Here we are in late January 2018. Around the world, individuals, organizations, and countries are allocating time to set measurable goals for the coming year. Individuals make optimistic resolutions to get their weight down, workout six days a week, spend quality time with their families and get organized. Goals within organizations typically last longer. Especially when the goal makers are held accountable for the results. Resolutions? Seldom do they produce lasting results or survive beyond Valentine’s Day!
Make Decisions that Lead to Action
Maybe it’s a matter of semantics or my own experience, but when it comes to producing lasting positive outcomes, I find the way to go is to instead make decisions that lead to action. At age 10, I decided someday I wanted to go to college if only God would provide the ability and means for me to do so. Despite discouragement at home to even think of such a thing, my determination to do “whatever it takes” increased. I worked to get good grades, take college prep courses, work and save money to open doors of opportunity.
My greatest break was being awarded a full-tuition scholarship for four years of undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. This put in place the foundation for going back to graduate school 25 years later, the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself. To this day, the benefits accrue.
Tony Robbins once said, “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” I encourage you to consider decisions you’ve made that are foundational to where you are today.
Making Decisions that Allow us to Grow
The summer between our freshman and sophomore years at MSU, a friend and I worked at a luxury hotel in downtown Detroit. Two small-town women working in “the city,”. Dressing each day for work in heels and making hotel reservations for people all over the world was indeed a heady experience. Except for one thing: our training included, “When someone calls who doesn’t match our guest criteria, regardless of the requested date, you are to tell them we’re completely booked. If they persist or ask to be booked on other dates, you are to keep repeating the same message to them until they hang up or go somewhere else.”
I had never heard anything like it! At age 18 I thought, “That must be the way the adult world works.” My conclusion before the summer was over, however, was much different, “This is wrong and I will never, ever work anywhere again where I’m asked to do something against my principles.” And I never have. And yet, I know from my years in business, clients I’ve coached and stories from friends, that ethically challenged organizations and individuals of all types are asked to do things they know to be wrong. Sometimes it’s the things that make us uncomfortable—or even angry that cause us to grow. How have you handled situations like this? If you’re in such a situation now, what decision are you willing to make that will make a difference?
What Decisions do You Need to Make?
People who know me today may doubt that I was once hampered in being my best by putting others’ needs and wants ahead of my own to the extent I didn’t even know what my needs and wants were. I was 30 years old before I learned the futility of trying to please someone who chooses not to be pleased. Who do you have in your life who chooses not to be pleased? What decision do you need to make? I agree with Caroline Kennedy who said, “When you make the right decision, it doesn’t really matter what others think.”
Other decisions that were life-changing for me include co-founding a small takeout food business with Jim. We were in our twenties and converted our garage for the business. Vice President of Saluto Foods for 13 years, President of our own in-house advertising agency for seven, and mother of four, I was exhausted and totally worn down from wearing so many hats.
When Jim came home for dinner one evening, I met him at the door with this decision. “You want me to work with you, live with you and love you. I can do any two of the three but I can’t do all three anymore.” It was then that I became full-time mother and work from home consultant and sounding board. With five publicly held companies pursuing us, we decided the time had come to sell and we did sell just six months shy of 13 years to a Fortune 100 company.
Seeing Change as an Opening to Opportunities.
For the first time in as many years, I was facing the question, “Now what?”. Have you faced that question? It can be an empty and desolate feeling. There’s always the fear that there may never again be anything interesting or challenging or rewarding for you to do. But there is…there always is.
So much has happened since then. I went to work on myself—soul-searching, assessing and updating my skills by going to Graduate School. There I met interesting people who were also taking risks in anticipation of doing interesting things with their lives. Building on my college minor and business experience I opened and operated a full-service Interior Design business in St. Joseph, MI. Six years later we moved to Nevada for four years and came back to Michigan to enjoy the summers. When Jim and I moved back to Grand Rapids, so many other good things happened including opening two other businesses: High-Impact Marketing Services, and then High-Impact Coaching & Consulting for a combined total of more than 25 years operating my own businesses—always learning—always contributing.
Make the decision to begin today.
Making decisions and acting on opportunities brought me satisfaction, friendships, contacts and rewards that money can’t buy. I tell you these things not to impress you. Rather impress upon you the possibilities there are for all of us to get ahead and succeed. I know that you also have gifts that you can develop. Make the decision to begin today. Start by soul-searching, getting additional training, beefing up your credentials and updating your skills. If you’re facing the question, “Now what?” I urge you to see it for the opportunity it is. Stop looking for guarantees and high starting wages. Instead, take risks, take action, give whatever you do your very best and see where it takes you. You may be very pleasantly surprised.
© Judith DeLapa High-Impact 2018