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The Power of Choice

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MJ DeMarco

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Someone requested a link to this story which is on my MySpace.com blog (El Lamo!) so instead of linking from there, I'd thought I'd copy it and post it here. I wrote this about 3 years ago.

The Power of Choice – Success is a Choice

The Power of Choice is the most fundamental power we have as individuals to achieve our goals. The power of choice encompasses our entire life – regrettably, most of us never realize it before its too late. This great power holds the key to unlocking not just financial independence, but your happiness as a human being.

Choice is an amazing thing. Embrace it and use it to your advantage.

When we reflect back into our lives, we have the capability of analyzing the forks in the road – and where those forks have taken us. The forks are simple choices, both large and small – but each share the common thread of having the magnificent power to take us somewhere different.

You see, your life as it exists now, is the cumulative result of your choices – millions of choices which you've made. If you're dissatisfied in your life, your choices take 100% full responsibility.

Blame them.

Yes, life is about choice. The choice to be positive. The choice to be negative. The choice to watch TV or read a book. The choice to eat donuts or eat fruit. The choice to sleep until noon, or rise at dawn. Choice surrounds us and our great country affords us that luxury.

Every day, you make hundreds of choices. You've chosen to read this. Not only does choice exist in our external actions, they exist in our internal mind.

The Power of Choice comes in two forms.

The Choice of Perception and the Choice of Action.

First, the Choice of Perception:

You choose to interpret events in your particular frame of reference. Your mind labels and categorizes events that surround you. When someone says "dog" some people see a poodle. Others see a Pit Bull. This is the Choice of Perception.

If you lose your job you can choose it to be a negative, or positive. When you're pulled over for speeding, you can be angry or thankful. The Choice of Perception and its choices start right between your ears.

The other day while pumping gas in my car (the Lamborghini) I had a teenager ask me if he could snap some pictures of the car. "Sure, go right ahead!" I replied. After a few minutes of pictures and various rants and raves about the car, he exclaimed, "I gotta get as many pictures as possible cuz Ill never be able to afford one of those".

Choice. He made a choice to believe he will never own one. Small choice? Or big choice? His Choice of Perception was poor. This poor choice of perception will forever lead him to average results. Unfortunately, he doesn't even know it.

Going back to my teen years, the difference between he and I was this: When I was 14, I saw my first Lamborghini sitting outside an ice cream store. As a gazed in wonderment, I thought to myself, "Some day I'm gonna own one of those". My Choice of Perception was strong.

If you maintain strong choices of perception, your focus ultimately becomes your reality.

I moved to Phoenix in 1997 poor and broke. I mailed out dozens of resumes hoping to get a "safe secure job" – weeks passed and I received no phone calls. Instead of framing this event as a failure, I chose to be positive. I took further action and increased the work efforts of my small business. If I didn't, I would have been homeless on the street as rent was fast coming due. I made choices; both in perception AND action.

The Choice of Action is the second choice power we have.

Not only are the choices you make in your internal mindset important, but the choices you make in your external activities.

To move ahead in life, you must understand that the smallest of choices impact your life. Most of us believe only the big choices impact our life; Should I take that new job? Should I marry Jennifer? Should I start a business? Should I buy that car? Do I get that MBA? This is false.

The smallest of choices, in your daily life, are the ones that can make the biggest impact.

Back in 1997 I made a choice to visit a chat room to "see what was going on" – at the moment, it was a very simple choice. It was nothing big as I was just wasting time on the Internet. However, in that chat room, I would meet my best friend whom forever would impact my life and my business. Had I not met my best friend, my life as it is today, would be 100% different. Where would I be had I not made that choice to enter that chat room?

What seemingly simple choices have you made that made the biggest impact on your life?

Watch out with the Choice of Action!

Its power can take you places and throw your life into bliss or chaos. Be mindful with the Choice of Action.

In 2004 I bought a new Viper. One month into ownership I decided to street race someone while having to much to drink. Unfortunately, not being that familiar with the car and having liquor in my system, I was unable to control the car – the car started to spin and crossed over into traffic careening into palm tree.

I made a choice and the choice was disastrous.

