There are two things that separate us from virtually everything else on the planet. The first is opposable thumbs (a trait we share with a handful of primates, koala bears and some South American tree frogs). However, it's the second trait that truly makes us uniquely human. It is our ability to take in, process information and make conscious choices based upon it.
Marc Hauser, Director of the Cognitive Evolution Lab at Harvard University, recently said, "Mounting evidence indicates that a profound gap separates our intellect from the animal kind." What makes us uniquely human is our ability to choose
Your power of choice gives you the ability to steer, move and guide your life in any given direction. Regardless of circumstances, situations, hardships, or obstacles, you have the ability, the power and the responsibility to choose your responses.
Certainly, some people will have advantages that you don't have. Others will face obstacles that you don't. Your ability to choose is your single best way to level the playing field. What choices will you make? What direction will you take? How will you choose to respond to the obstacles you encounter? Nobody can dictate these choices to you. These choices are yours to make and they will ultimately come to define everything about your journey through life. While it might seem difficult, perhaps even overwhelming to choose a direction, avoiding making choices is a far greater risk.
Sir Isaac Newton, the great scientific thinker from the 17th century said, "An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion." By making a choice, you create motion. Even if it is the wrong choice it is better than no choice. You will learn from it, grow from it and become stronger because of it.
So make a conscious choice, take the stairs instead of just following everyone else on to the elevator. Get out of your chair, walk over and have a conversation instead of sending an email. If something is bothering you, say so instead of holding it in. Save a dollar instead of spending it. Tell someone you care about them instead of remaining silent and just thinking it. Smile instead of frown. Look for the positive instead of the negative. Conscious choices empower you, avoiding them sets off a chain of events that stagnates you.
Each day, billions of people awake in the morning. They crawl out of bed, try to get themselves together, put some food in their stomachs and attempt to conquer the challenges the day will hand them. They will muddle through the day, grumbling about this and that, complaining about what ails them and grow frustrated about what they feel they cannot control. Eventually, the day grows long and evening arrives. The darkness sets in and they fall asleep and get ready to start the whole process over again tomorrow. Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, this is what their life will look like.
Through this whole process, there will be moments of joy and times of sadness, there will be unbridled happiness and laughter yet also sorrow and regret. These are the signposts of life. The ratio of joy to sadness, of happiness to regret is entirely up to you - and well within your ability to control - as long as you make the right choices, consistently.
This may seem like a daunting and somewhat overwhelming responsibility. How does one consistently make the right choices? Doesn't everyone make mistakes?
Absolutely. Rarely, if ever, is anyone 100% consistently right. We all make mistakes, sometimes. It is all about the law of averages. The more 'right' decisions you make, the greater the likelihood that things will work out the way you want them to.
Within all of this, there is just one overriding decision that if you make it, the right way, it will have the greatest impact on your life. What is it?
Each day, as you roll out of bed, if you make this one simple conscious choice it will absolutely change the course of that day. Just make a firm decision regarding, who am I going to be today?
Are you going to strive to be your best at whatever endeavors you pursue today? Or are you going to simply choose to focus on getting through the day? Realize that whichever choice you make, most consistently, will inevitably define your life.
It certainly takes less upfront effort to simply focus on getting through the day. The initial ease and comfort that comes from just existing, getting through the day, will not and cannot bring great outcomes in the future.
Conversely, it is more difficult and requires more upfront effort and energy to strive to be your best throughout the day. However, without fail, at the end of the day, you will be stronger, smarter and better equipped than you were the day before. If you string enough of these types of days together, you will end up miles ahead in very short order.
Most of the people you will meet in life will want to pay the dues associated with taking the easy road to sim- ply get through the day. Yet they want the rewards that are reserved for those people who strive to be their best each day. Sadly, no matter how hard they wish this plan will work them, it never will.
As you approach each task today, ask, "What is the absolute best I can do on this?" Keep a positive attitude, ask questions, be open-minded, learn from others, get out of your comfort zone, add more things to your "To Do" list, have real conversations with the people around you, smile more, laugh and engage. This is what your best looks like, recognize it and embrace it.
Once you have lived one day as your best, back it up with another and another one after that. Bit by bit and day by day, you are developing a new habit. You are developing the habit of being your best.
Realize that everything in life is cumulative. Rarely does one thing matter, however, cumulatively things matter a great deal. So be aware, that with each day you consistently focus on being your best, you are building positive momentum. Build enough positive momentum and things begin to change dramatically.
While certainly your thumbs are valuable, it is your ability to choose to be your best that will liberate you, free you from where you are today and put you on the pathway to living a better, more empowered life.
Who are you going to be today? Make the right choice.
The one common component in every great success story is motivation: an ever-elusive elixir that allows people to overcome challenges, work around roadblocks and find the drive to persist in the face of every adversity. Motivation is the rocket fuel of success. Those who possess it will always travel farther than those who don't.
There is one crossroad you will come upon every day. It's a subtle intersection point that, unless you are aware enough, you might miss, walking right by and not even noticing it's there. Yet this one point, this one transition, will profoundly shape the life you'll lead: Will you succeed or suffer? Will you endeavor or simply exist?
What if the one thing you avoided most, something you dreaded and feared, was the most important part of succeeding? Most people hate the very idea of failure.They loathe thinking of themselves as coming up short, missing the mark and not succeeding. For many, just the possibility of failure is enough to convince themselves that it is not even worth trying. Isn't always better to set the bar low, keepexpectations in check and minimize the risk?
What if I do this and it doesn't turn out right? What if I screw this up? What if I mess up this sales call? What if I forget what I'm going to say in this big presentation? What if I embrace this new strategy and it doesn't work?
People aren't born to fail. Both science and our own experience has proven this to be true. At the time each of us came into the world, we were born with everything that we would need to build an incredible life for ourselves. It was handed to us, gifted to us innately, woven into our DNA.
What is it that makes someone great? Is it some innate ability? Some unique skill set that they were gifted with? Is greatness something that is bestowed upon some but not others? Is the ability to be great at something, at anything, woven into the DNA of a select few?
The truth liberates, it empowers and propels us forward. Yet in modern day society, finding the truth is nowhere near as easy as seeing the rising of the sun and the moon. However, the lies that put limits on people and their potential are as abundantly available as the air that we breathe.
When you take the time to consider all of the common phrases that exist in the English language containing a reference to the work "luck", it is little wonder that so many people possess such an overriding belief in its mystical powers. In fact, most of us would be hard pressed to go through the day without someone making reference to the word, luck. Each time we hear it, we nod our head and subconsciously buy-in to the all fire trap of thinking that success and luck go hand-in-hand.
There are certain fundamental truths that regardless of circumstance seem to stand the test of time. One of these is the fact that victims never win.