Choice Not Chance

"It is Choice not Chance, that Determines Your Destiny" ~ Jean Nidetch

I recently came across two separate events in the last several months promoting this month’s topic on Choice. The first was several conversations with people who were talking about how they had let chance govern their career choices and how they now were struggling to make their own choices about where their careers would go from here. The second was several graduate students caught turning in papers as their own when they had, in fact, purchased them online. The first group had the opportunity to choose, but couldn’t. The second group had the opportunity to choose and chose poorly. It had me thinking, why are these choices so difficult?

Alfred Montepart once said, “Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” Being an effective leader in today’s global business environment requires a multitude of daily choices and every one of them has consequences. Granted, many of the consequences will be of the low to medium risk variety. However, some choices will carry consequences that may be unpopular, risky or difficult to understand. What they should not be, is hard to live with. Let’s go back to our two situations and see what leaders can learn from them.

Sustainable leadership does not leave success to chance. These leaders create visions, craft strategies to compete effectively and execute goal-based decisions to lead themselves and their businesses. They do not allow themselves to “wait-and-see” when the choices become difficult or when it is easier to go-with-the-flow. While this may have the perception of fewer or less risky consequences in the short term, there are consequences over the long term that can be far worse with time. I am not discounting the value of luck in this discussion. Fortuitous timing has certainly played a part in my own career, both good and bad. A mentor of mine once coached me to make good 85% decisions. In other words, when you get to 85% of the information you need, make the decision and adjust to the rest on the fly. Experience has taught me the consequences of waiting for 100% are far worse than those of making a decision at 85%!

In an earlier blog, I wrote of integrity and ethics as an issue for leaders in today’s environment. I shared examples of a ghostwriter who wrote papers for students from undergraduate to doctoral level, from teachers to seminarians and all walks of life in between. Those buying the papers knew of the wrong and consciously chose the unethical path. Of concern is the rationalization that the ends justify the means and making unethical choices is somehow justified on that premise. Effective leaders make their choices based on values that align with the purpose and vision for themselves and their businesses.

Every choice we make comes with its own set of consequences. Effective leaders understand this and consistently choose the harder right over the easier wrong when the situation calls for a choice to be made. How much of your success is being left to chance?

Choose Wisely and Lead Well!

Rick Lochner

Author, Teacher, Coach.

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