In my book Winning With PRIDE I talk about taking Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence. One major factor we need to learn is making good decisions. The following excerp is from the chapter on choices.
"Every decision is important. The decision to get married, join the United States Air Force, move to Florida, and go back to school all proved to be vitally important to my future and the future of my family. However, the small decisions such as where to attend church, what automobile to purchase, what neighborhood to live in, what books to read, what movies to watch, who to create relationships with, or what clothes to wear also have long-term effects. Therefore, every decision becomes important to our future.
In the book, The Three Spanish Philosophers, by Jose Ferrater Mora, we’re reminded by Jose Ortega y Gasset that we human beings are the only creatures on the planet that are born with the ability to choose. All the other creatures are born and guided by what we know as instinct, of which they are unaware, and do not have the capacity to question or change. For example, bears hibernate in the winter, salmon swim up-stream, and geese fly south. But you and I, as human creatures, are given the power to create our own future and success. We do exactly that every day of our lives. We put into place actions and ideas that will determine the shape and form of our future.
For some these actions and ideas lead to great achievements and rewards. They end life as Zig Ziglar says, “With most of the things money will buy and all the things money won’t buy.” But for others, it tends to lead to a kind of humdrum life, with a lot of ups and downs, never really grabbing success and hanging on to it. The actions and ideas for many lead them to a life of frustration and problems. They spend their lives in the bottom layers of society, broke, busted, disgusted, angry, frustrated, and many even die an early death all because of choices they have made.
It is hard to imagine when we are making decisions, that things we think are so insignificant can have such a profound effect on our future. It is like sailing a ship across the ocean. If you make a one degree turn the second day out of the docks, no one notices, but a week or two later you will discover that you are way off course and much is required to correct your direction. However, we can’t cry over spilled milk can we? It does not matter where we are now. Each of us must start making better choices today. We must judge every decision we make on how it could possibly affect our future.
Sometimes it is hard to imagine where an opportunity will take you. But it is important to realize that success or failure as a human being is not a matter of luck or circumstance. It is not a matter of fate, or the breaks, who you know, or any of the other myths and clichés many use as an excuse. It is, however, a matter of following the PRIDE principles and using the guidelines that are simple. When we follow such principles and guidelines, we can create the change we want to see in ourselves. We can create more of the moments in life that matter. We can experience all that life has to offer if we make the right choices, and it’s never too late to start.
I believe the one choice that helps most people achieve a balanced success in life is their faith or spiritual belief, which influences decision making. Your belief system will determine your values, and your values will help dictate the choices you make in life. What I mean by “balanced success” is being successful in every area of your life; physically, professionally, financially, mentally, educationally, with family, faith, and community. Many have success in a few of these areas, but after thirty-one years of traveling and working around the world, my study and personal observations indicate that only those who live what they truly believe actually achieve the level of success they desire, which is a level others can only dream about.
I’ve learned that all behavior is driven by belief, which means that your belief determines your behavior or action, and your actions will determine your destiny. Therefore, where you go, what you do, and what you achieve all depends on how or what you believe. Today many people have rejected the beliefs and values of their forefathers and try to establish beliefs for themselves that have no foundation and no track record for success. The principles I am talking about in this book have been proven over hundreds of years, and they will work for anyone willing to take personal responsibility in putting them into practice.
Traveling to foreign countries, especially Third World countries, is where I began to understand the power of spiritual beliefs. In many cultures people are taught to believe in false truths, pagan gods, and unrealistic expectations. I’ve seen everything from worshiping the sun, to worshiping cows, statues, carvings, buildings, and people who never existed, or who no longer exist. People believe in things like reincarnation, that they have lived in another life and will live again after this life maybe, as a dog, cat, bird, or something even more outrageous.
For a long time, I didn’t know exactly how to confront such beliefs because it is hard for anyone to imagine their cultural beliefs to be wrong; parents would never teach their children a lie. Not one person in all my travels and encounters could provide me any proof or evidence that these beliefs were based on truth. What I was able to see in my own faith and belief, that was not present in other religions, was a manifestation of my beliefs. I actually see, feel, and enjoy the fruits of my beliefs here and now. I have proof that what I experience as a result of my spiritual beliefs was stated over two thousand years ago in the best selling book of all time – the Bible.
I know there is a tremendous amount of controversy over religious beliefs, especially Christianity. Events over the years and modern science have discovered much of what was documented in the Bible by some forty authors over a period of fifteen hundred years to be true and accurate. I have always considered myself to be an open-minded individual. I will listen to almost anyone and try many things, but first I want to see proof that it is reliable and have lasting benefits for me personally. No one can prove to me that which is written in scripture to be false because I have always received the promises when I act on the principles outlined in the pages of the Bible. Of those who refuse to believe, I would ask one thing, don’t knock it until you have tried it with all your heart because the principles taught in the Bible will bring the results that everyone is trying to discover through so many different methods.
I believe most anyone can have everything in life they want, if they are willing to make the commitment and sacrifices needed to get it. We can be that energetic individual we long to be. We can all get up every morning with total passion for living. We can be that joyful creative person, we can have that healthy fit body we desire and we can be the influence on our family and friends they need. We can! The problem is our belief systems keep us from engaging the parts of us that would make it a must and not a should.
Whatever it is you want to see, do, or have has to become a must in your life. I hear too many people saying, “I should do this or I should do that” and “should” will not make it happen. And we all have “shoulds,” right? I should lose weight…I should eat less…I should exercise more…etc. I heard one man say “most of the time we ‘should’ all over ourselves and accomplish nothing.” Whatever it is you want to see happen, has to become a “must” in your life or you will never experience the reality of it.
How do we do that? The first step is defining why you want it. The why must be powerful or you will never make it a must. For most people it is a pain/pleasure principle. You either find it too painful not to achieve, or so pleasurable you must achieve it. This principle is why many never make the decision to be great, do the extraordinary, or have certain things in life. Smoking for example, even though the package is stamped with a warning that cigarettes will cause cancer, people still smoke because they do not see an immediate danger, no instant pain. They reason to themselves that they can “always” quit. If they thought by smoking a cigarette they would develop cancer immediately, no one would ever start.
Make the things you want to accomplish in life a must by engaging your belief system. Base your beliefs on truth, not on false facts and opinions of people who have no proof that their beliefs will become reality. When you do, you will begin to make better quality decisions. Remember what author and consultant Brain Tracy says, “What the mind can conceive and believe can be obtained,” but it should be based on truth. Then document the goals you want to achieve, define why you want them, set an action plan, and measure yourself continually to know where you are and how you are progressing and success will be inevitable."

Author's Bio: 

Donny Ingram was born January 31, 1954, in Marianna, Florida to Billy Joe and Maxine Ingram. He was married to wife Charlotte in November, 1974, and they have raised three sons. Donny served over twenty years with the United States Air Force and finished his career at Air University in Montgomery, Alabama.

He is an author, motivational trainer, conference speaker and President of Ingram Management Group. For over twenty years, he has worked in sales and marketing, as well as training and development for both government and corporate America. Donny is responsible for the development of “Recognizing Your Potential,” a corporate training program that focuses on human design, communication, and attitude.

He and Charlotte are founders of “Success in the Home,” a marriage and family relationship training series. They have lived, worked and studied abroad with many different cultures and nationalities. Donny has a goal of helping people recognize their true potential and maximize their efforts in order to live life to its fullest.