Choices Determine Circumstances

Choices Determine Circumstances

Circumstance and choice. No, it is not the name of a new soap opera series on cable television. It is a fundamental leadership principle regarding the importance of our attitude in achieving success. The principle states that our circumstances do not determine our choices; our choices determine our circumstances. Put another way, we can consciously choose to have a positive attitude and see every situation, even if difficult, as an opportunity to deliver results, develop ourselves and serve others.

During a meeting last week, a manager expressed dissatisfaction with a channel partner’s performance. They said, “I do not expect much from them this quarter.” The manager’s comment was an example of letting their circumstance (partner’s performance) determine their choice (expectation level). Instead of viewing the situation as an opportunity (how can I help the partner be successful?), the manager chose to view it as a liability. The situation affected their perspective when their perspective should have affected the situation.

People generally perform at the expectation level set for them. In the example above, the bar should continually be set high for the channel partner. Where the bar is met, success should be celebrated. Where the bar is not met, the issue should be addressed. Problems should be addressed horizontally first (person-to-person) before being addressed vertically (escalated to management). Why? Because the ability to positively influence others is a critical skill for leaders. The greater a leader’s influence, the greater their effectiveness.

Choose not to see interactions as transactions; chose to see them as opportunities to add value. Choose to see people as assets versus adversaries. Choose to be a problem-solver versus a problem-spotter. See every situation as an opportunity to deliver, develop and serve. Be a catalyst for demonstrating and initiating positive change. There is a key difference between how we feel about something (circumstance) and how we manage our feelings about it (choice). Remember, it is what happens in you, not to you, that matters most.

All contents copyright © 2010, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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