This poor choice would forever impact my life. That night I was lucky – I did not kill myself or anyone else. Had I killed someone, my life would have been 100% different – no amount of money in the bank can keep you from prison. No amount of money can purge your soul of the horror of being responsible for taking someone's life so foolishly.

That night I was carted away and charged with DUI. The Viper was totaled and I later found that I would have been killed had impact been driver side vs. passenger side. My life was spared as where others.

The Choice of Action can throw your life into chaos or bliss: I decided to illegally drag race. Conversely the Choice of Perception was this: Instead of being regretful that I got caught, I was overwhelmingly thankful – thankful I did not kill anyone or destroy other people's lives. I now choose not to race anyone on the street – I now choose not to drink and drive and have adopted a zero tolerance policy. Choices. Choices of Action and Choice of Perception.

Choices.

We make good ones and we make bad ones.

All of them – impact our life and throw us into different directions. To be happy and live a life of success, make more good choices vs. bad choices.

Your choices become who you are. Your life is a reflection your choices, in action and perception.

At this very moment – whether its an trailer, apartment, house, or a mansion on a hill – YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE because you made those choices.

How do you choose to frame your surrounding events? What language do you use in your mind?

"Ill never …"
"I can't. …"
"If I could only … "


Or do you choose better words?

"Someday"
"This is a challenge Ill overcome"
"I will"


The Power of Choice starts early in life -- its impacts are life lasting.

The choice to cheat on your English writing exams, or study.
The choice to have unprotected sex.
The choice to skip class, or attend class.
The choice to lie or to be honest.
The choice to watch TV, or read an educating book.
The choice to drive 105 mph in a 55 mph zone.
The choice to associate with negative people.
The choice to overindulge in food or liquor.
The choice to drive home after drinking too much.
The choice to cheat on your significant other.
The choice to steal a pack of gum from the supermarket.
The choice to go out with your friends when you really wanted to stay home.

Some Choices Have Unintended Consequences

DAVID
At age 16, David thought it would be cool to ignite a smoke bomb in the school bus. This day he makes a choice. At the time it would seem like a harmless prank. 14 children suffered smoke inhalation that day. Fortunately, those 14 children recovered quickly. However, it was David's 10-day stay in juvenile detention that would forever lead David's life down a different path.

David met Rudy in juvenile hall. Rudy would later teach David the "rules" of the perfect burglary. For years, the rules which Rudy taught David allowed him to make thievery a career. David's luck would soon run out and would later spend 9 years in prison. Today, he is homeless and still engages in petty crimes.

Had David not met Rudy, where would he be? A fireman? Banker? Businessman? Choice, and the path of its consequences, start early.

ALYSSA
At age 18, Alyssa leaves home to live with a 29 year old man she met at the local bar 4 months earlier. She has unprotected sex on multiple occasions and later becomes pregnant. Unfortunately, the pregnancy is unwanted and Alyssa is brutally beaten by her boyfriend when she tells him the news. Alyssa later aborts the pregnancy in a motel bathroom and leaves her boyfriend only to return home to her parents.

Had Alyssa not moved in with a man she did not know, she'd be able to conceive today. Alyssa will grow old childless. Choice, and the path of its consequences, start early.

ANDRE
A multimillionaire by age 28, Andre had everything: A beautiful wife, money, a healthy daughter, riches, and a thriving restaurant business. Andre is on top of the world. One Friday night after having a few drinks to celebrate his night manager's birthday, Andre gets in his car and drives home drunk. He mentally chooses to think "I'm OK". On his way home he kills a family of 4 while traveling down the interstate. Andre is arrested for drunk driving and carted off to jail where after a trial, he will later spend the next 15 years of his life. His life will never be the same because of not ONE CHOICE, but multiple choices. The choice to drink. The choice to drive. The choice to think "I'm OK" – the series of choices is plentiful – his exit strategy was clear – he didn't choose wisely.

JACK (UPDATED FOR 2008!)
Jack finances his dream home and takes out a $800K mortgage even though he only makes $50K/yr. Due to loose credit and an exploding housing market, he decides to take the loan. 18 months later, his interest rate adjusts and he can no longer afford the house and is forced to endure a foreclosure. His poor credit haunts him for 12 years -- he can't qualify for a new mortgage due to poor credit and many business opportunities pass him by. His one choice reaches far into his future.


