One word to change your life
Could there be such a thing?
What is the one word that changed the lives of Nelson Mandela and the whole South African nation; Mahatma Gandhi and millions of Indians; the Wright Brothers and the whole of humanity; Abraham Lincoln and millions of slaves; Arjuna Ranatunga and millions of Sri Lankan cricket fans?
The one word that we have total control over?
Well I will give you time to mull over this a little more while I tell you the story of Saman.
Saman – his success story
Saman was a boy living in a tiny house with his mother and older brothers and sisters. Saman’s father is unfortunately not with them – as he is a thief and is in jail. Saman’s mother and siblings are also thieves – however they have not been caught as yet! Saman’s whole neighborhood is made up of thieves. And Saman too – is not being sent to school – but rather is being also trained to be a thief.
So what are the chances of Saman – growing up and becoming a responsible, successful citizen, doing a great job – not as a thief – but doing something which benefits society and himself? None at all! Are you sure! Is there even a 0.001 % chance or 0.0001% chance? Well if there is even the slightest possibility – then there still is a possibility isn’t it! So this could happen. Saman could become a responsible, successful – citizen. But how! By owning the magic word – that can change our lives and also the life of Saman.
Can anyone tell us with certainty that Saman cannot be successful or that if we want to do something we cannot! Again definitely not. So the learning here is – if there is the smallest possibility – that is still a possibility we can hang onto. And that is what made Saman successful as well.
The magic word
Are you any closer to getting it? Well it’s very simple really. The word that made everyone who was and is great – great! And the word that made you and I who we are – and the word that can also change who we are today and into the future. Very powerful isn’t it!
And the word is …. Drum roll please ….. Choice! Yes – I told you it was really simple. It is the choices we make every single day and every moment that make us who we are – a great success or not so successful; blissfully happy or not so happy, etc.
What do you think! Isn’t it so?
Lessons from the Famous
Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years. He is released – and makes the choice to join with his persecutors and build a new South Africa.
Mahatma Gandhi – makes the choice to fight for independence with civil disobedience and non-violence.
Arjuna Ranatunga decides to take a chance – be radical – and instruct his opening batsman to play over the top right from the first ball. Choice again that resulted in the uplifting of all Sri Lankan’s and giving millions a reason to celebrate. This choice – changed the face of cricket globally forever.
The great benefit to us
So do we agree that it is choices that have brought us thus far in our lives? If we do – we become immensely powerful. So if we are successful it is because of choices we have made and not because of our family, boss, spouse, circumstances, etc., and if we are not happy and feel we could be more successful – again it is because of choices we have made – and not our family, boss, environment, etc. If we truly believe this – it also means we have control of our lives and our destiny. Why! Because if it is our choices that is determining our life – if we don’t like the results we can make different choices. But if our life is being determined by circumstances or by other people – then there is nothing we can do other than go with the flow.
The greatest issue we could have is learned helplessness which happens when we don’t see that we have a choice and therefore feel helpless, alone, and scared. A research was done on two groups of mice – where both groups were given mild electric shocks when they didn’t expect it – at random times. One group of mice (Group A) couldn’t control the duration of the shock given. But the second group (Group B) learned to switch off the electricity by pressing on a lever. Although initially both groups were highly stressed out – after sometime Group B learned to switch off the current and therefore reduced their stress levels and were not seem to be anxious and afraid. The first group however (Group A) actually got sick and died after a short time. As they felt they couldn’t control their circumstances and felt helpless.
Having choice – but failing to accept it
Like the mice – sometimes we do have a choice – but we fail to see it – or to accept it. For we always have a choice. As I see it – even the choice to say – I don’t have a choice! For example I was doing a training program for a group of senior bankers when one of them told me that she got into banking not by choice – but because her parents wanted her to. And she was adamant that she had no choice in the matter. Her parents had forced her to take up banking as a career and also to pass the banking exams, etc. (I am not sure how anyone could force another person to study and pass an exam by the way – but this is what she said). She was refusing to see that she actually had a choice, i.e., the choice of following the advice of her parents or not! A tough choice no doubt – but nevertheless a choice. But in this lady’s case – she had CHOSEN to accept that she had NO CHOICE. But this too is a choice isn’t it?
We can’t choose the environmental changes that occur – but we have the choice to choose our response
Let’s say it rains while we are walking down a street! There is absolutely nothing we can do about it. We cannot stop the rain. However we can choose – how we respond to it! We can choose to scold the rain and be annoyed; take shelter somewhere; or even decide to walk in the rain – maybe jump into a puddle and have some fun like when we were kids. All choices – and the good news is the choice is ours!