The Power of Choice

giphyThis week, my company paid for me to attend a Women’s Leadership Development Program for which I was nominated. It was a pretty sweet deal, besides the whole having to spend an entire week trapped in a conference room overflowing with estrogen and “the feels”.

One of our exercises involved differentiating things we Have to do, versus things we Choose to do. So in my workbook, I wrote a few sentences like: “I Have to earn a living; I Choose to work for this particular company,” and “I Have to eat; I Choose to eat nothing but donuts,” which seemed like a good idea at the time, until I realized that I had to share with the group (my statement, not the donuts – thankfully).

After we had gone around the circle and each taken a turn sharing our examples (which you know they wouldn’t do in a Men’s Leadership Program), we spontaneously broke into a rendition of Kumbaya. Just kidding. What actually happened is that our facilitator challenged all of our “Have To” statements.

“Do you have to eat?” she asked us.

“Well, yes,” responded one participant, “Or else we’ll die.”

The facilitator nodded knowingly. “But isn’t that a choice? You can decide whether or not you eat. If you choose not to eat, the consequence would be that you die, but it is still a choice that you make.”

A single mom with a young son had stated that she “Had” to work to support her son, and she pushed back hard on the facilitator’s comment. “Working in order to care for my son isn’t a choice; it’s something I have to do,” she expressed passionately. “It’s not optional. I can’t even imagine not taking care of him. That would go against all of my core values!”

“And the world would be a better place if more people shared those core values, but that doesn’t make it any less of a choice. It is a choice that you make, to care for your son. And one I’m glad you make. But don’t mistake it for something that you have to do. Everything is a choice, and all of our choices have consequences, be they positive or negative.”

The single mother was adamant that it was not a Choice; it was something she Had to do. For the life of her, she could not wrap her pretty little head around the concept of the Power of Choice; realizing that everything we do is based on a decision we make, whether conscious or not.

I was eminently grateful when another, older participant spoke up in defense of the facilitator’s comment. “There are plenty of single moms who make the decision not to work to care for their children. Why do you think we have the Welfare system in this country? I am glad you make the choice that you do, but there are plenty of examples of people who do not make the same choice, and we all, as taxpayers, face the consequences of their actions.”

She went on about the socioeconomic and political implications of more people understanding and embracing the Power of Choice and the concept of taking responsibility for those choices that we make. Sadly, her well-articulated insights were lost on the majority of the women in the room, but I, for one, was grateful to have discovered an insightful, intelligent colleague and kindred spirit.

If only more people had ears to hear the wisdom being shared in that room! It would transform this country – and our world – if more people not only understood but also took ownership of their Power to Choose.

Authentically Aurora

6 thoughts on “The Power of Choice

  1. You make a really good point. As a mom, one thing teen agers tend to do for a season is take you for granted. “You have to love me, you’re my mom” or “of course you think I’m smart, you’re my mom.” Hidden behind those words is a sense of entitlement, a lack of gratitude, and an unwillingness to believe anything your mom tells you, since she’s “just doing what all moms do anyway.” That is kind of the attitude that permeates our entire culture right now when it comes to choices. People take a lot for granted, they aren’t even aware of the choices/sacrifices others have made on their behalf, and like teen agers, it’s all about “the feels.” For teens, this is normal phase, once their emotions stabalize and they gain some insight, it passes. But adults, the culture at larges, yikes! I’ve never seen such emotionally stunted grown up people. It’s like a fad or a trend or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Mrs. Spike and I bemoan the fact that we are lumped in with the Millennial generation, because they are largely fraught with entitlement. We were raised by Baby Boomers who told us that we were special, could do no wrong and that we could do anything we wanted to do. We grew up believing that the world was our oyster, and we deserved the best of everything. Couple that ingrained sense of entitlement (and shirking of responsibility) with the introduction of the internet and social media, and you get a generation who expects everything to be handed to them – instantly – at no cost to them. It’s painful and disheartening, and the only silver lining I can find is that they are all destined to be wildly disillusioned and disappointed and depressed at some point, and perhaps in that valley is where they will discover the One who gives us Everything, expecting nothing in return, not because we deserve it, but because of Who He Is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always thought of this mindset as well. The power of choice. No matter what we do have choice. No matter how stuck we are, there is always choice. You could be locked in a cell in the very bottom of the earth and you still have a choice. Go on living another day, or give up. Have hope for the future or revel in your pain. I love that this teacher coach said that. That is why we are here and God has given us this very powerful privilege.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree with what you’ve written here. Even when someone refuses to choose, that in itself is a choice. As you mentioned, this generation is one of entitlement. Taking responsibility for one’s decisions is something that’s harder and harder to find today.

    What an interesting experience that session turned out to be. It takes an open mind and wisdom to be able to recognize and learn those lessons. If only everyone understood that very important point. Everyone has the power of choice, but only a few choose to wield it.


  4. Pingback: “Interesting” | Authentically Aurora

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