How many of us are in the throes of making important decisions personally, professionally, and in turn possibly life changing? There have been numerous times in my life, and yours, where decisions have had to be made in regard to careers, relationships, residences, investments, family, children and other realms of life responsibilities that have significantly impacted our happiness, fulfillment and contentment. What are the primary factors that formulate a correct decision? What influences have impacted your decision making process? Was a decision made, or were the fears of failure and/or rejection to strong to prevent you from being decisive? Do you ever employ faith or some spiritual influence as an ingredient in a decision? Are you more analytical or emotional in making your final choice?
Most of you reading this column have likely been around the block of life experience a few times, and in the process have gained valuable experience to build upon a sense of personal confidence and self-respect. Believe in that sense of self, and believe in the confidence you possess to make a correct decision. The core values that collectively form the personality of your character are the foundation for your confidence, and create a subconscious intuitive ability for you to make the correct choice when the challenge of making a decision arises. I have found that it has been, and is today, my intuition, an understanding of my core values, and a gut felt sense of what is right that have been the catalysts in propelling me to be confident, insightful and decisive. Intuition is defined as, “a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.” Our current economic, and social stressors have only increased the need to more conscientious and analytical in regard to how we live on a daily basis, but never neglect what your intuition may be telling you. Also, the need to be more cognizant of the influence of technology only adds to the complexities of making correct choices. Intuition should be thoughtful not spontaneous, and intuition collectively with diligent research will equal a successful decision made. Always take the time to weigh the pros and cons of a decision, and consider all the factors involved in coming to a right conclusion. It is this combination of being analytical and intuitively thoughtful that is extremely influential in making the right decision. It is difficult to regret a choice that collectively feels so right.
Another area that influences our intuitive thought process is our degree of spirituality. I am not recommending a belief in any specific structured religion or deity, that is a personal choice. However, I am encouraging a belief in something greater than ourselves, and the possibility to acknowledge as individuals we do not have all the answers, all the time. Personally, my belief in something greater than myself adds to the level of trust I have in my ability to make the right choice. I trust there is a reason for everything, and what happens to you happens for you. When life is overwhelming, it is emotionally and physically healthier to believe there is a purpose behind the madness.
I also believe that individual purpose is created and driven through our service to others. Your faith in your own purpose will intuitively impact your success in making correct and core value based decisions. It has been and will be our choices that create and define who we are. We have all made good and bad decisions, but it is how we handle our mistakes that determines our character, and how we contend with success that determines our level of humility. On a side note, as I have watched the devastation in Haiti this past week, it stimulated the thought once again, “What did I wake up and whine about today? “ Why would we ever waste time on any day worrying about what wasn’t and what isn’t, when we never know what tomorrow may bring. Hug those you love a little tighter tonight. May our thoughts and prayers be with those who have lost so much. Trust your intuition.
As we reflect on this past year and look forward to the future, I would like to propose a slightly different resolution for the New Year. A resolution defined by improving how we as citizens ethically behave and demonstrate respect towards one another, resulting in countering a social trend toward unethical normalcy. I believe we are teetering on a precipice of significant moral challenge. It appears there is continued movement towards an acceptance that behaviors such as cheating, lying, philandering, etc. are more the norm rather than the exception.
As individuals we should be resolute in enhancing an ethical example to those around us, especially our youth. With the increasing ethical landslides of so many prominent individuals, most recently Tiger Woods, our children are undoubtedly more suspicious in believing the importance of what any leader may say, because of the fallout from leaders behaving in contrast to what they say and project to the world they are. Hypocrisy is defined as, “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense”, and ethics is defined as, “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior.” The continued corruption in so many of the most prestigious offices of business and government only fuels the social distrust machine. The hypocrisy of individuals thereby deteriorating integrity and personal honesty is a cycle that must be challenged. Personally, I was saddened by the Tiger fiasco, for so many respected and admired the character this man appeared to possess. This incident further reinforced an understanding of the lack of a direct correlation between money, fame, and happiness.
The necessity to live a life that is a reflection of the values we as individuals believe in is paramount in avoiding a personal moral meltdown. I would ask any parent reading this column to make a resolution to revisit and reinforce with their children the internal character benefit in behaving ethically responsible. The benefit being a synergy between who they are and what they project to others they are, resulting in a wholesome sense of self. Our personal and family core values are the foundation for the establishment of such expectations of moral behavior. The examples we as adults set are not only critical to substantiating the expectation of moral behavior for our children, but an overall societal benefit by “raising the bar” in regard to appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Upon returning from several year-end speaking engagements, I reflected on how many citizens are yearning for moral, ethical leadership and role models. True leadership is not self-centered but selfless. With leadership comes added responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to be an ethical example to those being led. What kind of message is sent to all citizens when leaders from any arena are found to have violated the very trust they created between themselves and their followers? The message is one of disappointment and distrust.
Is there still ethical leadership? I believe there is and there are many of our fellow citizens who espouse to a higher calling everyday. We all make mistakes, I certainly have, but our challenge should be a continuous improvement on making conscious principled choices initially, to avoid the consequences of being unethical. I believe we have a responsibility to future generations to help create a more ethical society, for the opposite will only generate more distrust and less kindness in our world. Five recommendations for enhancing an ethical example are, *take ownership for what we say and do each day * reflect to ensure our behaviors are in alignment with the values we hold dear * although said often, act on the Golden Rule of treating others as we would want to be treated, * be consistent in what we stand for and believe in because that generates integrity * finally, realize we have a responsibility to others for there are many who respect and believe in you, and want strength of character in their lives. It has been an honor to share with all of you some thoughts to ponder over this past year. I wish everyone the best in 2010. Happy New Year!