The Choices We Make

A Christmas Message from Kahlilah


Last week many were saddened by the loss of the Bengals Wide Receiver Chris Henry. While not a fan, per se, the story caught my attention and I began to ponder his choice to jump into the back of that pick up truck. His choice obviously had deadly consequences but there are choices that we make daily that can change our lives for better or send us down the wrong path. How can we ensure that we continue to make the right decisions for our lives, businesses and future? While we do not want to get stuck in the minutiae of small decisions that really will not impact much, we should carefully consider those decisions that will have significant and lasting effects. There are a few items that I believe critical to making key decisions in a timely and effective manner:

1. Goals and Vision
Goals and vision speak to the future and whether or not the outcome of the choice will bring you closer or further away from your short and long term goals. For a long time it was difficult for me to determine a vision for myself and my family because I was not certain what I wanted. I started, however, with those things with which I knew I was not satisfied with. This led me on a journey to meet new people and explore what more was available for me to desire of myself and my family. This made it much easier for me to create some simple goals for myself and ultimately a vision for my life. I encourage you to create some short and long term goals that will give you a framework to make decisions.

2. Priorities
Priorities reference the timing of the particular outcome. A great opportunity taken at the wrong time could be disastrous.  On the other hand, an opportunity seized at the right moment can be monumental. I believe that our lives mirror nature and just as nature has seasons our lives also have seasons. Just as it would be an inopportune time for buds to appear on a tree in winter; certain things are best reserved for a particular season of our lives. I also believe that priorities shift with those seasons—a priority from last year or last month may not necessarily top the list now.

3. The Advisors
Advice is self explanatory but quite delicate. While learning from the mistakes and successes of others and seeking advice is critical, we must also be very sensitive to whom we allow to advise us. A mentor of mine often says “if you buy someone’s opinion you buy their lifestyle” this is certainly something to keep in mind when listening to and taking outside counsel.

4. Intuition
Intuition is also another delicate area because our hearts have the tendency to be very fickle. At times we completely trust that we are making the right decision and the next moment we doubt ourselves and our decision making ability. This indecisiveness often paralyzes us. There is usually a strong pull in one direction regarding a particular choice and we often regret when we go against that pull. 

5. The Impact on Others
We often are so engrossed in our goals, vision, and priorities that we neglect the impact that our decisions will have on those around us. While we cannot cater to everyone, there are key people in our lives that should benefit from our choices. Making the right choices can inspire others and that is a thought that we should keep in the forefront of our minds.

6. Re-evaluate and Make Changes When Needed
After decisions are made and we are living the outcome, there are times that we will have to admit that a mistake was made. We will have to start over, we will have to back track, we will have to cut our losses and go in another direction. This is not something that we like to think about as it often looks like failure, but it is what makes us greater. The key is that we have to learn from our mistakes, evaluate the path that took us there, and extract the lesson that will cause success the next time.

There are decisions that will not require this level of consideration but then there are those life altering decisions—decisions that can change our destiny! The good news is that most decisions will not immediately affect whether we live or die; therefore we have the ability to re-evaluate and make changes often. There are cases where we refuse to look at what is ineffective and unproductive in our lives and businesses, yet are frustrated by these same lives and businesses. If we do not make changes nothing will change. As we come to the end of 2009, I challenge you to take an inventory of the decisions you have made and where they have positioned you. If you are not satisfied with where you are, re-evaluate and make changes — you have the ability to change your life more than anyone else.

Kahlilah L. Guyah

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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