Posts Tagged ‘decision making

01
Aug
13

The Three Decisions by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Three_Decisions1I’ve heard my father give this speech hundreds of times. In fact, it was a major section of his bestselling motivational classic, Life Is TremendousThe Three Decisions: Who are you going to live your life with, what are you going to live your life doing, and who you are going to live your life for. I know my father worked very hard and came from humble beginnings, but I always kind of assumed that he was one of the very few who just got it right the first time. After all, he married my mother at 20 years of age and they stayed married for the next 60 years. He was a world-renowned motivational speaker who had a certain charisma that was unrivaled. His faith in the almighty God after he became a Christian at 23 was as pure and radical a transformation as Paul’s on the road to Damascus.

So easy for him to make these decisions, right? Wrong! When you read The Three Decisions you will see a man who made a decision and then spent his life committing himself to it. There was nothing easy about it. Committed people only look that way to outsiders. This is such a rarity these days we just assume great fortune or that the stars were aligned when someone leads a charmed life. There are no charmed lives. There are only those who live life giving their all to what they’ve committed to with their decisions.

My father said the secret to a lifelong marriage isn’t compatibility, its commitment, and that you cannot make this decision based on how it goes, but solely on integrity; that God does not put romance in marriage, but in people, and it’s up to us to ensure it stays there. My father also said that God never made a job to make a man; He made men to make a job. And if you wanted a better job, you needed to do a better job. And when my father finally made his personal commitment to accept the Bible as absolute truth, he pursued it with all his heart. He would say, “With all my heart I’m telling you this: you ought to know what you believe and why you believe what you believe, and you ought to be willing to believe it so you can get to the heart of what believing is really all about.”

His lifelong mantra was that if what you’re going to get supersedes what you’re going to give, you’re in the wrong ballpark. In other words, if you are always on the make for a better person, job, or god based on what it’s going to do for you, you aren’t even alive. But when you are so ready to commit to one person, one passion, and one master that you’d give it all up, then you are capable of making the three most important decisions of your life and to live life tremendously and triumphantly.

05
Mar
13

chicken little leadership

0923_ChickenLittle_New_UFSGRAYTrue leaders love a crisis. It gives them the chance to go through the fires and be molded into something stronger and more powerful. The masses love to rally around a leader who lays out a clear vision of how to tackle the problem at hand. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. I’ve worked for some leaders who do just the opposite. They wring their hands and bemoan the challenges and problems they’ve inherited. I remember thinking, “Dear God, why’d you take this job then?” and “Isn’t that why you’re getting paid so much?”

There will always be problems and seemingly unsolvable crises. Welcome to life and being in charge! But Hell holds a special place for “leaders” who “lead” by manufactured crisis. Paralysis justified by fear mongering gets old; make a decision already! When you keep raising the issue again and again and again with no concrete actions to address the problem, it’s insanity. We want action plans from our leaders at the top. Everyone knows that when mid-level managers try to solve an issue NOTHING happens without the commitment and leadership of the person at the very top.

I’ve addressed this very phenomenon in several organizations. When I was a Commander in the Air Force I had a fellow Commander who wanted to utilize our limited resources from a tactical approach whereas I had to consider the overall strategic implications. We tried to work this out, but were coming at the solution from two very different perspectives. The impasse went on for months and the wing leadership did nothing to resolve the conflict.

I did everything I could within my authority and the regulations to deal with the problem but because I was not the one running the show, the ultimate direction of resources was not up to me. But there does come a time when going off the cliff is the only way to draw attention to an issue and a decision. In fact, several of the organizations I left had the wheels fall off their train before any action was taken. I, like most people, don’t deal well with people in ultimate positions of authority who won’t make decisions.

Leaders are supposed to turn crises into opportunities, not run around screaming “the sky is falling” or crying wolf. Working to gain consensus is okay but, in the end, the leader has to make the decision, make it theirs, and then live and die by it. 

15
May
12

passion makes perfect

Too much practice makes a speech sound canned, an emotion fall flat, an activity seem routine. Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. You may be wondering if there truly is something you couldn’t get wrong. There sure is: the decisions you make. You say, “I’ve made plenty of wrong decisions!” That’s not exactly true. Once you make a decision you make it yours, you die by it; you stick by it regardless of the odds or outcome. The decision isn’t what’s failed; it’s your commitment to making it work.

