Within the past few days, you made one of the most significant decisions of your lifetime, while casting your vote in our country’s truly historical election.

For many of you, this decision may have been relatively easy, while others of you may have found this to be a rather daunting decision to make. Our heightened awareness of the magnitude of the outcome of this year’s election, should serve to remind us of just how important our decision making processes are on a daily basis. Thus goes every day life.

So, what kind of other important decisions have you been executing? What I’m really asking you is... What else have you been “voting” for? While the act of voting is our esteemed privilege as American’s, the seemingly all important decision that is being made, is in reality simply another “choice”. We make hundreds of choices every single day. Some will seemingly have little significance, and others will appear more than weighty. Yet in the end, every choice is a very real “decision”. Why is this important you ask? The answer is that every decision made will have alternative result outcomes, dependent on the final choice election that we actually make.

If you really think it’s not all that big a deal... think on. Try this decision on for size:

For the moment, I’m going to have you imagine that you’re my friend Sam. Like the rest of us, Sam is juggling a lot of stuff in his life, including being up for a promotion at work. He was up late last evening working on his presentation for a very important client meeting early this morning. When Sam got up this morning after a short nights sleep, he hurriedly grabbed a cup of coffee, stopped to take the garbage can out to the curb (which he forgot to do last night), quickly jumped into the shower, got dressed in a frenzy and raced out the door to make his long commute to get to the office on time.

At this point, it all probably sounds pretty normal, as we all have these kinds of hectic days. But let’s look at this scenario a bit deeper. Traffic was heavier than usual this morning, not to mention the backup due to an earlier accident. By the time Sam got to the office building’s parking lot he was already tense. He had wanted to get to work early today, and now he was barely there on time. After parking, as Sam opened his car door and began to get out, he looked down to see that his wardrobe for the day was grossly mismatched. He was wearing traditional business presentation attire, a dark blue suit with a corresponding blue and red patterned tie. However, in the dim early morning light, Sam had hastily procured a dark pair of socks from his dresser drawer which he thought at the time were dark blue... only to now learn that they were a dark color alright... “Olive” green!

Can you picture what happened to Sam from that moment on?

Sam was resultantly very “self conscious” about his wardrobe selection error.
Sam became very nervous, adding to his early tensions.
Sam was worried about what other people might think if they noticed (and surely they would).
Sam lost his edge and wasn’t on his game come presentation time. And…

While I could extend this scenario further, I feel certain that you get the point of the exercise. When you get right down to it, it usually doesn’t take too much to alter the results that we get. In this instance, one pair of men’s socks. Sam could have opted to have set his clothing out last evening, but that wasn’t the choice that he elected to make. As cited earlier, every decision made has an impact, a reward or a consequence. In Sam’s case:

Sam had to live with his decision all day (a long day no doubt).
Sam had to endure the embarrassment of his decision.
Sam had to literally “walk around” in his decision the entire day.
Sam played the “If only I had...” game all day in his head, and was self distracted.
Sam was consequently less than productive.
Sam made less than a sterling presentation.
Sam is now more worried about his chances for a promotion.

It is also important to realize that decisions, like our thinking and behavior are subject to “patterns”. While there are clinically theories which describe this in a more comprehensive manner, we can understand the conflict that arises in the decision making process from the following three factors:

What a person SAYS they are going to do (an individual’s “Espoused Theory”).

What a person actually DOES or how they behave (an individual’s “Theory In Use”).

What a person INTENDED to do (an individual’s “Action Theory”).

The necessity of having balanced and congruent thought-behavior patterns, is key when it comes to effecting appropriate and consistent decision making.

Let’s now focus back on the question at hand… What else have you been voting for (in your life)? This is a significant question, because our emotions are directly tied to our thinking / behavior / decision making process and can create very real roadblocks to our own “success”.

Carefully consider by column the following decisions that you have already elected to make:

Faith & Inner Peace vs. Despair & Lack of Purpose
Self Examination & Insight vs. Nervousness & Insecurity
Self Assertion & Creativity vs. Denial & Self Criticism
Joy & Happiness vs. Resentment & Prejudice
Self Confidence & Empowerment vs. Self Doubt & Fear of Failure
Self Worth & Integrity vs. Inferiority & Helplessness
Safety & Support vs. Aloneness & Feeling Disconnected
Desire & Fulfillment vs. Apathy & Jealousy
Success & Abundance vs. Mediocrity & Just Getting By
Responsibility & Accountability vs. Faultfinding & Blame

All the classic quotations now loom true... “We are what we think”... “We become who we see”.

Consider the timeless wisdom of the famous novelist and Nobel Prize winner, John Steinbeck, who said:

“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness, if greatness is expected of him.”

Then say you... What are your own “self-expectations” of and for yourself?

The decisions which you have already elected to make, in some cases long ago, are either enhancing or diminishing the quality and productivity of the life you are now living. What are the “consequences” that you are experiencing for the decisions which you have previously executed? How long has it been that way?

What really needs to “change” in your life or work? Do you need to “veto” some of your earlier decisions? While our presidential election was very much about policy change in government, the responsibility for every day “change” in the way you perceive and resultantly live your life, is entirely up to you and you alone. No one else can do it for you. More saliently, no one else will do it for you.

It’s also no secret that we simply can’t do it alone. We all need help to get where we’re going, and attempting to go it on your own is neither a recipe for effective change or for success.

What life or career changes do you need to cast your vote for?

Copyright © 2008 Executive Coaching International / Thomas H. Swank, CBC. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Swank is a highly respected Executive Coach, Business Strategy Consultant and Motivational Speaker. Mr. Swank is the Founder and President of Executive Coaching International, which is known for the development of “High Performance People and Organizations”. Tom is recognized as an expert in the field of “business and personal development”, as well as a contributing author by SelfGrowth.com, the number # 1 website for personal improvement. He is also a contributing author to the number # 1 website for small business and entrepreneurs, Evan Carmichael.com. Tom’s articles are also regularly featured and highly ranked on BizSugar.com.

Contact Tom at (877) COACH-10 or by e-mail at TomSwank@ExecutiveCoachingInternational.com
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