Many years ago someone asked me in a job interview what I want to have happen upon my death.
I told the interviewer that I wanted the devil to call G-d and say “you better take him, because we can’t handle him.”
What I learned that day was the guy behind the desk was a man of significant faith and he thought it was inappropriate for me to speak about the devil in such cavalier terms.
Since I realized it was unlikely I would be offered a position and was certain I didn’t want to work for him I added my standard question/answer about why the devil went down to Georgia and not LA.
That didn’t go over very well either but I was ok because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I didn’t want to work there.
Life is always easier when the choices we have to make are easy but ease isn’t always available because life is filled with big decisions that are made harder because you can’t determine which decision is the best to make.
The Art of Making Hard Choices
Many years ago my family and I went on a day trip with my in-laws.
Since we had a Honda Odyssey that would seat everyone we figured it made sense to all travel in one car. It was a nice idea that lasted for all of 20 minutes.
Because my in-laws managed to find a way to make me so angry with them I drove them back to their house and told them to get out of the car.
As you might imagine my wife and children were not happy and the ride down South was ugly. I was the only one who wasn’t crying and if I told you I didn’t second guess my decision I would be lying because I did.
But it didn’t happen in a complete vacuum.
Five minutes before I decided they had to go I pretended to have a bathroom emergency and pulled over at a gas station so that I could try to calm down.
I remember the moment vividly because I called my dad and said I had a question for him.
He asked me what I needed and then I shared my side and said, “I need your best advice.”
Dad laughed and told me that he couldn’t tell me what to do.
“This is your decision and I have confidence you’ll figure it out.”
“Dad, there is an art to making hard choices. I was really hoping you had figured it out and could help me.”
“Jack, try not to splash paint in your mother-in-law’s eye while you are painting and remember sometimes the best precedent you set is the one you don’t take. But don’t forget to establish clear boundaries either.”
He was laughing as he hung up the phone but I understood why and I made the best decision I could which is why they got kicked out of the car.
A Father’s Advice & A Man’s Choice
Why did I think about that story today?
Because I am in the midst of this transition I keep talking about and it is filled with some decisions that are more challenging in nature than whether to wear black or blue slacks.
And because last night my son asked me for some advice about a few things and I realized I couldn’t give him the kind of black and white answer he was looking for because sometimes it doesn’t exist.
But it didn’t stop me from thinking about what sort of advice and counsel I should give him. That Emerson quote above came because it fit my search for answers about hard choices.
“It is a reminder that the big things we try to do/achieve start with small steps and or gestures.
How Can I Make Better Choices?
The 17 long time readers know I don’t carry many regrets around with me.
That’s because I see little upside beating myself up about what I could have done. Doesn’t mean that the few regrets that I have aren’t substantial because they tend to be huge.
Those are the ones where I sometimes shake my head and wonder why I didn’t make a better choice. But I also know that some of that regret comes with the benefit of hindsight.
I can see what happened and pretend that if I had gone the other way it would have been better for me.
But even though I don’t spend much time wondering and worrying about what I could have done I still like to think about ways to make smarter/better choices.
Remember I am the dad who talks to his kids about working smarter and not harder whenever we can.
And that is how I came across a TED talk Ruth Chang gave about How To Make Hard Choices.
I thought it was interesting which is why I embedded it into the post and am sharing the excerpt below with you.
I like the idea of using hard choices as another tool to identify who we are and who we want to be.
How about you?