I was sitting thinking the other day, “how times have changed from when I was a young man”! I wasn’t sure if this was because of the election, not the result, simply how the campaigns were run, or and how certain voting demographics have changed with time, or how it was broadcast or even how each party never actually appeared to truly get their policies over with any substance whatsoever, so how could you decide if they were doing to do the “right thing”, to vote for them? Now as my mind started to wonder back I started to look heavily at myself and whether or not I had done the “right thing” in my life!
Eastern philosophy says that doing the right thing involves two separate steps – having the right view or thought, and having the right intention. So much of this especially the latter purely comes down to how motivated you are! As I pondered this I started to see my own thought processes and how over time they have changed, from the drive of a young man to the thought and idea’s of an old man and the actions I now take, and how those thoughts have changed and with it my habits that drive the outcomes. So now at the age of 50 my motivation is different but then so are my intentions and how I go about achieving my goals. The old adage springs to mind “If I knew then, what I know now” was ringing round my mind.
But what’s changed?
So let’s talk about intention for a moment. When I was young, it didn’t take much to motivate me and get me moving, to focus on my goals and to be strong enough and confident enough mentally to achieve my goals and to feel good. My motivation came from everywhere, from those I worked with, those I played sport with but most of all and absolutely, from those I competed against irrespective if that was in work or out of work! It all boiled down to one thing “win or lose”. Both my working life and personal life thrust ideals about how you are perceived by others by the results you achieved but there was never a thought about doing the “right thing”, it was truly win at all costs. I worked hard and trained harder to beat my competition, it didn’t matter what I was doing the result was everything, and I think that in most cases my peers and management preached winning at all cost made you a better person, but did it?
As I matured (better late than never I can hear my father say) things changed. Win at all cost was no longer a genuine option, to win I had to do the “right thing” in order to feel good, and that process all started by having the right thoughts but more importantly the right intentions. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wake up one morning finding that I had changed overnight, life changed around me which made me mature. I got married, I had kids and I was given management responsibility at work, so in real terms people’s lives were in my hands, so my wins were their wins and their wins were my wins and that scared me. You watch your children play and you start asking questions about their compassion, spirit and how they interact with others. You want them to do the “right thing” for the right reasons and you teach them right from wrong! You want them to include everyone in their social circle and as they grow you try and develop their self-awareness and try show them the implications every action and decision they take has on others, especially those close to them. Win or lose you want them to be happy and learn from their mistakes, in order to be a better person, a role model. So all of a sudden I was not only nurturing my kids but those around me to the “right thing” and my view of winning started to change, in reality it had changed a lot.
As we age, our bodies change, but the main thing I have noticed is the shift of my mindsets. Unless you do the right things, middle age spread just happens, so how we motivate ourselves changes, I have found what worked when I was 20 no longer worked as a driver for me. I found beating the competition was no longer truly rewarding (some people will always still motivate me), my mindset is now truly all about doing the “right thing”, and I have found that if I do the “right thing” irrespective of winning or losing then I feel good about the actions and decisions I have taken. This is a massive shift from my early 20’s, one that my younger self could never fathom but in hindsight one I truly wished I’d had. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my past, it has led to where I am today, but I genuinely think doing the “right thing” would have produced better results because I have noted the older I have become the more accomplished I have become, which is all down to my mindset and how doing the “right thing” has become more prevalent as I have aged.
So now without an enemy to conquer, the question which motivates me constantly in both my working life and personal life is “am I doing the right thing”? And if I am, will it be a positive or a negative outcome? Basically will it improve my quality of life and all those around me or involved in the process that is under consideration. These decisions are now so much harder than when I was young, because these decisions are basically about one thing, beating myself! Sometimes opportunities appear, but it means doing the wrong thing, irrespective if it could potentially generate lots of money or give me the instant gratification I craved in my twenties! Experience has taught me these things are always fraught with danger because the potential downsides could be equally as devastating as the upsides. In my youngers days, little thought would have gone into my decision making process and I did walk away from lots of opportunities though, but there were decisions which I made for pure selfish reasons that benefitted me and no one else, those are decisions that I certainly wouldn’t entertain now. I will say it is extremely hard beating the competition, winning at all cost can be a beautiful thing but it can also be an extremely ugly experience, however beating yourself by doing the “right thing” is even harder but the rewards on all fronts are so much greater.
So motivating myself these days is definitely harder, do I workout to stop that middle age spread, do I walk away from a business opportunities because it is not the “right thing”? These decisions are all things that cross my mind daily! Weaker people, will give in, why workout, why not just have that extra drink, why not say yes to that business opportunity even if it is wrong, because sometimes saying yes to those things is infinitely easier than saying no. However at the end of the day, deep down inside to me there is a little thing called self-respect, and the strength of our mindset and decisions we make can only be made by you. Yes outside influences, such as people, can and will contribute to the decision and yes all that glitters isn’t always gold and fools gold can be very enticing but I am firm believer that if you do make the right decisions and do the “right thing” then bigger and better things will follow.
So if you have read this far, thank you, now listen to that inner voice and hear what it is saying to you, are you a person who no matter what will make the “right decision” at the time, or are you a person who simply doesn’t care, because only you can live with the decisions you make and the effect it has on others, so with that in mind, doing the “right thing” in its self is a huge decision, and as you contemplate your next decision is doing the “right thing” your top priority?