Joel’s newsletter on Voting And Choosing, November 4, 2009
An ezine about Creative thinking, Coaching, and Making a difference
Yesterday was Election Day - a day when we get to exercise our right to choose in this democratic society. After being flooded with political messages, we finally make our choices and go to the polls. Then, our part being done, we await the results on the news.
I find that elections raise some interesting issues, which I'd like to mention here. I'm not talking about the political issues - they are covered well enough elsewhere - but rather issues around the choosing process itself.
Voting in elections is only one form of exercising our right to choose. We make choices in all aspects of our lives, which affect us and others around us. Let's look at how we approach the election process and see what we can learn from that.
Certainly getting out to vote in the first place is important. Not voting at all means leaving it up to others. How many times do we fail to even make a choice in life, only to have things decided for us by default? Maybe we're not sure of which way to go. That means that either way is good enough. It may also indicate that we're not sure of our goals. And as the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
Many of the political messages we hear are about putting down the opposition. It's easy to criticize the incumbents because you can check their track records. And it may be true that we're unhappy with the current conditions or the performance of those in office. So we're inclined to vote for the other party. This is like focusing on what you don't want. Often people make choices in your life based on what they don't want. The problem with that is that it's not specific enough. It's like saying, I've had enough of being where I am; I want now to be somewhere else. But where? There are many other possibilities. Knowing what you don't want is a great first step. But then you need to decide which of the many possibilities you DO want.
Suppose that you're voting not just to rebel against a candidate you dislike, but you're voting in favor of someone that really appeals to you. Why did you decide on this candidate? There could be many reasons.
There may be other reasons, too. I'm not saying that any of these are good or bad; but it's useful to know how and why you choose. Because what determines your choice in voting may also be a clue about how you make choices in your life in general.
The way a candidate looks and speaks is a strong factor in influencing voters, probably more than most of us realize. That's why image and advertising are so effective. Do you make choices mainly based on appearance? That's OK - many people do.
Going with how you feel may be valuable input in making a decision. Your intuition often tells you what's best for you, if you know how to listen to that. There's a difference between getting excited by what you see and hear and listening to the wise, intuitive voice inside you. It takes practice to distinguish them, but being able to do so can be of great benefit in life.
Do you vote for those who are popular? Or do you dare to vote against the mainstream? In life it's easy to do what most others do. It takes courage to follow your true beliefs, especially if they're different from the majority. But if you don't go with what you really believe, you're likely to settle for mediocrity.
When you study the candidate's character, pay attention to what they say about the important issues, and look at their past performance, you're using your mind to intelligently make a choice. Doing so takes some work and due diligence, but it is time well-spent. However, it still doesn't guarantee that you'll make the best choice. I believe that combining the intellect with the feeling and the intuition gives the most reliable indication of how to choose well.
So voting is a lot like make life choices, and how we go about it can show us something about the way we make decisions in our lives. I'd like to add one more thought about the election process, based on goal setting. If our goals are truly important to us, we not only choose them wisely; we follow through and do whatever it takes to achieve those goals. Likewise, if choosing the best political candidate is important in building the kind of government and society we want, then what we do afterwards is also important. So I believe that being a truly responsible citizen means not only getting out to vote, but supporting the elected candidates once they take office. Instead of blaming them when things go sour, consider what part you can do help, in whatever way you can. Perhaps that means writing letters, supporting organizations, helping the community, or thanking them for the work they've done. I think John F Kennedy said it well: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
To make good choices that are really to your benefit, and to follow up on those choices, find a good coach to work with you. Contact Coach Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-701-1007 and I'll be happy to have a complimentary consultation with you.
Creative thinking tip
Give yourself alternatives. Before picking the first thing that comes to mind, come up with a number of alternative solutions. Whatever the situation or challenge you're facing, there are always alternatives. Don't settle for the first answer. Ask what else is possible. It's always nice to know that you have choices, and the more possibilities that you have to choose from, the more likely it is that you can find one that works really well.
Whatever you're trying to do - for example, deciding where or what to eat, trying to reach a busy person, looking for a topic for a speech, finding a place to hold a wedding, or improving your marriage - brainstorm some alternatives, and then when you have a number of choices, pick the best one.
Quote of the week
"Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible." - Cherie Carter-Scott
What this quote tells me is that trusting one's choices is much like loving oneself. We're always making choices, and when we do so with confidence and trust that we're doing what's best for ourselves, then we feel free and able to achieve whatever we wish. Loving oneself provides the confidence and security that all is well, no matter what happens.
This newsletter is written by Joel Remde, to receive this newsletter via email contact email@example.com. I welcome your comments and feedback; that will help me learn what you’re interested in and also make this a better newsletter.
Learn more about The Creative Thinking Coach at www.coachjoel.com
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Remembering Jim Rohn - A Great Philosopher
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A Look At The Year
Happy New You
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