Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Right and Power to Decide

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” – Steven Covey

“Sorry to push you around” was a comment made last week by someone asking me to change my schedule to accommodate another’s. I thought about that for a long time. Do I let people push me around? Rarely. Is it because I have to be in total control of everything? No. Being in total control means being inflexible. I’m very flexible within reason.

What amazed me the most about that comment was how it didn’t push any buttons. That really made me smile. I can’t count how many times I hear how people turn themselves into proverbial pretzels to please someone else. They cancel last minute, do anything to “make the sale” charge rates so below their worth because they want to get the client. They twist themselves, turn themselves inside out to accommodate anyone and everyone else in the world other than themselves and when things fall apart they can’t for the lives of themselves figure out why.

We can’t as coaches teach freedom of tolerations and being ‘problem-free’ if we don’t live that freedom. We can’t ask anyone if they’re living their lives in congruence with their personal values and ethics if we don’t seem to have them.

If I cancel one client and shuffle my schedule to please another, then I’m minimizing the importance of the first client. And if I keep canceling things in my private life to fit one more person in, I’m of no value to anyone…the client or myself, for what I am teaching by personal example?

How often do you push aside your core values to fit in? …. to make a few extra dollars, get that one new client? What would that say about you?

To take it to a more personal level, how many times have you cancelled a date, lunch, get-together of some sort with a friend, family member, someone close to you because something better came along or someone else made demands of your time? What message does that give to the person you’ve asked for a rain-cheque with? And before I get a slew of emails giving me all the exceptions to what I just said such as emergencies an unscheduled work trips etc., that’s not what I’m talking about.

Think about it for a moment. It’s telling the person you cancelled on they’re not as important as a couple of tickets to something, a lunch with someone else who is more important or more socially connected.

As a human being it’s telling one person they have more value in my eyes than another. As a professional, it’s telling one existing client they’re not as important as another potential new client. In that case I am not worthy of either of them. And as a person I would have few personal ethics if I would minimize anyone for the sake of another.

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” (Covey) And our ultimate responsibility is to realise how we affect everyone else around us because of our choices.

Donna Karlin

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