In college, I was not a very good student. I attended engineering school at the University of Virginia, distinguishing myself by making the Dean’s List. Not the one I wanted to be on, however. No, I made the Dean’s List of Students on Academic Probation. Not just once but twice! It took me five years to graduate. I finally earned my Engineering Degree – on the promise that I’d pursue a career in Business, lest I do lasting harm to human life and physical infrastructure!
One thing I did learn though was that when plotting a graph, there’s always a horizontal X-axis and a vertical Y-axis.
In life, your X-axis is Time. It’s constantly marching forward. You cannot control it. Time is ‘independent’ of you. It defines the one steady dimension of your operating frame of reference.
‘Negative’ Time is everything in your past, to the left on your timeline.
‘Positive’ Time is everything in your future, to the right on your timeline.
For the purposes of navigating and living an Extraordinary Life that leads to Your Yonder Star – Desired Legacy, your Y-axis is your State of Being relative to your Value System.
‘Negative’ States of Being are Attitudes, Behaviors, Choices, and Decisions (ABCDs) that lead you farther away from Your Desired Legacy.
‘Positive’ States of Being are ABCDs that lead you closer to Your Desired Legacy.
I’ve added that operating frame of reference to our, now familiar, diagram, below:
With a defined operating frame of reference, effective navigation is now possible. We’ll pick up from here in my next post. In the meanwhile, here’s a productive exercise you can do as you go through the week ahead:
Start a list (journal, simple note on your phone, etc) and keep track of your Attitudes, Behaviors, Choices, and Decisions (ABCDs) throughout each day. You don’t have to record all of them. But be intentional and record as many as you can.
Then, categorize them as being either positive (ABCDs that are consistent with your personal value system), or negative (ABCDs that are inconsistent with your personal value system).
Pay particular note to ABCDs that tend to recur frequently for you throughout the week. Highlight those in your list.
Oh, one more thing, I’m often asked, ‘what’s the difference between choices and decisions … they seem like the same thing?’ Can you relate to that question?
Perhaps this will be helpful: Notice the suffix in the word De-cide? (‘cide’)
You’ve seen that suffix in a variety of words before haven’t you?
Pesticide, Homicide, Suicide, etc.
In each of those words, something is dying. A bug, someone else, or yourself. ‘Cide’ means ‘to kill!
What are you killing when you make a decision?
That’s right … decisions kill the choices you didn’t take. So, think of Choices as the ‘options’ you see before you at a given moment. Decisions as the one option you ultimately make. Hopefully that will make the distinction more clear.
Have a great week!