Poor choices lead to poor results.

As you move forward in life, ask yourself, am I making good choices? Good choices of action? Good choices in perception?

Do you choose to be a victim? Do you blame others or take responsibility?

Someone once said, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you continue to make the same choices, you can expect the same results.

If you are unhappy in your life, make better choices. There's no time like today.

Peace Out.
MJ
 

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MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

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Wow great stuff! MJ, you should guest blog on my site.
-Andrew
Sure once I get my blog up and running I'd be happy too. I'm actually almost done with it.
 
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MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

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I think you should seriously consider writing a book!

:p
Thx ... I added some items to update the article in 2008 (Jack and his subprime loan). Bottomline, our choices happen in a second, yet, their consequences can transcend a lifetime.
 

yveskleinsky

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The smallest of choices, in your daily life, are the ones that can make the biggest impact.
I have been focusing a lot on this concept for the past week or so. ...I am a huge Tony Robbins fan, and I was listening to one of his CDs the other day for the 1000th time, and this concept jumped out at me and has stuck since. I decided that if small changes could change the path I am on (even by just a degree or two) then the outcome would be huge in a month, a year, five years. So for the past week, I have been focusing on developing small, sustainable habits- the best small habit I have cutivated thus far has been telling myself what I great day today is going to be and then take the time to find 10 things that I am thankful for. Doing this sets my head straight before I even get out the door. And I've found that good habits spawn more good habits- and once they start multiplying there is that positive momentum which attracts others who are positively propelled.
 

GoldenEggs

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If you maintain strong choices of perception, your focus ultimately becomes your reality.
This jumped out at me the most. When I reflect back on my life, I have gotten everything I asked for. I use my husband as an example, because he is everything I said I wanted, adventurous, kind, loving, family oriented, etc. But he is also 24 yrs my senior. I never focused on age, just the qualities that I wanted in my future husband.
So I got exactly what I requested and what I didn't request.

When I was looking for a new job, I said I wanted it to be within decent driving distance. I found a job that was within driving distance, 28 miles. Well, I do not enjoy driving and ended up with a 50 min commute, which for me is torture! So I was unhappy in the mornings and things at work started to go downhill, except for the days where I made a conscious effort to focus on positive aspects of the day's event or changes I was making in life.

So I definately agree with MJ, your focus ultimately becomes your reality. It's good to be reminded of that every now and then.
 
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Jorge

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For me, this is one of the most important posts in this site.
Rep++
 

dhuang

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Great post! Definitely looking forward to your blog!

I can relate to the teenager taking pictures of your Lambo...
One of my friends drives an Acura RSX Type-S given to him by his parents. The RSX is new, and a very sharp car for a college student. We were talking cars one day, and I told him I'm interested in European and Exotic cars. He immediately told me why he didn't like exotics:

"They're too expensive, and I won't be able to afford one."

Choice of Perception

I'm lucky to not shoot myself in the foot like many others!
 

LaughedAt

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What an amazing post, I think that this one also needs to be a sticky, along with the "Do You Have A Successful Entrepreneurial Premise?" thread, they cover some extremely important directions required to start a successful business.
Really MJ, thank you for all your amazing efforts and those priceless threads you make, I just wish that someday when I reach the level of success I want I'd still be helping people and affecting their lives positively !! :notworthy:
:thankyousign:
Best
 

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MJ DeMarco

MJ DeMarco

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Great post! Definitely looking forward to your blog!

I can relate to the teenager taking pictures of your Lambo...
One of my friends drives an Acura RSX Type-S given to him by his parents. The RSX is new, and a very sharp car for a college student. We were talking cars one day, and I told him I'm interested in European and Exotic cars. He immediately told me why he didn't like exotics:

"They're too expensive, and I won't be able to afford one."

Choice of Perception

I'm lucky to not shoot myself in the foot like many others!
Great observation ... its pretty easy to observe other's Choice of Perception and doing so can improve our own.