Once it’s in your heart, that’s when the decision is complete.  You have the know why, which is the engine that drives the know how.  A dear friend of mine recently shared a story about the time, years ago, when my father had hired him to speak at the close of an insurance company’s day-long program. My friend was not a professional speaker per se, but a lawyer. He accepted the offer since he was not about to tell his mentor “no”. Several days before the speech, my father asked about the upcoming event. My friend replied that he was ready but that he would need to review the presentation one more time. My father looked at him and said there was no need to review, “Either the words are in your heart, or you are not ready.”

When my father was in his final stages of cancer in 2008, he was confined to his hospice bed barely able to speak above a whisper. I made the trek to Pennsylvania from Missouri every weekend during those last three months. I waited patiently for him to discuss the future of the business with me. He never did. He never even asked me if I had thought about coming back and running the company. I could not understand why he didn’t ask.

But then it hit me. If it wasn’t in my heart to come home of my own volition, it wouldn’t be my decision. He knew if he asked I couldn’t say no. But he also knew that when the going got tough, I would be the first to suck my thumb and complain that I had left everything behind and come back at the behest of someone else. You see, when it’s your decision, you’ve got no one else to blame. When it’s your decision, you live and die by it. When it’s your decision, the end result doesn’t matter; it’s your commitment to the decision that matters. Passion is all about the journey, not the destination.

Final results have a funny way of always working out for those who stay the course. Maybe there are some detours along the way, but that’s what adds an element of surprise to all of life’s experiments. If it’s in my heart, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out because I know I did everything within my power to make it work. And if it doesn’t work out, there’s something greater looming on the horizon that I had better get ready for. In the end, it’ll all work out. If it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end.

So keep on living life tremendously. If there is passion in your heart, you can’t possibly get it wrong.

08
May
12

livin la vida laissez

The phrase laissez-faire is French and broadly implies “let it be”, or “leave it alone.” Helen Keller put it perfectly, “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” Death by neglect is the most painful death of all. It is like dying as a result of one million paper cuts versus one swift, fatal stab to the heart. It’s irritating, agonizingly slow, and open to septic infections every step of the way.

I’ve worked for some laissez-faire companies, the ones that refuse to get involved even when they’ve been alerted something is wrong. I once wrote a letter to a CEO describing some very real issues going on in his organization after the chain dismissed my concerns. The only response he had for me was, “What do you want me to do about it?” The apathy is obvious. If the bosses don’t care, why should the employees?

The laissez-faire mentality can extend to matters of the heart as well. Are you a laissez-faire lover, meaning your relationship isn’t worth investing in? You just let it spiral down the drain until somebody files divorce paperwork or you just lead separate lives under the same roof. You can lead a laissez-faire home life as well, where you just go with the flow and refuse to deal with any of the issues in your life. Maybe as a parent you choose not to exert a strong parental influence; or maybe you allow a bad habit to form and grow into an addiction than slowly takes your life.

The greatest leaders of all time provoke one of two reactions: you either love them so much you’re willing to die for their cause or you hate them so much you wish them non-existent. As Napoleon Bonaparte so eloquently said, “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” When you chose the laissez-faire lifestyle you’re like the fig tree in the Parable from Luke’s Gospel, all leaf and no fruit. The end result is destruction.

There is a sure-fire way to cure this malaise. In his motivational classic, Life Is Tremendous, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says there are only three decisions we make in our entire lifetime. They are: who am I going to live my life with; what am I going to live my life in; and who am I going to live my life for. Once you commit to your life partner (and for us single gals it sure can be to ourselves) you are no longer a laissez-faire lover. You will work and fight to honor the vow you took. Once you decide what you are going to live your life in, your job becomes a passion and you realize that every workplace act is a reflection of your character and a chance to serve others. Once you decide who you are going to live your life for, you become full of passion for that goal, idea, or entity. And passion is the antithesis of laissez-faire.

So quit sitting there watching the seconds tick by. This is your one shot at life so make every aspect of it count. My father used to joke that a lot of people are walking around this planet dead long before they’re buried, but thank God he made it so we don’t stink until we’re put in the ground. Hang around great people and read great books to get you out of the laissez-faire lifestyle and soon you’ll be marveling at the newfound taste of living a fruitful and committed life.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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