The Path…Harnessing the Power of Choices!

By Martin Houston

Life is full of ups and downs, successes and failures, fears and forfeits.  But one thing holds true: the end result depends on the choices we make. 

Such choices, proactive or reactive, put our life on a path of success, failure or mediocrity!  Some of us begin life with advantages or disadvantages, but the start does not determine the end.  Today, you are in one of a few positions—content with life, hungry for more, or dissatisfied with the status quo.  Regardless which one, there is no guarantee nor mandate that you will stay there or must stay there!  This article was penned to help you deal with this status, whether you are content, hungry or dissatisfied.  Remember this truth: the power of choices will set the path of your life.  If you don’t like the path you are on and want to change, or you like the path you are on and want to stay on it, then make your choices wisely.  Why?  Because you can only become what you want to be based on the choices you are making today.

There are multiple keys to harnessing the power of choices while on one’s path which include these 5 Keys to "Harnessing the Power of Choices”:

  1. It’s Game Time: Life is a journey and we all travel it!  But it’s not just any journey.  It is full of twists and turns, and if we don’t have a game plan or “process”, as Nick Saban calls it, you will be destroyed by it.  We must embrace the reality that life is like a game and without a process of how to attack, react and rebound from the ups and downs of your choices, you do not stand a chance to succeed.

  2. The Game’s Toughest Choices: Once your game plan/process is established, commit to follow it and share it with others!  However, don’t be so tied up in it that you are unwilling to adjust and tweak it.  For example, Nick Saban was willing to change his process and evolve over time as a coach.  Whether it was a change in recruiting a different type of player or modifying his offensive philosophy, he made the change.  Coach Paul Bryant was also willing to change his offensive approach when he implemented the Wishbone Offense.  These great coaches made choices that went against their traditional approaches.  The result could have been disastrous, but instead they led to national championships.  They were great coaches before, yet they had to evolve to stay relevant and on top of their game. This is often overlooked, but the toughest choices are not when things are bad, but when things are good.  The game plan/process serves to keep us on track and comes into play when we desire to move from being good to becoming great.  The toughest choices you face are choices between good, better, and best!  Generally, movement up this scale is accompanied by increased risk.  Remember, with great risk comes great reward!

  3. You Don’t Play the Game Alone: Life is much like an athlete’s journey to the championship game.  He/she can’t get there alone and must be aware of the influence of coaches, teammates, and his/her own past experiences.  How you play the game at hand is directly influenced by these three factors.  “Harnessing the Power of Choices” is directly impacted by peer pressure, perspective and our past.  Your peers/teammates unknowingly will influence the path you choose, even when it is clearly different than what you want.  Alternatively, they can also influence you to make better choices!  It is important to have teammates who challenge you to choose the higher path.  Coaches can be the most influential people in the world, especially for young people.  Their influence directly impacts your perspective.  However, perspective is like a coin—it can be true for one and not another.  For example, if we make a choice based on a coin—you see heads and I see tails—then our perspective would cause us to choose two different paths!  Solution: Try to see both sides (perspectives).  Lastly, past experiences will impact future choices.  Your past will limit you or drive you forward.  The positive: your past gives you the confidence to take future risks.  The negative: your past will cause you to bypass great opportunities - the so called “assumed constraint” factor where the process of assuming your past failures determines your future outcomes.  Let your past teach you, but not constrain you!

  4. The 1% Rule: This is a very simple yet powerful rule that will drive you forward as you make choices!  If you don’t like the direction of your life, make new, different, and better choices.  Remember, “You can only become what you are becoming today,” and your choices are leading the way.  Most of us will try to change everything, all at once.  The secret: make small changes daily that lead to big changes over time.  For example, a trip from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham is not impacted much by a 1% change in calculation.  However, a trip to China would be totally changed by the same 1% change.  Life is a long journey—make the 1% change today and arrive at your destiny!

  5. The Second Wind: The last point to “Harnessing the Power of Choices” is the ability to stay in the race until you get your second wind.  The power of persistence serves you greatly in this thing we call life!  If you’ve quit at the first sign of pain or because you fell behind, don’t fret.  Stay the course and persevere. Victory may well be in your reach.  Be the tortoise and not the hare by refusing to allow distractions and pride to unduly influence you.  Most people have a desire to win, but very few have the will to prepare to win.  Which are you?  Were you born to win, but your choices may have caused you to lose? It’s not too late! “Harness the Power of Choices” and “The Path” will lead you home.

If you find yourself questioning the choices you made in the past or where you see yourself going in the future, try to remember these five keys to harnessing the power of choices. There are many curve balls in life, as well as many different paths to choose, but you have control in the choices you make to see yourself succeed. No matter where you start from—a place of contentment, a place where you are hungry for more opportunities or a place where you are down on your luck—remember that you must choose your path, maintain your process for success, and evolve as needed.

About the Author

Martin Houston, former member of the 1992 Alabama National Championship Team, is CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) at The Empowerment Center in Tuscaloosa.  He is a keynote speaker at many of the leadership programs offered by Bama at Work.

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