Usually, It’s a Choice
Hello. I’m Tony Mayo, the Business Owner’s Executive Coach with one quick idea you can use in your business …today.
A wise man once said that it is impossible to be satisfied with something we’re stuck with. Luckily, in today’s world, most of us have many, many more choices than we often recognize.
So much of what we do is our choice. We may feel stuck with it but we rarely are. One client was, well, complaining to me about his long To Do list. Dozens and dozens of items. Some of them that have been there for weeks or months. Maybe this has happened to you. I know it’s happened to me.
He got to the point where just thinking about his to do list, much less looking at it, was depressing and upsetting. I asked him, who put things on this To Do list? He said, “I do.”
“Okay. Who can take them off?”
“What qualifies a task to be put on your to do list?”
“It’s something I want to get done.”
“What keeps a task on the list, other than not getting it done?”
“If it’s still something I want to get done.”
“Let me see if I’ve got this right. You made a list of things you’d like to do, results you want to have. You have chosen each one and personally constructed this list, but you’re _dominated_ and depressed by it? Who’s in charge here?”
What my client did, the assignment he took on for himself, was to go back and look at every item on that list and say, “Is this something I choose?” He surprised himself by choosing every single task on that long list. He was so energized by this new freedom –which existed only in his head, in the language he was using– that he became very efficient and productive. As soon as he stopped putting his energy and attention into resisting the list, all of his energy and attention was available for blowing through the work.
Choice is always available. Even in some cases where you’re certain it isn’t. I was speaking with a client who asked to cut our call short because she had to pick up her son at school.
I said, “You _have_ to? It’s pretty rare that you _have_ to do anything.
She said, “No really, I _have_ to. He’s sick.”
“Come on,” I said. “Be honest. You _don’t_ have to.”
She reacted the way you probably are. “I’m his mother. He’s sick. I have to go.”
“You don’t have to. Think about it. There are mothers who don’t pick up their sick children at school …because they can’t or because they won’t. You’ve made a choice to pick him up. Why did you make that choice?”
She paused for a moment and said, “Because I care about my son. He’s more important than any of the client meetings or other projects I had going today. Because I love him, I put his needs at the top of my priorities.”
As soon as she saw that she chose to take care of her son that day, all of the angst and upset went away. The appropriate action was clear. “Go get your son today, because you chose to make his welfare your most important purpose. Not everybody would. And not every time will you.” With this insight, getting present to her own values and choices, she experienced freedom and found the energy to act appropriately where before there was only upset and obligation.
In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “You are free. Choose, that is, invent it.”
Thanks for listening.
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