What resilient people do when they make the wrong choice

‘Quiet please… please be quiet… quiet… QUIEEEEEEEEEET… SHUT UP!!!!!!’

Suddenly the heated debate came to a halt and all eyes were on me. I could feel a bead of nervous perspiration form on my forehead. I only asked a simple question and you’d have thought the survival of mankind as we know it depended on the answer. One at a time I looked each person squarely in the eye and said…

This blog is longer than usual but the story illustrates an important point about the decisions we make and the fear we sometimes have of making the wrong choice.

I’ve been fortunate in my work as a professional speaker on resilience to see a little of the world… not since lockdown, obviously, but hey. Last week when chatting to a fellow speaker we reminisced of times gone by and how we missed being on stage but adapted to presenting online.

I was reminded of an event a few years ago when a client invited me to speak in Milan. I decided to stay over an extra day after the event to do some sightseeing and soak up a little of the local culture.

My hotel was on the outskirts of the city and I wanted to visit the city centre. Being in an adventurous mood I chose to travel by public transport. Luckily the bus terminus was a couple of hundred meters from my hotel.

My plan was to visit ‘Il Duomo’ (Milan Cathedral) first… what could possibly go wrong?

By the way, my mother was Italian, I’m not fluent in Italian but good enough to understand what’s been said and be understood.

So off I trot and after a few minutes I arrive at the terminus and there, bang smack in the middle, is one solitary bus. I approach the conductor and ask (in Italiano, of course), ‘Could you please tell me the best way to get to Il Duomo?’

‘You’re on the right bus,’ he replies, ‘I’ll tell you which stop to get off and then you’ll have to take the tube for a couple of stops. When it’s time for you to get off the bus I’ll give you further directions then.’

A woman clears her throat and politely interrupts, ‘Aherm, aherm, surely he’d be better getting the 584 bus which takes him just a couple of streets behind the Cathedral?’

‘No, no,’ squawks a man sat two seats away, ‘He needs the 79 bus then he only needs to travel one stop on the tube and that brings him directly in front of the Cathedral.’

‘You’re wrong, ’booms a voice from behind me, ‘It’s the 103 bus you need to take not the 79 so when you get on the tube one stop later you’ll arrive at the front of the cathedral.’

Five more people join in the debate and after what seemed like an hour but was in actual fact a few minutes, the ‘discussion’ becomes very heated with each person as passionate as the other as to which is the right and/or easier route to take to the Cathedral. The noise becomes unbearable as the group almost comes to blows. I couldn’t contain myself and found myself saying…

‘Quiet please… please be quiet… quiet… QUIEEEEEEEEEET… SHUT UP!!!!!!!’

Suddenly the heated debate came to a halt and all eyes were on me. I could feel a bead of sweat form on my forehead. I only asked a simple question and you’d have thought the survival of mankind as we know it depended on the answer. One at a time I looked each person squarely in the eye and said…

‘I appreciate you’re all wanting to help, thank you. I’m a tourist, I’m in no rush so it doesn’t really matter which route I take as long as I get there safely.’

I listened to their opinions and… made a choice.

In our work and lives we are continuously making choices. Do I eat cake or shall I have some fruit instead? Do I save or do I spend my hard earned cash? Do I say something to this person about their behaviour or not? We’re making choices all day long, especially during these challenging times of the pandemic.

If we need to make an important decision we might ask for advice. If we ask more than one person, we can often receive varying opinions to achieve the same thing.

Quite often we know the answers already, we just need our decision to be validated or to acquire permission to do something.

Now here’s something I’ve learnt in life, please read it then make up your own mind whether it serves you or not and if it does make sense, use it.

Whatever you choose to achieve or not achieve in life, the responsibility is yours, and yours alone. Listen to what others have to say, learn from their experiences and make up your own mind. Choose the action to take and then take responsibility for your success… or lack of it.

Give yourself permission to get things wrong. If you make a decision that costs you dearly, do your best not to beat yourself up about it, BE KIND TO YOURSELF, learn from it and move on.

I’ve managed to keep my business afloat since 1989 and a little while ago, using the principles I use in business, I lost 100 lbs (45 Kgs) of unwanted flab. Did I make mistakes along the way? Sure, and I’ve learnt from the experience.

When I was in Milan, the route I chose to take may have taken me a little longer than another route. Along the way I took a wrong turn or two but got back on course and eventually arrived at my destination and more importantly I arrived safely.

Two things occurred to me about resilient and successful people. They all had help, they all took advice from someone, they listened to what was said and then… made a choice. They made a choice on the course of action to take and they took responsibility for their choices and actions.

Think about the successes you’ve had and I bet somewhere along the line you had help. It might have been an introduction to someone, a suggestion of where to go, moral support or whatever and ultimately it was up to you to make a choice and take action. And, you took action.

All, if not most, resilient and successful people are failures.

WOW! Now that IS a bold statement and it’s true.

You see, before they achieved their goal they made mistakes along the way, they failed. ALL of them are still making mistakes after their successes they’re just managing those errors as best they can with what they’ve got, guess what? They’re just like the rest of us.

Sometimes what we think is a good choice turns out to be a poor choice. Sometimes what we think is a poor decision turns out to be an excellent one.

During these very ‘different’ times we’ll be making choices and some decisions will be very difficult to make. Some of the choices you make you may not be happy with.

Consider your options carefully, ask for help if you need to, make a choice and take action.

If you don’t get the result you want, do not beat yourself up. Remember, you’re doing the best you can with the resources you have. Be kind to yourself. Stay focused on what you want to achieve and try try try again and keep on trying.

Are you ready to take responsibility for your own achievements and success? I know it can be tough but if so, hang on… it’s going to be a great ride… and worthwhile too.

Talking of rides, I must dash now I have a taxi waiting for me… or should I take the bus, or… ;)

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