Accumulation of Consequences of Choices

dreamstime_xs_71641025We are where we are in life because of the choices we have made.  All our choices have consequences.  It is not just a matter of each choice having a consequence (or consequences), however.  Our choices, and the consequences, accumulate and can have a domino effect.

For example, choosing to eat a piece of dessert for a special occasion will not make anyone gain weight.  However, choosing to consume more calories than what one needs, day after day, week after week, year after year, will cause weight gain and can lead to obesity and other health problems.  This is, of course, an example of a series of choices leading to negative consequences.

Choices can also lead to positive consequences.  Exercising for 30 minutes for 1 day is not going to impact anyone’s health.  Exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week, over the course of months and years, however, will have a positive impact on a person’s health.

I know, and I’m sure you do as well, people who lie.  The more they lie, the more people don’t trust them.  The more they are dishonest, the more people believe they are always dishonest, even on the occasions when they are telling the truth.  On the other hand, people who choose to be honest build trust with other people.  People believe what they say.  Both the dishonest and honest people have built reputations—not because of one choice, but because of the series of choices that they have made.

People who continue to make responsible choices gain more of what they want out of life.  Those that continue to make irresponsible choices spend time and resources trying to repair the negative consequences of those choices.  That is time and resources that are not available to create the life they want.  More is spent on damage control than on creating.

This same concept applies to all aspects of our lives, and all the choices we make.  The consequences, good and bad, of our choices over years becomes significant.  If we want a different life, we need to make different choices, not just today, but always.

Girls’ vs. Boys’ Expectations

dreamstime_xs_7301740There are several things I think we should consider related to expectations.

  • What do we expect of girls compared to what do we expect of boys?
  • What do girls and boys expect of each other based upon our expectations?
  • What do girls and boys expect of themselves based upon our expectations?
  • Actions speak louder than words.

I think many people, if asked what they expect of boys, would say things like responsible, independent, self-sufficient, active.  I think that many would say that they expect girls to be nice, nurturing, caring, compassionate.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things.  They are all good things to be.  So why wouldn’t we want to encourage all children to be all these things?  And yet do we do this?  Or are our expectations driven by stereotypes?

We may state in words that we think girls should be independent and self-sufficient.  However, if we continue to do things for her rather than letting her do them for herself, our actions are stating that we want her to be dependent.  Have you ever found that you step in to help a girl with something sooner than you would a boy?  Why?  To take this a bit further, do you reward independence the same way you reward obedience?  Do you expect girls to be more obedient than boys?  Do you expect boys to be assertive when in the same situation you expect girls to be passive?

It is important that we stop to think about what our expectations of boys and girls really are.  Then we need to think about what our actions are really communicating.  Are we sending mixed messages?  Actions do speak louder than words.

Perhaps the most important reason that we need to be aware of our expectations is that children so easily adopt our expectations as to what other people should be and what they, themselves, should be.

(Notice the picture.  What expectations does that set?  That boys can be doctors but girls can only be nurses?  I don’t mean any disrespect to nurses.  I just want to point out that this is a subtle way that expectations are set and stereotypes are continued.)

Don’t be a Princess

dreamstime_xs_57704287, resizedI really dislike all the princess “stuff” that surrounds us.  Maybe it is just me and the way I interpret things.  To me, a “princess” is someone without power, someone who is dependent upon others, someone who waits around to be rescued.  Ugh!

I think what we should work toward is to be a queen (or empress, monarch, tsarina, whatever term you like) and rule our life.

We have power over our life, we have control over our life, so long as we accept that we are responsible for ourselves and our life.  No one can take our power away from us, but we can give it away.  And too often we do.

Which do you want to be?  A princess or a queen?  How do you live your life, as a princess or a queen?  And what do you promote with your daughters, granddaughters, nieces and other girls in your life?

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen (Video Link)dreamstime_xs_40324783, resized

My paternal grandmother’s favorite story was “The Little Red Hen.” I am not sure if it was because she liked the message or that she liked chickens.  (Chickens on a farm were important then.)

