Every Choice You Make Makes You
In life, everything is the result of the choices we make. You can take the easy way out or you can fight your way through and do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances you face. Even when every part of your being is screaming, “Take the easy way!” you must realize there are consequences. Inaction is action. If you listen to the voice telling you to take the easy route, you’ll lose every time. Why? You have to do the right thing every time. There’s zero tolerance for anything less. There will never be a next time because you’ll always find an excuse for why next time isn’t good
So, what do you do? Suck it up and do what you should do. You might lose money, time, or things along the way, but what you gain is immeasurable. You gain confidence in yourself and in life because you did the right thing and kept your word. If you want a different result, make a different choice. It’s really that simple.
The Art of Forgiveness
There’s great salvation in forgiveness. You don’t realize how much anger weighs you down until it’s suddenly gone. When you forgive someone, you’re the one who’s healed.
Self-forgiveness is necessary when we’ve wronged somebody or committed a deep or personal hurt. It’s common to suffer because of something we did, even by accident, and it’s especially difficult if we view our actions as unforgivable—whether those actions involve cheating, stealing, lying, breaking trust, or causing physical or emotional harm. It’s important to acknowledge our mistakes, but it’s also critical to be able to move on from our worst actions.
The greatest value of forgiveness, whether of oneself or another person, is that it allows you to proceed with your life free from anger, resentment, and bitterness. Acknowledging that what happened was wrong can help heal the pain. The sooner you own your mistakes, the better. But here’s something to remember: Forgiveness isn’t always a two-way street. You won’t always get the apology you’re seeking. That’s a bummer, but it doesn’t have to stop you from forgiving the person anyway.
It’s hard to imagine, especially when you’ve been deeply hurt, but forgiveness is very liberating. It doesn’t require a response, just an action on your part. If your forgiveness requires an apology, then all the power is in someone else’s hands. You give them control over the outcome of the situation. You’re always in control of how you respond, so you can choose to hold on to harsh feelings or you can decide to let them go. And letting go doesn’t mean forgetting; it’s really all about acceptance—accepting the situation for what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a healing process that often takes time.
Getting in Your Own Way
If you want a different result in life, you have to change your habits and choices. They’re things you control, decisions you get to make. It’s really that simple. How you manage difficult choices as they arise determines the outcome.
You have to love yourself enough to want the best—not just the best things in life but the very best life—one where you’re surrounded by people who love and care for you. And you need to trust your instincts. Listen to that inner voice telling you “This is right” or “This is wrong.” You know better than anyone what’s best for you. I can’t tell you that. Making hard decisions that require difficult changes is about learning to respect and honor your future self.
There’s a story about an ancient Hebrew philosopher who met with a man who wanted to convert to Judaism. The man requested that the philosopher explain the entire Torah to him in the amount of time he could stand on one foot. The philosopher easily met the challenge. He said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and study it.”
The single word that stands out in his answer is “hateful.” He was suggesting that when it comes to our actions, decisions, and choices—how we move through the world—our first thought shouldn’t be How does this serve me? but rather How will this impact someone else? By putting ourselves in others’ shoes and asking ourselves how what we do will affect the people we care about most, we’re better able to see the repercussions of our actions.
In the end, change is always about commitment. How hard are you willing to work to create that change? What are you willing to sacrifice in your life to get to where you want to go? What are you willing to give up if you stay exactly where you are right now? Are you who you want to be yet? When you commit to one path over another, put your whole self behind that choice; when you do, you open yourself up to a world of possibility.
We all have that voice in the back of our minds telling us the right thing to do. Sometimes we listen, and sometimes we don’t. Listening often reveals the harder thing to do, which makes it more difficult to act on. When you do those right things, though, you’re planting seeds that can be harvested one day.
Good people are good because of what they do throughout their lives. It’s how they live. When you continuously plant bad seeds, your actions will eventually catch up to you and you will fall. That’s how life works. This was a wonderful time for my son to see how one’s actions, even the small ones, always came back to either help or hinder.
Most people don’t know their own potential, or worse, they doubt it. The most important gift you can offer people is the encouragement to believe in themselves. Planting seeds of hope doesn’t require you to be bigger or more successful than others; you simply need to have enough confidence in yourself to build someone else up. Believing in another human being’s potential is incredibly powerful. Encouragement like that can be difficult to receive, and the leap to fulfill such confidence in you can feel awfully big, but trust me, when someone says they believe in you, it can give you superhuman strength.
You Can’t Go Backward in Time
When you’re in business, you’ve got to be willing to think outside the box and try new things, even if it makes you uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up or an established company—evolving is a never-ending pursuit. A lot of people don’t like getting out of their comfort zones. They like the status quo, the old-school way of doing things. And that’s cool because, when you’re the one thinking differently, the opportunities come to you like bees to honey.
Wake up in the morning and think, Today may be the best I’ve got. If I don’t do it today, when will I do it? Now, “it” can be anything—starting a business, buying a new car, beginning a new health regimen. The purpose of saying that is to circumvent any excuses that might hold back. Procrastination only steals time, and time is such a precious commodity. Like it or not, we all get older, every single day. Whatever you feel in the moment, you should do, because a year from now you may not feel like doing it. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you know you can do today.
Be Real, Humble, and Kind
In life and business, you can either be with the people in the balcony or the people in the basement.
You can choose to wallow in your challenges, use hard times as an excuse, and let your circumstances beat you down. There are a lot of people who believe that misery loves company; those are the basement people. They’re always willing to pull you down to where they live rather than build you up. The balcony people, on the other hand, are those who want to see you succeed. They lend a helping hand to pull you out and up. They’re always on your side.
In the end, wealth isn’t about how much money you have, the house you live in, the stuff you’ve accumulated; it’s about your relationships. It’s about being fulfilled. It’s about choosing happiness. And it’s about the legacy you leave behind. It’s not up to anyone, but you to decide how you want to live. You must believe in your capability to take a punch or two and in your willingness to pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the ring.
We don’t always know how things come to be in life—they just do. Understanding that is a gift. It’s provided me with the confidence to navigate every turn thus far, and to accept that a bend in the road is not the end of the road. One of life’s greatest advantages comes from knowing that your biggest mistakes can bring about your greatest successes. If you know that, there’s no fear in moving forward, even without a game plan. Everything works out.
Don’t just think it; know it.