Decisions are crossroads

My less than restful night sleep left me more groggy than usual as I drove into work this early morning. I found myself constantly yawning and as I glanced in the mirror, I noticed my bloodshot eyes; yep I looked as tired as I felt. As I considered the work day ahead of me I knew that my sleep-deprived night would make my daily tasks more difficult. In the middle of my thoughts, I glanced out of my window to the left and noticed a police car with a “passenger” in the back seat.

As we pulled up to the traffic light, I caught myself staring at the prisoner that was being transported and noticed he sat at an angle in the back seat; I looked further, and noticed his hands were behind his back, obviously handcuffed. He was gazing off in the distance, seemingly lost in thought. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind. As hundreds of commuters surrounded him perhaps dreading the eight and a half hours of work that lie ahead, I’m sure he had no such thoughts. My guess is that he would love to be in the position of having to face an arduous work day. He may have been thinking about some foolish thing that he did which lead to a spiral of events that eventuated in his arrest.

What puts someone in a position such as this? One day it is freedom and laughing and enjoying the moment with friends and family and the next facing a lifetime behind bars.  Without trying to sound overly simplistic, it can be boiled down to one word: Decisions. Each one of us makes a myriad of decisions every day.  Some decisions are simple and straight forward others require more thought, maturity, and rationality.

Our lives are formed as a result of dozens of decisions. In a moment we change our life’s course; college is too difficult, so we quit and our dreams remained unrealized. A relationship or friendship hits a few bumpy roads, so we throw in the towel and never see how the difficult times could have molded the relationship to be that much stronger. Maybe it’s a career that faces difficult challenges that cause someone to run away rather than facing the issues head on and learning from the “trial by fire.”

Take a look at the headlines in the newspapers and see the tragic evidence of bad decisions. A person decides that they can handle a few drinks before they get behind the wheel of a car. The reality: their decision leads to an accident that killed innocent people and now dozens of people mourn as their lives are forever changed. It is one moment in time when a thoughtful, mature, and rational thought would have changed many lives.

How does this relate to business? It might be a simple decision to call that client or prospect when you don’t feel like it. You call them, and you begin a dialogue that leads to a long-term relationship with a very good client. Don’t call them and your competitor now has the project, a new course is set for two companies. Perhaps you are faced with the decision to work extra hours to make sure the quality of your product or service is not just average but exceptional, but you are tired and just want to go home. Focus on doing the exceptional job and you have won over a client, don’t follow through and you just proved that your company is just like all the others, and your client continues to search for that best-in-class provider.

The corporate world is replete with examples of executives that were entrusted by the employees and shareholders to make good solid business decisions, but one bad decision after another led to the collapse of companies, fortunes, retirement accounts, and jobs. These mega-corporate failures that have resulted in arrests of CEOs began with one decision.

If you were to plot out your decisions over a lifetime you would see a roadmap for your life. Every day you make decisions, and every day there are consequences of your decisions that affect you and those around you. Your decisions lay out the road map for your life and for your career. Decisions are powerful and are 100% within your control. No one else can take the credit or blame for them. 

Don’t make decisions lightly.  Consider the impact to you and how it may impact those around you.  Consider the junctures in the road that you face, don’t compromise or do anything that you will later regret. This requires a mature and rational thought process that is NOT automatically granted to you as you grow older.

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