a trap!
We tend to make a lot of meaning and assumptions about words very quickly and without really considering them. I did it with these questions. In my mind I said some version of Did I make good choices today?
The first part of the question however is, Are you proud…
What it doesn’t say is, Are you happy with… or Were they all perfect… or Did you like them… or even… Were they good…
She asks you to consider if you are proud of the choices?
For example: I wasn’t happy that I chose not to go for a run today and I certainly didn’t like it, yet I suppose I am proud for having chosen to give my foot a day of rest from a minor injury instead of pushing it.
Interestingly, it ALSO doesn’t say Are you proud….of what you accomplished today? or …of what you checked off your to do list?
The other assumption I quickly jumped to was to think that a choice is bad if you are not proud of it. Choosing to wear a red shirt instead of a blue shirt however is neither good or bad, but it is likely not worthy of pride.
There is something to be said for considering the words in the question that she asks.
The Big One’s Get All The Credit.
The thing about choices is that we spend a lot of time focusing on the big choices, often not realizing how significant the little one’s can be.
That means not just what big goals we have, but how we chose to spend our time. Where we chose to put our energy today.
These questions are a reminder to think about the small choices throughout the day and consider whether or not they too, are something to be proud of.
And I’m betting that saying yes to both of those questions doesn’t always mean making a lot of good choices. It might mean making fewer choices well.
What do you think?
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