choices

You’re So Good Looking

birds

I think tough decisions are made easier when we become acutely aware that we have the choice to not make them. Sure, we may not like the consequences of failing to make a hard call about our lives, but it’s still within our power to not make them.

And there is something freeing about that- The idea that life isn’t happening “to us” but that we’re an active, informed participant in the whole thing.

Reactions are choices, and choices are (by definition) powerful. Our choices are limited only by our imaginations. A few years ago in my office, someone came down with a cold and started sneezing profusely. Needless to say, the reflexive barrage of “Bless you” came hard and fast. Then, in the fashion of an old “Seinfeld” episode, the next sneeze was met with “You’re soooooo good looking” which left some younger staffers perplexed. We got a good laugh and now that’s all anyone says when someone sneezes. It’s better, isn’t it?

It’s a small thing, but it’s evidence of how choices become ingrained through repetition and all that’s needed to change those deeply embedded responses is a single moment.

Every moment is a new opportunity to do something different. Obviously, you don’t have to avail yourself of that opportunity every moment, just don’t become so numb to it that you forget that it’s there.

Our verbs become our adjectives… Father’s day post.

Our choices become our identity. Our verbs become our adjectives.

When we continuously choose to care for others we become known as “kind.” When we choose to put ourselves first we become known as “selfish.” When we choose to shepherd those in our charge and put their success and growth first, we become known as “leaders.”

Everyday I have to remind myself at least twenty or so times who I want to be known as. What would the kind of person I want to be do in this situation? It’s just a flash and it’s almost become instinctual for me. 

What are my adjectives? More accurately, what are the adjectives I’d like to choose for myself? I desperately want to be known as “effective, funny, committed, passionate, and a great father/husband.” so I have to remind myself constantly to take care to make those sorts of choices. 

I choose to hold doors and say thank you to everyone on my team as much as possible. I’m quick with compliments when the opportunities arise. If I have to break news I choose to do it in a humorous way when appropriate. I’m wildly passionate about what I do and I want others to feel that passion – every interaction, every single day.

Just like nicknames, we don’t get to choose our own adjectives. They’re applied by others and they illustrate how others see us. They’re a reflection of what kinds of verbs we are choosing – which is really all we can choose. 

I became a father a few years ago and my two boys are amazing. I want to be seen as generous with my time and attention, fair in my treatment, and encouraging of their curiosity. Kids are the best for letting you know what they think of your choices – there’s no faking it.

Internal dad monologue: “Yeah, you’re dead tired from 11 hours of crazy at work, but playing chase before bed time is going to make you the kind of dad you want to be known as – stick it out buddy, it’s worth it. Also, your wife has had a rough day too, take a few minutes and then talk to her about her day. Clean the kitchen. You’d like nothing more than to sack out on the couch with a book, but you’re not done yet… it’s OK, this is exactly what you want!” 

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What verbs are you choosing? What adjectives do you aspire to? Are you making the choices that are going to yield the outcomes you desire?

P.S. Happy father’s day to my dad and a special thanks for all the times you made me mow the lawn to learn a work ethic and for driving me to baseball card shows and comic book stores when you’d have liked nothing more than to watch the game. Thanks for being a great example and helping give me the tools to be a great dad, leader, and friend.  You’re awesome and I’m sorry for not letting you know that more often growing up.