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How do you respond to life?

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Have you ever met someone so calm, so confident and poised, so unflappable in a crisis that their mere presence made you feel safe and completely at ease? Some consider such people charismatic leaders, yet most are simply practiced at making really good choices, such that even the worst of life just seems to bead off their backs.

I was blessed to coach high school boys’ varsity basketball for nine years, retiring from that wonderfully rewarding activity in 2003 to open a second office in Arizona. At the start of each season, I gave our young men a speech. Citing statistics that showed that less than one-tenth of one percent of Division 1 high school players ever went on to make their living in the sport, I asked, “So why work so hard to get good at something that’ll never contribute a single dollar toward your future livelihood? What can all of us get out of this season that we can apply for the rest of our lives?”

I went on to explain that, should someone from another team throw a hard elbow at one of them, deliberately when the refs weren’t looking, they’d have a choice as to how to respond to it — and that choice could have grave consequences. Future choices they’d make in life would have consequences too, like success and wealth, arrest and prison, marriage or divorce, contentment or regret, longevity or an early death. I ended by telling them that the young men that they’d become, while pursuing their athletic ambition and the respect of their peers, would be far more impactful to their future success in life than the points, rebounds or assists they’d collect on a stat sheet: “Choices have consequences. This season will teach you to make better choices.”

How do you show up?

How do you show up in daily life, in your community, industry, or in the eyes of your clients and staff? When you witness another patron verbally abuse a server at a restaurant, do you make it your mission to brighten her day with a generous tip and a kind word? When you see military men and women in uniform seated in an airport restaurant, do you quietly and anonymously buy their dinners — or even thank them for their service? When an inappropriate or difficult client mistreats a member of your staff, do you address the client’s behavior to them calmly and privately as “unacceptable,” or do you excuse it, telling her “it’s a part of the job, because the customer is always right?”

Who have you become, via the life choices you’ve made, while pursuing your personal and business goals, and would others agree with your assessment? If not, resolve to make better choices. The consequences will astound you.

For more from Thomas K. Brueckner, see:

The road warrior handicap … and the home field advantage

Why specialization makes sense

Branding your practice