Entrepreneurs are responsible for every choice involving every aspect of their business…it is this freedom and control that motivated many to become entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, scientific studies have shown a wide array of options doesn’t liberate people, it can overwhelm if not paralyze them. In this installment of the Entrepreneurs’ Alphabet, we explore how understanding choice as a value can enhance and empower our decision-making process.
Traditionally defined as having the power, right, or liberty to make a decision from available alternatives, choice is understood to be an action. However, as many of our choices are based less on action and more in reaction, we risk sacrificing our power, limiting our options, and getting stuck.
As human beings, we are inclined to obey Newton’s first law of motion, “an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force.” This explains why so many life and business changes are instigated by an external crisis such as: the loss of a job, the introduction (or failure) of technology, the break-up of a relationship, or the diagnosis of a disease. The fortunate aspect of these unfortunate circumstances is that they force us to make different choices about how we prioritize our careers, business strategies, relationships, and health…choices we previously thought we did not have the time or ability to make.
By understanding choice as not just an action we make, but a value we honor, we don’t have to wait for status quo to be disrupted to clarify our goals and options. As a value, choice becomes a perspective that views opportunities and outcomes as fluid.
Every day we make thousands of decisions, some are reactive (we adapt to change) and some are pro-active (we create change). Some are driven by distress (from a place of fear), some by ambition (from a place of desire), some by curiosity (from a place of play and wonder), and others by impulse (motivated by unconscious instincts and emotion). The good news…is you have the power to choose how you make choices. In the words of Viktor Frankl, a neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, “Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Now your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to contemplate the following questions to better understand and possibly shift your relationship with choice.
1. On a scale of 1-10, at what level of choice are you living?
2. In what areas of your life do you feel you have the most choice? The least?
3. What choice(s) are you most proud of in your life? Why?
4. What choice or decision would you make if it were not such a risk?
5. Start to notice the many options that present themselves in a day. Keep a record of the choices you make and your decision-making style (i.e.: weighing the pros and cons or trusting your gut instinct, etc.) At the end of the day, write down what you have learned about yourself and your relationships with choice. And as a bonus, start thinking about what decisions you can delegate so you can lessen your load.
The Entrepreneurs’ Alphabet: C is for CHOICE
By: Stacey Zackin, PhD, MSW, PCC