By Pete Smith
The word “please.” A simple “thank you.” A handwritten note. Sometimes the simplest of gestures create the biggest impact in our lives – at home and at work.
Equally as powerful is the elimination of one phrase from our conversations – “I didn’t have a choice.”
A significance-based mindset recognizes that in every moment, of every day, in every situation, we always have a choice. What we don’t always like are the options from which we get to choose or the outcomes of our decisions.
All too often, individuals, teams and organizations spend their time lamenting on the difficulty of the situation they face. When none of their options are convenient, easy or even desirable, it becomes easy to say they have no choice. When the outcome of their decision is not exactly what they had hoped or planned, it becomes easy to say they had no choice.
When one or both of these situations present themselves, the temptation exists to begin making excuses about their actions, or to place blame on someone or something else as to why they “had to” make the decision they made. At times, people may even rationalize their decision in order to make their decision make sense to the person with whom they are speaking.
Of course, no excuse, or blame or rationalization actually matters. It rarely changes the current position that someone is in. What matters is the simple acceptance that a choice was made in light of the options, an outcome was produced, and the next steps can now be considered.
We can want or prefer that things were different. We can be subjective in our thoughts and feelings about our options and the outcomes of our choices. However, we must also remain objective regarding the reality that we always have a choice.
If you want to increase accountability, responsibility, ownership and engagement at work, eliminate “I didn’t have a choice” from your conversations, and start encouraging people to ask, “What do I choose to do next?” The former creates a mindset that life is being done “to us,” and we’re simply the victims of circumstance. The latter reminds us that we’re still the ones steering the ship.
You don’t need a huge incentive program to start getting people engaged and motivated at work. Sometimes they just need to be reminded that, in good times and in bad, they always have a choice.
Little things matter, and that includes being more mindful that we always get to choose our next step.
Pete Smith is an international speaker and coach in the fields of leadership, management, personal growth and development. His experience, concepts and tools have helped organizations improve their leadership effectiveness, elevate engagement at all levels, transform company cultures, and consistently perform at high levels. He is author of “Dare to Matter,” which reached #1 Best Seller in the Human Resources and Personnel Management category and #2 Best Seller in the Business Motivation and Self-Improvement Category. “Dare to Matter” is available on Amazon.
Smith recently served as the keynote presenter for the Sports Turf Managers Association’s 2021 Virtual Conference and Exhibition.
This article originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of SportsField Management, sister publication to Landscape Business.