The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.
- Robyn Davidson
Every action and inaction we take, every moment of everyday, involves making choices.
Glen Ridge High School Class of 1980 was noted for being the largest class in the history of this suburban community. The majority of us started school together as kindergartners and would graduate together thirteen years later. Very important to the average Glen Ridge student was being smart, good looking, and be active in a sport. One of my classmates fit the bill quite well, until his wrestling injury in our Junior Year sidelined him. The wrestling coach took Tom Mapother aside and suggested he audition for "Guys and Dolls": the Junior Class Play. At Glen Ridge, there was one play annually and the Junior Class Play was it!
Tom could have said, "No, macho athletic guys do not audition for musicals. What would the wrestling team think of me dancing around a stage? Nah, not me!" but instead, Tom made the choice to audition. He took action, got the lead and fell in love with performing.
Being in close proximity to Manhattan, opportunities abounded. He quickly landed a role in a Brooke Shields movie, "Endless Love." It was a small role, playing one of Brooke's brothers. I can not even remember who played Brooke's love. Can you?
The next movie we saw Tom in was "Taps" about kids in a Military Academy. This was mostly a vehicle for Timothy Hutton, recently successful in "Ordinary People". Tom took a small role, but made the choice to play it with every ounce of his being. He fully became a very intense, crazed cadet. He made the decision to take a part which could have been insignificant and used it to flex his acting muscle. To fully become the role assigned. He was so in the moment, so completely engaging in the part, that it catapulted him to the attention of many high powered Hollywood decision makers. Tom made a choice and took action by taking a small role and grew it to mammoth, life changing proportions.
After his breakthrough role in "Risky Business", my classmate Tom Mapother fully became movie star, Tom Cruise. His star-making movie could have become another coming of age teen flick, but instead it is now a classic.
Last weekend I was one of many who sat in the highest grossing film of the week, "Mission Impossible II". There was my classmate getting an adrenaline rush while driving expensive cars and motorcycles and rock climbing and hobnobbing with the rich and influential in Sydney, Australia. While enjoying the entertainment value of this movie, I recognized the power of the star's choices from a wrestling injury in his Junior Year in high school up until today, more than twenty years later.
As a producer, he was able to decide to film his movie in Sydney, Australia, his wife's homeland. He made the choice to do most of his own stuntwork. He was able to make this heartjumping movie on the heels of another movie, "Magnolia" where he chose to play a supporting role quite different this one, thus netting an Academy Award nomination in the process.
What decisions are you making today? What will the combined impact of your choices for today be upon you tomorrow, next month and next year? Regardless of how seemingly insignificant the decision may be, think about it. When you are faced with a choice today, consider it for an extra second and then take action on your decision. Action to bring you closer to realizing your ideal life.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing." Deciding not to take action is like deciding to keep the door locked to your self-induced prison. If your heart is racing, if you feel restless, if the depth of feeling startles you deep in your belly reading these words, the message to you is make powerful choices. Take action.
Live your life as you were meant to live.
- Julie Jordan Scott
About the Author
Julie Jordan Scott is a Life Purpose Coach who enjoys discovering what nature is speaking to her.
Following the lead of one of her favorite thinkers, Henry David Thoreau, she left her career as a government bureaucrat and built a successful home business in less than six months. She now
combines mothering 4 children with inspiring people worldwide through her books, ezine, teaching and personal coaching. To contact Julie about complimentary coaching or living passionately through
free email and teleclasses, visit her website at http://www.5passions.com/ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Kathleen Pedersen
Morality is generally defined as a system of rules that modifies behavior in social situations, often it is the basis upon which decisions are made. Much of what is considered acceptable in society is based upon shared values which justify actions. These shared values are not necessarily a hard-and-fast set of rules that everyone can agree on, but rather a set of values that are shared among the members of a society, to a greater or lesser extent. Some values may have almost total general agreement (i.e., always tell the truth), while others can involve considerable difference of opinion (i.e., do no harm).
The first step in making a decision is to know the facts of a situation. Definition of a problem, for instance, is moving in a direction required to solve it. Clear definition of which choices are available to decide upon is not always easy, and some choices are difficult, a matter of degrees. Getting the facts straight is often enough to make an appropriate course of action, or an obvious choice, clear. Occasionally, a decision can be made quickly, based upon past experience or just plain old common sense and what is commonly termed intuition, or based on a hunch.
Then there is the matter of justification of a decision. For instance, when is it more important to tell the truth than to do no harm? When is it a just thing to tell a lie? Imagine that you are in Nazi Germany in 1940, hiding a Jewish family in your attic. The German police come to your door, asking if you know the whereabouts of a certain Jewish family. How much harm can telling the truth do, in this instance? It would bring harm to the Jewish family, and could bring harm to yours in the bargain! To what degree are "white lies" acceptable in society?
To a large extent, morality is about relationships, because relationships give us important moral reasons for certain actions based on choices. For example, I am more likely to choose to spoil my own grandchildren than someone else's grandkids. In other words, not just the fact that a relationship exists, but the nature and history of such relationship is an important consideration when making decisions.
Good decision-making involves more than just acting on hunches or intuitions, although these certainly are important. Good decisions are based upon facts as well as "gut feeling," looked at through the lens of a value system, especially those values which are relevant to a given situation. Having a general sensitivity to the moral dimension of a situation may mean that I make an appropriate decision out of instinct, especially when such a decision is of a trivial nature, such as daily activities. Other decisions may require a conscious application of moral sensitivity, simply because the choices I am faced with may be so technically overwhelming that a moral aspect may not be readily apparent.
As discussed before, almost every decision has its effect, spreading out like ripples in a pond. Often, my decision may cause these ripples cross into the life of someone close to me, because most of my decisions are not made in a vacuum. It is important that I consider, or at least have a awareness of, the various parties that are or may be effected by my decision (based on facts, looked at through values, taken within a context and history).
Much of the decision process is done unconsciously, almost automatically! And yet, there is still more to consider, such as the benefit of a decision, or the burden of it. Who will be upset by my decision, or who might think I have acted in a way not in keeping with my relative values (such as that of fairness)? Who may reap the positive outcome of a decision, or who will pay the price of physical or emotional pain as a result?
Many decisions can be considered in light of a previous situation in my experience, where a particular decision was made and the outcome was positive, or at the least, acceptable. How might the present case be similar to that, or how does it differ? Consultation of others may broaden the base of experience I have to draw upon, and seeking the opinion of others can give me an entirely new perspective on the choices I am faced with, and the options available to me. It is even more important to discuss the facts and values of a decision when other individuals have a stake in the outcome. It is important to listen to their opinions, as well as the reasons for those opinions.
Not all decisions are easily made. Some are never easy, especially if they impact the lives of others. And yet, for the good of many, some are sacrificed - presidents order troops into war, knowing that they will die in numbers forever unacceptable, even if only one.
The last few questions to ask myself, just before I have decided: Can I live with this decision? Will my children follow my example? Is this a wise, informed decision?
Sometimes the best decision I can make is to put off deciding until all the information, insight, impact and implications are laid out before me. Until then, all I can say is, "I haven't made a decision, yet."