I never know what is going to inspire me to write. Part of me wishes it was always something that seems important, like a beautiful piece of music or a wonderfully written book. Maybe it could be something in nature. Or seeing someone overcome insurmountable odds or people engaging in some heartfelt emotions.
This time it was a TV show. And not even a very good show. Sigh. That’s part of life, right? Seeing opportunity and support and inspiration wherever they present themselves. Despite our judgments or expectations. So I’ll accept that something I was doing to be mindless actually led me to something not so mindless.
In the show a new cop was being trained to help resolve crisis situations with words. You know, getting someone holding a hostage to let the hostage go instead of someone getting shot. As they ran through scenarios he failed every time. The hostage died. The criminal died. He never resolved a situation with no one dying. What frustrated him the most is that he felt he was doing everything right.
As usual, the show proceeded, things happened, lessons were learned. Near the end the rookie came to the boss and said, “Boss, I get it now. It isn’t about making the perfect choice. It is about being okay with the choices we do make.”
Wow. Out of a so-so show, pretty powerful words. So many of us struggle to be perfect. To make perfect choices. It can paralyze us so we don’t make any choices at all because we can’t find the perfect one. Or we spend our time beating ourselves up because our choice wasn’t perfect.
And that’s a trap. Because as my fictional TV character discovered, there aren’t perfect choices. There are just choices. We consider what we know, predict what we can and then make one. Even not making a choice is a choice. We try to make the best one we can but even that sometimes doesn’t happen.
And then things happen. Sometimes our choices turn out well. Sometimes they don’t. Even when we believe we made the best choice possible. What matters is what we do, how we act, when whatever outcome occurs.
If the outcome is good we can credit ourselves for making a good choice. But if the outcome isn’t, what do we do? We can beat ourselves up for having made a bad choice. We can be upset that a bad outcome occurred even though we believe we made a good choice.
But those options aren’t useful. They don’t accomplish anything. They don’t change the outcome. They don’t change the information we had when we made the decision. And mostly, we have no way to prove that another choice wouldn’t have turned out even worse.
It can be helpful to look back and learn. In hindsight can you learn lessons to take with you in the future. Not to beat yourself up. To grow, to improve.
Beyond that we can embrace our choice. Knowing that we made the decision in the moment, knowing what we new then. And accept that sometimes things don’t work out the way we expected.
So we make a new choice based on where we are now. In the end you may not take the route you expected to take. But you will be moving forward.
Embrace your choices.