Did I hear you right? That my decisions are determined long before I make them? That they may not be the root of my problems?
The answer is yes! Shocking? You see, decisions are the result of a process that commences long before the eventuality of the results. This holds true for individuals and organizations alike.
Has something like this ever happened to you?
You have a very important early morning meeting with a VIP client and your top company brass. You are an integral part of this meeting and calling in is not an option. A successful outcome could mean the difference between getting that promotion or getting run-over (I mean, passed-over). Your boss has planned this meeting for months and you have utilized endless dry-runs with your colleagues to hone and fine tune the delivery and the message. You are ready!
You can’t sleep the night before. It is midnight, 1 AM, 3 AM, and finally, it is 5:30 AM when you catch some ZZZ’s. Unfortunately, you sleep past your alarm clock setting of 6:15 AM by thirty minutes before you realize your VIP client’s meeting may start without you. There is still time if you hurry, you rationalize! Your heart races, your blood pressure elevates and your body moves in ways you never thought possible as the bed covers fly off your feet like paper clip projectiles flinging off a hyper-stretched rubber band; the concept of time seems overly heightened. The valuable spare minutes you have seem to be increasingly elusive as your efforts to slow them down are futile.
Verifiable beast mode
After a few choice words on the way to the bathroom and before tripping on Fefe, you simultaneously begin the “what if” scenarios in conjunction with the “how can this be happening to me right now” brain conversation. You are now in verifiable beast mode.
Many things are forgotten in your wake: to reset the thermostat, to bring lunch and the after-work to-do list, and most importantly, to put that career saving presentation in your roller bag. When your car engine starts, tunnel vision sets in further; the garage door cannot open fast enough as your fingertips gently but nervously tap the steering wheel in seemingly symphonic fashion. The skinny and the fat pedals beneath your feet are competing with each other, one moving you forward, the other one holding you back. The skinny one finally wins! You’re oblivious to the fact that there are three neighbors watching your car’s tires scream for mercy, in a cloud of thick gray smoke. You even miss the pretty bluebird’s song greeting you by the corner oak tree.
Suddenly, blue lights cause you to unleash the brunt of your peril upon the unsuspecting steering wheel with multiple and simultaneous poundings, one after the other. A few miles down the road and halfway to your job, you are finally stopped by Mr. Trooper for cruising seventy-five in a fifty-five zone. He is having about as good of a day as you are where sense of humor is on vacation and the mirrored and tear-drop shades are embracing your reflection. Now you find yourself on someone else’s schedule with the probability of the desired outcome likely diminished.
So, what happened?
Well, the concept of purpose drove your perspective. Your perspective drove your priorities. Your priorities drove your behavior and your behavior drove your level of success.
You see, the decision to speed to work was a foregone conclusion the minute restful sleep became the true purpose for the day’s events. This led to the perspective (rationalization) that a few minutes of sleep is better than no sleep at all which in turn led to establishing sleep as the priority over anything else. And so you slept (behavior) which caused an undesired chain reaction that orchestrated an untimely citation and potentially a huge abrasion to your professional reputation (level of success).
Oftentimes, we tend to hold our decisions hostage for the outcomes of our lives. We even hold our business leaders and others accountable for the results of their decisions. Perhaps the place to start looking first is not the decision itself, but rather at the process that led to the predestined and ill-fated one.
Establish the concept of helpful purpose in your personal and professional life and enjoy the resulting decisions that will likely yield the intended outcomes. By the way… what is your purpose?