Stop, Look and Listen
By Carla Perrotta
Throughout the course of our daily endeavors, we all face numerous personal and professional decisions. What will my attitude be today? What will be my level of care? Will I address a long simmering professional conflict? Will I look for ways to improve my performance? Will I look for a new job?
How we respond to each and every decision determines, in large measure, our performance and fulfillment on the job and in our lives.
Whether were approaching an intersection in the road or one in our lives, the same rules apply.
As we approach intersections on the highway, we drive more attentively, heeding oncoming traffic, and evaluating the need for a change in direction. To ignore these precautions can spell disaster.
So it is with life. To ignore intersections in our lives, risks breakage and wreckage in our relationships. Just as when we are driving, we must adhere to the rules of the road as we approach crossroads in our lives.
Read and heed the signs.
Highway signs warn us of approaching intersections. It is normal to be apprehensive as we come to these crossroads. Do not let that apprehension freeze you. Rather let it prepare you for the decision that needs to be made.
Our perception of the intersection can be extremely helpful in deciding which direction to take. Often just a small shift in perspective changes how we react to a situation or condition, ultimately affecting the way we approach the intersection. Consider the story of the small town that rested on the border between Canada and the United States. Each country claimed the town as its territory. Finally the matter was brought to court, and the judge decided in favor of the United States. At the end of the trial as people left the courtroom an old man was overheard commenting, Oh, thank goodness, I just dont think I could have survived another one of those cold Canadian winters!
Negotiating a crossroads means complete and total focus. This is not the time to be looking back and wondering about what might have been. Now is the time to look squarely ahead on what is to come.
Our tendency is to keep on the move. Stopping can keep us from going in the wrong direction, expending and wasting an unusual amount of energy heading off in an unproductive direction.
As we approach a crossroads, we need to take the time to properly evaluate the options instead of impulsively hurrying through.
We need to know where we are headed or any road will take us there.
Dont follow the advice of famed baseball philosopher Yogi Berra who said, When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
By stopping and looking, our hearing can improve. We need to listen. What do we hear at this intersection about our lives? We need to evaluate the pros and cons of each option, determine which direction matches our gifts, and decide what needs would be met, and then make the decision.
We are at risk of being bombarded from many directions if we stand indecisive at a crossroads on the road or in our lives.
Like it or not, decisions have to be made. Even refusing to decide is a decision. Its a decision by default but a decision nevertheless that affects lives.
Indecisiveness often leads to disappointment, despair and lethargy, as people begin to feel they have given up control of their lives. Rather than being in control, they are being controlled by the events that surround them.
Some decisions are easy; some are filled with struggle. Sometimes we agonize for days over one decision. Yet, during those same days we make numerous decisions routinely, unconscious of what or why we are deciding. Whether major or minor, these decisions are lifes intersections. Do not approach them reluctantly or with hesitation. To do so is to be doomed.
A reluctance to commit at crucial moments may result in putting things off too long and risk never doing them. Some opportunities come and if we fail to take advantage of them, they may never come again. Each postponement carries the risk that these opportunities will not happen again. Follow the blacksmiths advice, Strike while the iron is hot. That is the only way you can choose your direction and shape your life.
Keep moving forward.
Indecisiveness may continue after a decision is made. Too much time and energy can be wasted speculating on whether the decision was the right one. All of us have wondered about the road not taken. We have speculated about how life would have turned out differently, and usually better for us, if we had taken the other road. However, such speculation is based on the faulty premise that all that was needed to make things different and better was for one thing to be different. As we look down the road not taken we fail to see the other intersections that we would have negotiated differently as a result of an earlier shift in perspective and change in direction.
After we negotiate an intersection, we breathe a sigh of relief. But always realize another one awaits us. Some are closer together than others. We make it through some intersections almost without thinking. Others are extremely difficult. Whatever the degree of difficulty, follow the rules of the road.
Carla Perotta has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare staffing industry and is now responsible for all business operations related to Kelly Healthcare Resources, a business unit of staffing provider Kelly Services Inc., based in Troy, Michigan. Kelly Healthcare Resources provides healthcare staffing solutions to hospitals, clinics, businesses, healthcare facilities, insurance companies, HMOs and clinical research organizations. For more information, visit www.kellyhealthcare.com.