For those of you who have not heard the story of the little red hen, or have forgotten it, the basic story line follows. The little red hen found some wheat grains. She wanted to grow and harvest the wheat so she could make bread. At each step in the process (planting, weeding, and harvesting the wheat, grinding it into flour, and making bread) she asked each of the other farm animals if they would help. Each one, at each step, said, “No.” When each one said they would not help, she replied with, “Then I’ll do it myself.” Finally, after months of work, the little red hen had her bread and was sitting down to enjoy the results of her efforts. Each of the farm animals came up and wanted some of her bread. She told each one, “No, I’ll eat it myself.”

There are many people in the world who are like the little red hen. They know what they want and they work hard to make it happen. If they do not get support from others, they do it anyway.

Unfortunately, there are also many people who are like the other farm animals. They want the results, but they do not want to work for them.

This can occur in very obvious ways. For example, there are people who want money, but do not want a job. They want someone else to give them money without giving anything in return.

This can also occur in less obvious ways. For example, there are people who have a job and want to make more money. But they do not want to gain the additional knowledge, skills, or experience necessary to be promoted. They want to receive more without giving more.

Another example is group projects. I hated group projects in college. Usually everyone in the group wanted an “A.” Usually it was me and maybe one other person that was willing to work hard enough to actually earn an “A.”  The same thing happens in work situations.

Think about your professional and personal relationships. In each relationship are you a “little red hen” or are you one of the “farm animals?” Which do you want to be?

Equal Partnerships

dreamstime_xs_32614115Equal Partnerships (Video)

Throughout these blogs we have talked about you.  Your rights.  Your responsibilities.  Your choices.  Your life.

It is necessary to remember, though, that everything we have discussed applies to everyone.  This means, that if you are in a committed relationship, your partner is just as important as you are.  The life he wants is just as important as the life you want.  Not more important, but as important.

I think a committed relationship should be an equal partnership.  Each person should work equally hard, take on equal responsibility, and give as much support as he or she expects to receive.  It is necessary for both people to work together to determine how their life together will meet their individual desires and goals.  It may take some negotiating.

The opposite of an equal partnership is a double standard.  That is where it is all about one person and about what that one person wants.  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about him, can you change things?  If not, is it worth staying in that relationship?  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about you, remember that he has the same rights as you do and can leave you.  You might want to make changes before that happens.

An equal partnership is a beautiful relationship.  I recommend that you always remember that your partner, and what he wants, is as important as you, and what you want.

Greatest Risk

hGreatest Risk (Video)

I think the greatest risk we can take in our lives is not taking responsibility for ourselves, for our lives.

Unfortunately, I know too many people who do not want to take responsibility for themselves, for their choices, for their actions.  They expect other people to bail them out of trouble, to take care of them, to provide for them, to just give them what they want.

I know others who do not really expect other people to take responsibility, but they seem to think that if they sit around and wish for what they want, it will magically happen.

The only sure way to get what we want out of life is to take responsibility for making it happen.  Other people might give us what we want.  Or they might not.  The only way to make sure we do get what we want is to make it happen ourselves.  And that means hard work and dedication.

Are you taking full responsibility for your life?

Here is a simple test.  When something goes wrong, do you take responsibility for it or do you try to blame someone else?  When you try to blame someone else, you are trying to pass on your responsibility.  When you analyze what went wrong and what you could have done differently, you are taking responsibility.

Whatever you want out of life, it is your responsibility to make it happen.

Time Wasters

dreamstimefree_24395Time Wasters (Video)

We all have time wasters.  We all have things that we like to do that does not give us anything in return.  We cannot succeed if we spend time on these items instead of working.

By time wasters, I do not mean hobbies.  We all need to do things to relax, to take our minds off of work, to connect with other people, to grow ourselves in ways other than professionally.  These things help make our life richer.