What an amazing post, I think that this one also needs to be a sticky, along with the "Do You Have A Successful Entrepreneurial Premise?" thread, they cover some extremely important directions required to start a successful business.
Really MJ, thank you for all your amazing efforts and those priceless threads you make, I just wish that someday when I reach the level of success I want I'd still be helping people and affecting their lives positively !! :notworthy:
:thankyousign:
Best
Thanks!!!! :fastlane:
 

CoMp1eX

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Wow, thanks a lot MJ! I have learned soo much from this forum and your postings. I appreciate it all!
 

Salinger

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I love this kind of stuff, but it can really freak you out if you think about it too much. Sometimes its not about what happens to you, but about how you respond to what happens to you. We all have that ability - that "response-ability." It's sometimes hard to be responsible and make good choices under certain conditions.

Alcohol, among other things (greed, lust, envy, jealousy) sure does a good job helping people suppress their ability to make wise choices. Somewhere in the back or our minds we know, "I really shouldn't do X," but under the influence we think "why not, this will be fun." Sometimes we get away with those poor choices, sometimes we don't. When we don't, we encounter an extreme learning experience.

I noticed most of your examples were of poor choices and negative outcomes. Of course there are stories of positive choices. Deciding to stay a few more minutes at a networking function might put you in touch with just the right contact to make your next venture a success.

A great movie related to this (though it has a strong element of fate to it) is "Sliding Doors." I think Gwenyth Paltrow was in it. It runs parallel opening scenes. In one, she just catches the subway home to her apartment and gets there early. In the second, she misses the train, has to wait for the next one, and arrives a few minutes later to her apartment. That simple "choice" affected the rest of her future immensely. The movie continues to follow her parallel lives in stark contrast to each other because of that single, seemingly insignificant event.

What time will you arrive home today? How will the rest of your life be different because of it?
 
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Salinger

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A book that is considered a must-read on chaos and probability is The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I have not yet read it, but it is highly recommended for anyone trading the markets. He says that our brains want to find order in chaos and we fool ourselves by assuming more order in nature than actually exists.

I believe the technical traders looking for Elliot Wave patterns are a prime example of this. They see what they want to see and change their wave counts as if they were gospel as the market marches on unaware of what it is supposed to do. --- Hmm, this may be way off topic. Sorry.
 

PaulRobert

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Thank You MJ for writing this. I have realized that even today I have made many choices that can and probably will change my life. I learn better with examples and probably others too.

At the beginning of the school year, I noticed a kid sitting alone at the lunch table since many of his other friends had transferred the previous year. As I saw him sitting alone I thought to myself that I too was once that kid and I did not want anyone to have that feeling that I felt. I made the choice to invite the kid to our table and eat lunch with us. He still sits at our table and I have become good friends with him. As I think about it, What if I did not invite him to our table? Would he still be sitting alone? and What kind of impact have my friends and I had on his life?

Just a little example to add to MJ's write up.

Thank You,
Lamboman
 

yveskleinsky

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A book that is considered a must-read on chaos and probability is The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I have not yet read it, but it is highly recommended for anyone trading the markets. He says that our brains want to find order in chaos and we fool ourselves by assuming more order in nature than actually exists.

I believe the technical traders looking for Elliot Wave patterns are a prime example of this. They see what they want to see and change their wave counts as if they were gospel as the market marches on unaware of what it is supposed to do. --- Hmm, this may be way off topic. Sorry.
This book sounds like a great read. ...I don't follow markets as I don't currently understand all (any really) of the technical aspects behind it/them, but I do have a fascination with advanced applications of math--in all its forms. (My goal for 2010 is going to be to understand what the hell MJ and Edge are talking about.) I'll check out the book--thanks again!
 

Runum

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bump for a legendary post
 

Barry

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Legendary Bump!
 

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Rawr

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Power of choice is obvious in the past. But the responsibility for driving your choices to where your wanted future is, now - that is the real power.
 

Omerta

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One of the best posts I've ever seen. Just had a breakthrough. The stuff you write is so good Mj. I will keep reading this post for as long as I need. Poor choices lead to poor results. This post is very true and enlightening. Thanks Mj!
 

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