Powerful Choices We Forget We Have

by Pam Fox Rollin, Executive Coach

Connect with Pam: @PamFR

Welcome to the IdeaShape Newsletter archives! We think these ideas on leadership and life have stood the test of time…let us know if you agree.

This post originally appeared in May 2002.

Powerful Choices We Forget We Have

In this Post:

The Big Idea, Action Challenge, Resources, Note from Pam

The Big Idea: We have more choice than we tend to remember in the moment

“Choices in a mediator’s life are very simple: he does those things which contribute to his awareness: he refrains from things which do not.”

– Sujata

As I consider my choices and assist clients in making their own, I’ve noticed a set of powerful choices we tend to overlook. Which of these choices would you be wise to consider?

Action Challenge: What powerful choices do you tend to overlook?

1. The choice to let go and move on
2. The choice to confront our beliefs with data
3. The choice to see the game and offer to change the rules
4. The choice to go for something bigger
5. The choice to support others in doing things their own way
6. The choice to admit ignorance or fatigue and ask for help
7. The choice to call a time out and regain perspective
8. The choice to get real about our fears and hopes
9. The choice to speak a difficult truth
10. The choice to accept fully what is

Let this list be a starting place for you…

  • What types of options do you routinely overlook
  • Which choices could make a big difference to your success and happiness
  • How will you remember to step back in the moment and consider those choices

Note that you may neglect to consciously consider certain types of choices because you have conflicting — and perhaps outdated — beliefs.

For example, do you have a belief that top players never call a time out? Explore when that belief serves you and when it does not. What beliefs are you willing to challenge to expand your range of choices?



Play to Win: Choosing Growth over Fear in Work and Life, by Larry and Hersch Wilson, 1998Check this out for an excellent map of choices that matter plus simple, yet useful processes for exercising choice.

Inner Game of Work, by Timothy Gallwey, 2000Like the Wilsons, Gallwey encourages the discipline of stopping in the moment to consider your choices. Gallwey focuses on the powerful choice of where to focus our attention.

Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Riso and Hudson, 1999The Enneagram is the most useful framework I’ve seen for sharpening our insight into the places we tend to get stuck. This book does better than most in suggesting some healthier roadmaps for getting unstuck.

Are You Deciding On Purpose, an interview with Richard Leider, Fast Company, February 1998
Leider has asked more than 1,000 senior citizens what they would do differently. Near the top of the list: be more courageous, take more chances.


Note from Pam

Recently I spoke with a VP who wanted to make a difficult organizational change appealing to his staff. He was tying himself in knots trying to come up with a spin that could sell the change.

Until we stepped back and looked thoughtfully at his options, he hadn’t considered saying, in essence, “This is gonna be tough. It makes much of what we do harder. After we all take a little time to absorb the news, let’s get back together and see what we can come up with to make the best of this.”

Just recognizing this option gave my client the mental breathing room to catalog a few benefits that could come out of simply delivering an honest message that his team could work with. This guy is smart, capable, and effective in leading his team. And still he forgot that he didn’t have to solve every problem; he could lead his team in facing a difficult reality and moving through it.

Are you and I any different? I think all of us get locked into ways of seeing the world and start to act as if that’s the only way. For me, it’s a red flag when I notice myself pushing quite hard for one way of doing something. Chances are there are choices I’m neglecting. What’s the red flag telling you to step back and consider your choices?

If you’d like to get in touch about any of this, please email me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.




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About Pam Fox Rollin

Pam Fox Rollin coaches executives and high potentials especially in technology, health care, biotech, and professional services. Pam specializes in working with leaders stepping up from being rock stars in their functional areas to more strategic senior roles. She also guides the top teams of public, private, and fast-growth global companies to lead together more effectively.

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