By time wasters I mean those things that we do that do not contribute to our lives in any way.  For example, my time waster is spider solitaire.  I do not even know why I like it.  I do not like video games and do not like games in general.  But for some reason I like spider solitaire.

So is it a big deal?  A game only takes 5-10 minutes.  The problem is that those 5-10 minutes can really add up during the course of the day.  That is time spent that cannot be spent on anything else, work or hobby.

What time wasters are stealing time away from your professional or personal pursuits?  You cannot succeed by playing spider solitaire!

Under-promise and Over-deliver

Scotty (Video)

Do you remember Scotty from the original Star Trek series?  Scotty developed the reputation of a miracle-worker.  His secret was that he consistently under-promised and over-delivered.  (Alright, he was also exceptional at what he did.)  Captain Kirk would ask him how long it would take to fix something.  “Three days, Cap’n.”  “We only have three hours!” And Scotty would fix it in three hours (or whatever the time frame happened to be).

We can all learn a lesson from Scotty.  This blog provides additional information to the attached video clip.  The clip is from an assertiveness presentation I did for The Business Building Academy.

In my presentation on assertiveness, Don’t Act Like Prey!, I discuss the three R’s of assertiveness: relationships, rights, and respect.  In this presentation, I used the customer/supplier relationship as an example and we discussed the rights of each party.  In this clip, we are discussing that the customer has the right to expect what is promised and how the supplier can use Scotty from Star Trek to help make sure that the promises are kept.

It is imperative that promises are kept.  And it is acceptable to build a buffer for yourself because things do happen.  For example, if you promise a customer something in one week, and deliver in two weeks, the customer will be upset because you were a week late.  If you promise it in three weeks, and deliver it in two, the customer will be thrilled because you are early.  In each case the customer has it in two weeks.  In the first example, though, you look horrible.  In the second, you are a hero.  Which will help your business more?

This concept can be used in your personal life as well as your professional life.  Do you under-promise and over-deliver?

 

Keep Your Word

hKeep Your Word (Video)

It is imperative that we keep our word, no matter what.

When we keep our word, people learn that they can trust us.  When we do not keep our word, people quickly learn that we cannot be trusted.  It can take years to correct that reputation.

We must, of course, keep our promises.  The surest way to do this is to not make promises unless we are sure we can keep them.  A small promise fulfilled is much more valuable than a large promise left uncompleted.  As we keep our promises, people learn that they can trust us.

We must also follow through on our threats.  The surest way to do this is to never make a threat unless we are willing and able to carry it out.  As soon as we make a threat and then do not carry it out, people learn that they do not need to respect us.

Keeping your word applies to both our professional and personal relationships.  Stop and think what your employer, employees, customers, and suppliers will think of you if you make promises and do not keep them.  It does not take much imagination to see how damaging this will be to you and your success.

The same applies to threats.  If you threaten to dismiss an employee, you have to be willing to do so or you send a message to all your employees that they do not need to listen to you.  The same applies to suppliers.  If you threaten to drop a supplier if they do not meet certain criteria, you have to move to another supplier if they do not meet the criteria.

Not keeping your word can be just as damaging in personal relationships.  What will your spouse/partner, children, relatives, friends, and neighbors think of you if you do not keep your word?  Soon you will have taught them that they cannot trust you, that they cannot count on you.

I think the most damage comes when parents do not keep their word with their children.  If children cannot trust their parents to keep their promises, who can they trust?  Also, if parents do not follow through on their threats, children learn very quickly that there are not any negative consequences to their negative actions.  This will not help the child succeed in life.

Before you make a promise, or a threat, determine how you are going to complete it.  If you cannot, then do not make it.

No Magic Pill

hNo Magic Pill (Video)

Sorry, but there is no magic pill.  There is nothing that we can take that will make us healthy, wealthy, or wise.  There is no magic potion or spell that will give us the life we want.

All we can do is to learn everything we can, implement as much as we can, and work as hard as we can for the life we want.