18 years ago this month I made a life changing decision. This decision continues to influence all aspects of my life. With this one resolution reached after agonizing consideration I changed the trajectory of my life. It might be hard to believe that one decision could have that much weight. Let’s ponder that for a moment. There have been many decisions in history that have had significant impact on our world. For example: Dwight D. Eisenhower made a decision as president to create the Interstate Highway System. Ike’s network of 42,000 miles of highways allowed Americans to travel in ways they never imagined. This sparked not only commerce but provided freedom for Americans to settle all across this great nation. That single decision changed America. This turned out to be a good call. Another decision that did not turn out so well was when NASA decided to launch the space shuttle despite known O-ring problems. As we all know this resulted in catastrophic loss of life and loss of confidence in our nation’s space program. My decision did not impact our nation like the two examples I gave but it did impact my entire world. Every single day we make decisions that have the potential to create ripple effects across our corner of the world.
When I was younger my parents warned me about following the wrong crowd, driving too fast, and playing with guns. They knew that one wrong decision in these circumstances could have a lifelong effect. I have to admit as a young man I really did not comprehend their warnings. I felt invisible and confident that I had a handle on things. I am very thankful that I have been given several second chances in my life to come back from those ignored warnings and poor decisions. Not all my friends have been so fortunate. That brings me back to my life changing decision. As I reflect on the day I made that decision I can still remember the details of that date. I recall the weather, where I was living, who was around and what drove me to resolve myself to make a change. However, that is not what I reflect on the most. When I think about how one decision has had such an impact on my life I realize that it was not that one day; it is the fact that I have chosen daily for the last 6,570 days to make that decision over and over again. For 157,680 hours I have chosen, consciously and unconsciously, to stick with what I declared 18 years ago. I know that my health, marriage, career and faith depend on it. That is no easy task. I don’t say that to receive admiration I say that as an admission that doing the right thing takes commitment, even when we don’t feel like doing it.
When we choose the role of leader (formal or informal) we made a decision that has to be renewed each and every day. We resolved ourselves to be role models to those we serve. We resolved ourselves to advocate for our teams and for our customers. The industry in which you serve does not matter, what matters are the people in your world. It may seem that the decisions we make are small and inconsequential but I am here to tell you they are not. What we do as leaders has a ripple effect beyond those we serve. How we lead impacts our staff’s families, our communities and of course our organization.
It’s timely for me that I get to reflect on my decision made 18 years ago in the month of December which is the same time we all start to reflect on another passing year. What I am happy to report this year is that I recognize I am not perfect. I have not always lived up to the moral yardstick in which I strive for, but what I can say is that at the end of this year is I have really tried. I got up each day and reaffirmed my resolution. I strived to be a positive and productive member of my community and a leader who lifted up those around me. I admitted my failures, asked for forgiveness and sought counsel. From those things I can continue to grow. If you have been putting off a decision, act! In the famous words of Amelia Earhart “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”.
Merry Christmas from CultureInfusion.com