Last week I was a fan of strategies, this week I am a fan of decisions.
In fact I am really a fan of the relationship between decisions, and our destiny.
Some decisions change the complete trajectory of our life.
I ask all my new clients, “What are 3 significant events that have determined the course of you life?”, which I always find a fascinating and revealing read.
So I thought this week, I would share with you, two of my most significant and life impacting decisions.
Let’s dive straight in and see if I can be both entertaining and insightful.
BIG DECISION #1: Do I dance or fight?
When I was about 13 years old, I had a major decision to make.
I loved watching tap dancing movies and seeing tap dancing performances on stage, plus I loved to perform.
But, my best mate was also keen to get into martial arts.
Can you guess which choice I made?
Do you think I would I have joined the Army if I had been that avid tap dancer?
I suspect not.
I would have been way too happy tapping away on stage and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry (especially as I have always valued making people happy).
It’s quite revealing look backing on this.
To imagine how much it would have impacted my life trajectory and ultimate destiny.
I also realise dancing and performing, would support a core value of mine, which is to help people experience joy. To change their energy. To perform ‘pattern interrupts’ (by capturing their attention) so they get out of their mental funks.
If I am being honest, which I like to be with you…
I am pretty sure I chose a path (doing martial arts), and then later, joining the army because of external influences.
In the case of martial arts, it was my best mate (and the opinion of my other friends) that most likely lead to that choice. And in the case of joining the military, again I did that because my mate was also applying to join, plus I grew up in a pretty hierarchical family, so the idea of joining a larger hierarchy organisation (the Army) seemed a familiar environment.
However what I found, regarding the Army, was I had to put in a lot more focused effort to ‘do it’ – to keep on the walkway, as opposed to wanting to dance across the grass – whereas I think being a dancer would have been more aligned with my playful and creative spirit (apparently the Army is not big on creative spirits…which meant I was constantly getting in trouble.
Life has a funny way of working things out though – i.e. course-correcting.
I think that the military prepared me for what is the expression of my authentic self today, personally and professionally.
I love to serve. I love to figure things out. I love to lead by example. I love to teach. I love to protect people – from bad decisions and self-imposed limitations.
So I believe that our decisions can take us off course for periods of time, but then life, and our divine spark, tends to bring us back on track, if we allow it to.
BIG DECISION #2: Run away
This other big decision came principally from an avoidance of pain.
Again, life works in mysterious ways.
I was living in Tasmania – yes, home of the Tasmanian Devil – and after a very tumultuous break-up, I decided I needed to get as far away from this person as possible.
Like the other side of the planet. Literally!
I decided to take one year leave without pay from the Army (I had been serving for 9 years at that stage).
I would go to the other side of the planet, where I knew one girl I met briefly a year prior, and would be joined after 6-months by a kiwi buddy.
I would have to find place to stay in London, plus get work, in order to fund my European summer travels.
Frankly, the idea freaked me out!
Plus this is back in the day (1996) before we had social media, Google maps, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, online airline bookings, personal mobile phones, and all the other mod cons which make international traveling a walk in the park these days. ‘High Tech’ then was the latest paperback copy of Lonely Planet (which weighed 0.5kg!!)
I even traveled with ‘paper’ Travelers Checks!
So…a big and scary decision.
And only made possible by the pain of staying and seeing my Ex-girlfriend around town being more painful than my fears of traveling overseas.
The results from my one-year of travel was profound.
I overcame my fears of being alone, of finding work in a foreign country, of traveling in places where you don’t speak the lingo, of making new friends, of not having the security of a consistent salary, of living on bugger all money and getting by.
It also planted the seed to travel more and potentially live abroad.
At a psychological level it also taught me more about who I am.
What beliefs are mine and which belong to others – e.g. the Army, friends, family, and society.
I got to understand what I valued most, when there was just me in solitude.
I started to actually hear, at a deeper level, my inner dialogue, dreams and desires.
And that changed everything.
I (further) decided on returning to Australia and the Army, I would do the following (in 3 years):
- Get knee surgery (I originally injured it playing rugby, but made it worse skiing…actually it was the tumbling, and not skiing, which was the problem.
- Pay off my credit card debts.
- Attain a Bachelors Degree in Management & Professional Studies.
- Set up my post military life, which would preferably be overseas.
Here I am.
Thanks to a major relationship breakup and the age-old primal instinct to RUN AWAY!!
It is FASCINATING to see where our choices lead us in life.
It is also amazing to see how life can course correct – if you are open to listening to your heart – so that something that felt ‘off-course’, can actually be a stepping stone to a more aligned path, if you let life move to you and through you.
And finally, sometimes the painful stuff leads to amazing experiences and growth.
Photo: Me gracefully belly flopping into the pool, at Far Out Camping grounds, on the island of Ios (Greece), August 1996 (and my blond mate ‘Chopper’ soon to follow me).
My Parting words
Thanks for coming on this ride with me down memory lane.
Our decisions shape our destiny.
But I do believe there is a self-correcting element at play (if we make ‘bad’ decisions).
If we are attuned to life.
Though, I am still a fan of trying to make the best decisions from the outcome (= less bruises).
And providing you do it with humour and curiosity, it can be interesting to look back on your path and imagine where another choice might have taken you.
Just skip the regret part.
Stay curious and playful.
So, today think of a choice you made that lead to something wonderful, and then give yourself a big pat on the back.
See you next week.