Recently, I was looking for something to help me stay motivated, so I decided to put up this quote at my work desk. It’s been more effective than I expected!
Of course, the fact that I put up this quote at all means that I occasionally stop when I’m tired, discouraged or bored.
I sometimes lack the willpower to do what I know I ought to. I don’t always make the best possible decision—and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles in this area.
(As an aside, one of my colleagues commented: “Daniel, that quote isn’t completely true. At least once a day, I see you taking a break to have a snack. Obviously, you also stop when you’re hungry!)
What you desire now vs. what you desire most
It’s human nature to focus on the short-term rather than the long-term, to be attracted to pleasure and to avoid pain. When we make choices based on how we feel, we tend to give in to what we desire now, at the expense of what we desire most.
But we all know that in order to lead fruitful and meaningful lives, we need to consistently make decisions that involve delayed gratification.
This applies in every area of our lives: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.
How, then, do we consistently make excellent decisions?
The magical question to help you make better choices
I’ve found that just by asking this one question, most decisions become incredibly straightforward:
Will I choose character or compromise?
What this question implies is that every choice you make isn’t one between surfing the Internet and working on that important report; it isn’t one between ice cream and broccoli; it isn’t one between lashing out at someone and controlling your temper.
Instead, every choice you make is really one between character and compromising on your character.
Whenever you make a decision, you’re either becoming a person of greater character, integrity, determination, love, courage, humility, generosity, kindness—or you’re becoming a person who possesses less of these traits.
There’s very little middle ground.
Making a decision isn’t merely about deciding what to do. It’s about deciding who you are, and who you want to become.
After all, your destiny isn’t built in a day. It’s built day by day. We need to continually remind ourselves that a great life consists of many great days and many great decisions. There’s really no chance of us building a lasting legacy without focused, intentional effort.
In closing, asking “Will I choose character or compromise?” won’t necessarily make it easier for you to do the right thing, but it will certainly make it clearer what you ought to do.
I’ll confess that choosing character in every situation is a daily battle for me, but I know that it’s one worth fighting.
As leadership expert John Maxwell said, “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.”
Let’s choose wisely.