What is it that you truly fear?
What is it that makes the small hair on the back of your neck stand at attention, gives you goose bumps, causes you to shiver at the very thought of it?
What is it that paralyzes you to inaction? What is it that drops you to your knees and makes you want to disappear?
We, each of us, make decisions each day. Sometimes the decision is great, but most of the time, the decisions are small. Most of these decisions are not life changing or life altering in any way. They are simple decisions such as the choice to eat this or that. Perhaps it might be the choice to drive this way or that way to work. As I said, these are not very big decisions and most of the time, we make them without much thought, never thinking or worrying about the consequences.
As a principal in charge of a high school community of approximately 1900 students and staff, I’m charged with making decisions, both big and small, and these decisions affect folks. In the face of a great or big decision, the thought of making a wrong or poor decision is worrisome, but it doesn’t necessarily cause me fear. I strive . . . aim . . . to do the right thing. I gather input from many. I listen to their ideas and suggestions. Ultimately, I make a decision by looking at the big picture and taking into the consideration the best interests of everyone. And in the end, not everyone agrees with me necessarily, but it is a decision I make and I own it, along with the consequences of that decision.
Legend has it that during the Tet Offensive in 1968 during the Vietnam War, General William Westmoreland had his senior officers write their own obituaries. If this legend is correct, I’m not sure what the reason Westmoreland had for doing this, but as I reflect on this, I believe that one could surmise that once these officers clued in on the fact that their lives might end . . . indeed at some point will end . . . the fear of the consequences of their decisions somehow became less.
As a dad, the thought of one of my kids getting hurt, or worse, is perhaps my greatest fear, along with the fear of something happening to my wife, Kim. Unfortunately, that fear came to an ugly realization when my son was murdered this past July. His death still hurts, still haunts. It affects me each day, sometimes at various moments of the day, and I know it affects my wife and two daughters, just as I know it affects others whose lives he touched in one way or another.
On that sunny afternoon, the decision was made by another human being that had drastic and dire consequences that had never, ever entered my mind. But yet, the decision made by another individual cost my son his life, and it cost my family greatly. I had no control over that decision. My son didn’t have control over the decision that ended his own life at that moment. For me . . . for my family and for others . . . on that sunny afternoon in July, my worst fear was realized.
Fear is real. It is an ugly emotion. It can paralyze. It can stunt growth. Fear robs you of joy and happiness. Fear takes you away from living in the moment and causes you to live in the shadow of “if” and “perhaps.” That is an ugly place to live, if one can even call it living.
But if we come to realize that a job will eventually end, the decisions one makes in that job become less fearful. Instead of fearing the outcome of the decision, we can accept the consequences of the decision if we know deep down in the valleys and recesses of our heart and soul that we did the best we could, made the very best decision we could at that time.
And like the officers under General Westmoreland, if we realize that our life will someday end, we then have permission . . . the duty . . . to live our life in the very best way possible, doing for others instead of doing just for ourselves. We can extend a hand and lift others up. We can encourage and help, rather than discourage and erect barriers.
We can do this because our jobs, like our lives, will one day end. And when we realize this, we are then given a choice to live in fear or to proceed as best we can, with whatever resources we have at hand to make our life, and the lives of others, better. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
The second book of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, will become available on Amazon. It carries the story forward that began with the prequel, Taking Lives, and forward from the first book of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives. You can find the first two books on Amazon at:
Taking Lives: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Lives-Joseph-Lewis-ebook/dp/B00MG2JAWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407974964&sr=8-1&keywords=Taking+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis
Stolen Lives: http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00PKKN6W4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415927661&sr=1-1&keywords=stolen+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis