I recognized at a very young age the enormous impact that seemingly simple decisions could have on the course of a person’s life. Everyone always asks the question “If you could have one wish in life come true, what would it be?” My answer was always the same. I wanted the ability to make the right decisions every time I faced a situation where the right choice was not obvious, but would have a significant impact on the future. In fact, that would be the very first thing I prayed about when saying my prayers as a kid. When I talk about decision-making in this blog, I’m not talking about right or wrong, or good versus evil. I am talking about the decisions in which you may never know if you made the right decision, even long after the choice has been made.
We see the impact that seemingly small decisions can have on people or organizations on a consistent basis. This happens in sports all the time. What if the Patriots had not chosen to take Tom Brady with the 199th overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft? A decision that seemed completely irrelevant at the time ended up creating a modern dynasty and altered the future of the NFL forever. What if that one coach had called a different player earlier in the game? What if that one player had run a different route, or passed the ball to a teammate, or called a different pitch? Hundreds of minor decisions happen throughout sports all the time, and yet the majority of them overlooked because we cannot see the direct result.
It is interesting to reflect back on some of the decisions in my own life, and decisions that others have made that have impacted my life, and wonder how my life would be different if the alternative was chosen. What if I had grown up with a different religion, or no religion at all? What if I had decided not to walk in front of the jungle gym at the playground seconds before an accident shattered my teeth? What if I had chosen to work at a different job than Dunkin Donuts, a place that had a massive impact on me both workwise and socially for four years? What if I had decided not to send that one text to a girl just a few years ago? What if I decided not to go to that one event at school on a casual weeknight, which would ultimately change me forever? What if I had not walked up to the Christian Fellowship table the first week of my freshman year, an organization that also had a massive impact on my life for four years? What if I had put in slightly less effort in high school, costing me a scholarship, changing the college I attended, changing the friends I met, and changing the job I now have?
What if I told you that in all of these scenarios, you had the power to know what the best decision was?
You could go on and hypothesize about what could have been for hours on end, but it is both a frightening and exciting thought to realize that the smallest decisions you make on an everyday basis could change your life forever. I sit here right now knowing that I have to make a decision on where I’m going to live when I start working in a month, and knowing that every possible choice is going to end up in a vastly different result. At the same time, I sit here thinking about a much less extreme decision on whether or not to send an email, but also one that will have significant impact on the course of a friendship.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we often do not have the ability to know what the best decision is. The best we can do is use our resources and the advice of other people to do what we think is best. Even then, the difference between making our own judgment and taking the advice of others could present distinctly different results. It may seem like I’m reading too much into everything and taking life too seriously. However, when looking back on my life, I know for a fact there are several completely different paths it could have taken. Therefore, I would urge people to never look at a situation where a choice has to be made, and say it doesn’t matter what you choose, because you never know how it could change you for the rest of your life.
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