Chocolate or strawberry? Life or death? Life is an unending flow of choices and decisions. Everything we do or don’t do is inherently connected to a choice we make. It’s what lives within us.
Some people make choices quickly and easily. Others agonize over every choice, having a hard time deciding what to do and how to do it. Some question whether we really even have free will, and others believe it is well within our power to make choices that will lead to greater well-being.
What lives within us is conscious choice. And its power. I have noticed over the course of a day, I make numerous choices in business and in my everyday life. We know our choices as a nation today, will have a profound impact on who we are as a country in the future.
When I choose to focus my energy to make as many of my decisions consciously, I have noticed I maximise my ability to pursue what I love with purpose and a sense of curiosity. I see what lies within me. I possess a yes…and attitude. I create positive change.
For example, on mornings when I wake up and choose to have a good day, I have prepared. I meditate the night before. In the morning, I eat a healthy, good breakfast, and I set about not diving in to review my tasks for the day. Well, not immediately. I do something, even if for just five minutes, that I love. This morning, William and I played Top Trumps.
All these conscious choices over time become an unconscious consciousness, and they change my internal environment. My choices change what lives within me.
I liken these conscious choices to the third number-one rule of improvisation
In improv, yes…and means accepting ideas, thoughts, behaviours and choices and building on them. The power of yes…and can have a profound effect on our approach to life and business. We open up to the possibilities. By the by, the first number-one rule is make everyone look good. The second number one-rule is be spontaneous.
Accepting offers, making conscious choices with a yes…and attitude, fuels right choices, and is the foundation of all relationships.
What is flirting but a way of saying yes, I want you, I like what I see. Let’s face it, when we want to get jiggy with it, we adopt a yes…and strategy. It is all about seeing the opportunities and making the right choices. In business negotiations, it is all about finding the solution that meets all parties’ needs – that each side is willing to accept. The sales process consists of getting the customer to say yes to whatever it is you are selling.
Our choices are statements about our priorities
They really are our values. Making conscious choices has opened and closed doors for me. I had to join the army because conscription was compulsory for white males in apartheid South Africa, late 1980s. And I believed I had no choice. But I did.
We lived in such a policed state with very traditional societal roles, a man’s place was out earning money or killing people. Defending freedom, the freedom of the oppressors.
Growing up in this environment where my parents weren’t activists, I fell into line. I believed I had no choice. And so lived as the state intended me to. I was determined to make conscious choices that served me. But I wanted out. Out of the army, out of the system, out of the country. I spent every waking hour doing this.
Conscious choice is nothing without curiosity
Children are born with an innate curiosity about the world, themselves, and their environment. William, my seven year old, spent most of this morning making coffee for the adults in the house. Obvs in between playing Top Trumps with me.
He was curious about how the coffee machine worked. The machine that Daddy uses every morning, which makes Daddy perk up. Think about it. A baby takes joy in gazing at their foot as it moves, or the toddler who waddles across the room, checking back to see that the adult in its life is still there to protect them.
Do you encourage that curiosity in them? Have you encouraged that curiosity in yourself? Or do you just ignore it, squelch it, or worry about it?
Our priorities determine our destiny
We constantly make choices about our priorities in business and in life. Unfortunately, I, like most entrepreneurs, have made significant decisions on auto-pilot. Instead of consciously evaluating the direction and results I have wanted to achieve, I have jumped ahead, taking action. The businesses have failed.
In contrast, those of us who consciously guide their organisations forward, do so by establishing clear business objectives and plans before moving forward. We consider the priorities. I know now the first step in everything I undertake is to consciously choose what I want. Do you do this for yourself?
When I seek to make a difference, it is an intentional choice. I am living my purpose. I structure my priorities to understand what lives within me, and what I choose to change. That change leads to identifying areas that can be eliminated. I know then I have the impact my heart desires. This comes from the choice of deciding what is most important to me. What is important to you?
The Practice: Yes…And
Try out having a yes…and attitude for a day. If that’s too long, for an hour. Notice your ability to make conscious choices that serve you.
Perhaps with work in an online meeting, agree that everyone present start each sentence with yes…and. Notice the positive contribution and creativity, but more importantly, people will feel they are making conscious choices that serve them and others.
Alternatively, play with a yes…but attitude and see what happens. So in an ideas session, get everyone to start their sentences with yes…but, and see how far you get.
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Henry David Thoreau