A while back, while I was riding my bicycle around town, I had the choice to go one way or the other to get to my destination.
As I approached the fork in the road, I needed to make a decision.
So I did some quick calculations in my head...
...what was the difference in mileage between the two?
...how many hills did I need to ascend for each route?
...what were the roads like in terms of ruts and pot holes?
...did I need to stop at a store for additional fluids?
...did I need to stop at a rest room?
The entire episode took me no more than perhaps a minute or so to decide.
So when the road forked up ahead... I went right instead of left...
Day in and day out, we all make similar small decisions that in some way effect our lives...
...where should we go on vacation this Christmas?
...who will I invite to go to the game with me this weekend?
...should I tip my server a few extra dollars for being courteous and attentive?
...how many additional miles can I go before I need to change the oil in the car?
...what is the next book that I’ll start to read?
...should I continue getting the newspaper delivered when I hardly read it?
Our days, nights and weekends are filled with simple questions just like these...
Questions that are typically answered in a matter of minutes or even seconds... questions that have no right or wrong answers... questions that aren’t necessarily life-altering...
We make a quick rational decision based on our available information at the time... then there is an outcome... positive or negative... and we move on as there is another decision waiting just around the corner...
Being able to make good decisions is just a matter of practice. If we make a lot of decisions... we’ll get a few right and a few wrong... but hopefully we’ll learn from our mistakes and try to make better decisions the next time.
Making a good decision doesn’t always mean that we’ll have a good outcome.
We might decide to take the shortest route home from work because we are planning to have dinner guests that evening (good decision)... however on this particular day, there is a major traffic accident that gridlocks the roadway making us more late than if we had taken the longer route (bad outcome).
Bad outcomes do happen... even when it was a good decision...
We can’t afford to second guess our decisions allowing ourselves to become angry or frustrated.
The outcome, many times, is beyond our immediate control so we need to accept whatever outcome occurs, even if we think that we did the right thing and made the right decision yet a bad outcome occurred.
So many people get themselves stuck because they are afraid of making a wrong decision.
They are at a fork in the road and they can’t make a decision to take one path or the other so they do nothing and just let time pass.
They become paralyzed with the fear of possibly making a bad choice. They are filled with emotional "what ifs".
They go back and forth... never fully committing... delaying action until the time is just right... setting the bar so high that it’s nearly impossible to attain.
Every choice needs to be a perfect no risk choice.
The big problem with always waiting for the perfect no-risk decision is that opportunity could come knocking... and knocking... and knocking... but the person behind the door is overcome with so much fear that they decide that it is much safer not to open the door rather than risk failure and explore the possibilities and opportunities that lay before them.
Soon opportunity stops knocking, gets frustrated and goes to the next door...
Then our fear turns into regret, anger and cynicism... we become angry at the world for not allowing us to be successful... when in fact the choice was ours all along.
When we choose to choose... we’ll be rewarded with two possibilities... success or an educational experience.
We find our greatest achievements by doing... not thinking about doing.
I have definitely failed more times than most... mainly because I have tried more times than most... every time I fail (and I will indeed invariably fail)... I try not to beat myself up... rather I try to smile and tell myself that I have just successfully made another tuition payment to "the school of hard knocks".
It’s not that I like losing...
I just really like playing the game and losing from time to time is invariably a part of the game... no matter how hard I try and how much effort I put forth... no matter how much I’ve analyzed the facts and numbers... no matter how much help I’ve received from others...
That afternoon I decided to veer right at the fork in the road while on a bike ride for no other reason than I felt a slight head-wind coming from the opposite direction. My new route would take me through the rolling country hills of the south county.
I was riding along well enough when a large peloton of riders began to pass me. It was then I decided to join the group as so to get back to my starting point a bit faster (riding in a group always allows bikers to ride faster and with less effort due to the draft created by the front riders).
At first I was a bit uncomfortable riding with such a large group, but my fears subsided as the miles wore on.
As I slowly worked my way to the front of the group, I decided that it was my turn to take the lead and do some of the hard work out in front... but as I moved to overtake the front rider, I saw another rider coming up on my left to take the lead from further behind causing me to drop back into the pack.
Unfortunately for me, there was no longer any space for me and my bike and I ended up hitting the rear tire of another bike causing me, in a split second, to lose control of the bike and crash into the ground.
In the moments that followed as I lay there on the ground on my back... I couldn’t help myself from thinking that if only I had decided to veer left instead of right at the fork in the road...
Too late for that I suppose... another tuition payment was made... but what an education those payments have provided me!
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