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The Power of HOW You Choose

I often remember my Nana very fondly for the offbeat sayings she would sprinkle into an otherwise mundane conversation. One of her favorites came when anyone would make the mistake of demanding or implying what Nana would “have to” do. Her response, without hesitation was “All I have to do is be black and die.” Understandably, this may seem like a narrow perspective, but her point was made clear. Occasionally, when she felt generous, Nana would add “pay taxes”. Man, how I miss that woman!

The point is, many of us walk around feeling like we have limited choices in many aspects of our lives. Take notice of how many times a day you say the words have to, should, and need to. Whenever you feel like you must do something, you’re in Level 1 energy – you’re at the effect of your thoughts or circumstances.

In fact, when you’re faced with a task or something to do, there are five basic ways you can respond, and of them, only one is by full conscious choice.

The five ways of responding are

  • “I won’t”

  • “I have to”

  • “I need to”

  • “I want to”

  • “I choose to”

When you say “I won’t” do something, you’re saying that you have no power, that

life happens to you, no matter what you do or believe. You don’t believe that you have a choice. You also don’t really think there’s anything in it for you – so why do it?

If you say “I have to,” you’re looking at the short term perspective. You “have to” complete the task in front of you, or else you will experience dire consequences. You feel forced to do it, and that you have very little to no choice.

The third response, “I need to” is a more powerful place to come from. Here, you’re aware of your choices and you seek to find the opportunity in the challenges presented to you. This perspective brings more chance of success, but it’s still catabolic, because you don’t feel like you’re fully at choice.

These three responses involve either non-action, or action by force. Since you are not energetically bought into a situation, goal, or project, and because you are bringing catabolic energy to it, you are also bringing a recipe for failure. In these catabolic levels, even though you may think you are choosing to do something, at your core, you chose not to do it, or not to do it well.

The next response, “I want to,” is anabolic, because it indicates that you are mostly at choice. But, “want” still comes from a place of lack.

The most powerful response is “I choose to.” When you respond this way, you feel you have complete choice. There’s a powerful connection between who you are and what you do.

So how do you get to “choose to”? Simply come from a place of having everything, and choosing to experience it, rather than fill a need. Easy? Not at all, but you can choose to try it.


Ready to RESET (Review/Energize/Strategize/Empower/Take Action)? Get started today and find out the power in your leadership levels with an Energy Leadership Index assessment. It’s like a credit report for your attitudes about work and life.

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