“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the natural laws. Your choices determine the consequences. No person ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of their choices.” ~ Alfred A. Montapert
One of the great freedoms we enjoy as Americans is, we get to make our own choices. When you think about it, there are really very few things that we don’t get to make decisions on. The few things in life we don’t get to decide for ourselves usually involve the government making that decision for us; how much we pay in taxes, social insecurity, etc., but even then we can always choose not to work and have taxable income. The thing that gets a lot of people off on the wrong track is that with freedom comes responsibility.
If we are free to make our own choices in life, and if having that freedom means we are responsible for those choices, it becomes imperative that we make wise decisions. No one is perfect and sooner or later we all make a bad decision, but what I want to talk about are the different types of bad decisions. I believe there are two types. The first type of bad decision is when we make a choice that we truly believe to be a wise choice at the time such as investing in Enron, accidentally downloading a computer virus or voting for what turns out to be the wrong candidate. These are usually “one off” bad choices that we learn from in life.
The second type of bad decision is when we make a choice to knowingly do the wrong thing. This can be anything from cheating on your spouse to deciding not to go to work. This type of bad decision usually comes in clusters because they perpetuate more bad decisions. Now you have to lie to someone about where you were. This compound effect can quickly spin things out of control resulting in unintended consequences.
In these two examples the unintended consequences would be that you could either lose your marriage or lose your job. Both would be devastating consequences to suffer, but I believe there is an even bigger loss – integrity. Integrity has no grey area. You either have it or you don’t. Once you lose your integrity, getting it back is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.
Of all the elements of personal character, integrity is most valuable. Integrity defines who we truly are as a person. I love the quote, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” In today’s technological society there is often an electronic record of what you do when no one is watching. Enter “unintended consequences”.
The truth is, we all make bad decisions from time to time. Type 1 bad decisions are how we learn and grow and can be considered mistakes as much as they are bad decisions. It is the type 2 bad decisions that we have control over. By simply doing the right thing, we will avoid making this type of bad decision and thereby avoid the unintended consequences that go with it.
Enter self-discipline. Self-discipline is the single most quality for success in any endeavor. Self-discipline means that you have the ability within yourself, based on your strength of character and willpower, to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Monty Rainey is a District Manager working in the self storage industry since 1996 and currently overseeing 13 stores in the San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .