July 1, 2011

Toward a More Sustainable You: Alternative Belief to Consider #4

Our beliefs and mental models deeply influence the choices we perceive available to us and the expectations we need to meet.  In a new workshop entitled Toward a More Sustainable You, I've been offering four of the current beliefs that I believe inhibit our effectiveness and four alternative beliefs that, if adopted and implemented, could lead to a personal and professional life that is robust, yet more sustainable.

For the past three weeks, I explored one of these beliefs and its alternative with a Friday post. This is the concluding post in this brief series.

Belief #4
I don't have any choice.

Alternative belief #4
I always have choice even if the consequences may not be ideal.

It's a phrase you often hear: I don't really have a choice.  And at first, it rings true.  Any of us can find ourselves in a situation in which it seems as if we have no options except the undesirable one we lament.  But closer examination reveals that's not really the case. 

We must change the conversation we have with ourselves if we ever hope to change the conversation we might want to have with others.  Example:  Let's say you feel your boss micro-manages you and your work.  Your decisions are often second-guessed, and you are asked to report in great detail about your daily activity.

You could choose to see this situation as one in which you have no choice but to put up with your supervisor's management style.  But that really isn't the only option available to you.  You could throw a tantrum, ignore your boss's request for information, or even quit, but let's not go that far.  Another option is to have a conversation with your boss that could go something like this:
I know you want me to do the very best job possible for you.  I'm feeling a bit hampered in doing that by all of the reporting and checking in that is being asked of me.  In order for me to contribute at the level I know I am capable of doing, I need more freedom and discretion when it comes to decision-making and reporting.  But I also know you are held accountable for everything that is occurring and need to stay informed.  Can we talk about how we might honor both these positions?
Your language might vary, of course.  The point is, we always have more options available to us than we might initially realize or accept.  For some, the conversation above might seem risky, and indeed it might be.  But it is an option available.  As is quitting.  Now you might say, "I could never quit as it would next to impossible to find another job, so I'm stuck here."  Totally understood.  But quitting remains an option, even though it is one with undesirable consequences.

It is too easy to create a world for ourselves in which we opt to believe that we have no options.  Ultimately, portraying ourselves as helpless is rarely very helpful. If we don't acknowledge that we indeed have freedom of choice, we essentially choose to never be free.

2 comments:

Shelley said...

Yes, yes. This is so true. As a great believer in meditation, I've started to learn how much the mind (i.e. the perception of things) can impact reality. And of course, in the process, create lots of struggle and negativity. People sometimes forget that they have the most important choice possible - the choice of letting go.

So Jeff, when are you going to tackle the subject of too many choices?? :)

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Hmm. Too many choices. It's a great topic I'll have to consider. I wonder if the real issue is too many choices or our own internal lack of clarity about the criteria for the choices that are most right for us?

When my choice-making process is 100% clear, I can move rapidly through any number of choices. When it's even the slightest bit cloudy though, even a couple of choices can seem overwhelming.