How do leaders make choices?

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This week we have been talking to our students about making choices and decisions.  Making choices is based on what is best for the group or even for us as an individual is what leaders do.  So how do the best leaders make their choices?

The simple answer is you need to consider what the results will be, the good and the bad that will come from the choice.  One way of approaching that is to make a list of the “pros and cons”.  Weighing the pros and cons, and I like to write them down,  will help us to see the consequences – good or bad- that will result from either direction we may take. 

Some choices may be very simple, while others may have more impact on our lives and our happiness.  For instance choosing whether we get a pet or not get a pet, we will weigh out how much fun it will be vs how much work is involved.  We may even weigh the differences and the affects of choosing a dog or a cat.  It may be that an iguana might be the perfect pet for us.

Other choices may be more difficult.  What if we had to choose between going out for a school play or spending more time on school work.  There will be many things to consider both in short term and long term goals that we have.  All leaders need to make these tough decisions and sometimes we are not really sure what to do.  We want to remember that leaders do not have to know all the answers.  They do need to have around them others that they trust though. 

If you are a student you have your parents that you can go to and talk about your list of pros and cons to help you come to a good choice for you.  You may even have other adults in your life that you may want to ask how they see a situation.  Even your friends may be available to speak to, although you do need to be careful that you do not only seek out the advice of those that you think will agree with you. 

If you are an adult it may be your partner or someone in the organization that you work for that may be there for you to bounce ideas off.  It may be a trusted friend or an advisor or for many of us we may have a mentor that we can talk to.  But in the end it is us as the leader that must make the final decisions.  As a leader we do not want to “pass the buck” or even avoid risk-taking completely.  We do want to make informed decisions that with all the information at hand will be best for those that are following us.

Gratitude in the bad times

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It is not hard to be thankful when we are in the good times.  When everything is going our way and we are happy, everyone is getting along and times are feeling the best, we can be thankful for many things very easily.  It is when we are not happy, when we are feeling sad, frustrated, disappointed, angry or even envious that being able to see the things we have to be thankful about requires more work.
For me this comes back to how we talk to ourselves, and listening to the words and feelings of others that may bring us back to our ‘attitude of gratitude’.  Yesterday was not my best day of being a teacher.  I had been disappointed in a few students at the begining of the day and somehow I allowed this to affect my teaching style the rest of the day.
Has that ever happened to you?  Your disappointed by something or someone and you feel like you need to fix everything right now in this very day or moment.  What I should have done is as soon as I could see and feel this disappointment, is step back and look at what I have to be thankful for and meditate on that for a few minutes.  Had I done that I am sure I would have spent the rest of the day in a better frame of mind, and maybe even taught a better class.
I have said this before but I will repeat this again, for my own benefit.  You never accomplish your goals or be your best when you are trying or acting out of fear or anger.  It is only when you act out and respond to challenges and situations from a place of love and gratitude that you are able to reach your goals. I will continue to work on this and if you have ever had similar experience I would like to hear about them.  Sometimes it helps to know that we are not the only one that has an experience like the one I described.

Gratitude Trumps Worry

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Have you ever known someone that is constantly worrying?  If is not one thing it is another.  In fact I have known some who not only worry about bad things that could happen, but even when things are going really well they have to worry about when it is going to stop being good and maybe something bad will happen.
Interestingly worry is always about the future, the next minute, the next hour, what might happen or might not happen.  The worrier always projects themselves into the future and imagine something bad happening.
Andre’ Dubus said, “It is not hard to live a day if you can live through a moment.  What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand.”
Gratitude brings you back to the present moment, it reminds you that right now things are pretty good.  It reminds you that so far you have received many things, and chances are you will continue to be supported on your journey through life.  That support may come in ways that you never guessed or chosen for yourself.
Don’t all of us have so much to be thankful for?  Today I am thankful that I get to see a group of students come in and with so much excitement test for their next rank.  They and their parents make me smile and remind me of when my own children had special days.