Rarely does success or failure result from one choice, or one lucky break. but rather the quality of your life is determined by the multitude of small choices that you make on a regular basis.
When I was 10-years-old I changed schools. My sister had been a pupil at the new school for two years before I arrived. And in that time had become the school sporting champion. Because of my sister’s sporting prowess I was welcomed by the teachers and other students with open arms. For the first few weeks I was popular until the day I had to participate in a running race. I came second last. Within a short period of time I went from being popular to being the one no-one wanted on their team. At that time, I made a decision that had a major impact on the rest of my life. I decided that I was hopeless at sport. I would do whatever it took to avoid humiliation by avoiding any type of sport or exercise.
That same year Wilma Rudolph, a young black woman from America, won a bronze medal in track and field at the Melbourne Olympic Games. As a young child Wilma suffered many illnesses including scarlet fever, whooping cough, double pneumonia and polio which left her with a twisted foot and leg. The doctors told Wilma’s mother that she would never walk. Wilma also had an older sister who was on a basketball team. Even though Wilma wasn’t able to walk without crutches until she was 12-years-old she was motivated by her sister’s success and vowed that she too would play basketball one day.
That seemingly inconsequential decision, which I made when I was 10-years-old, had far reaching consequences. For many years I went out of my way to avoid exercise and sport, which led to a lifelong struggle with my weight. Carrying so much extra weight contributed to arthritis, which restricted my mobility and led to my need for joint replacements. Wilma’s decision on the other hand started her on a road that would inspire others.
Decisions are generally regarded as conclusions you arrive at, or judgements you make. They influence your perception of yourself, other people and life in general. Your perception determines how much money you make, how intelligent you are and even how hard or easy your life will be.
Your perception of life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
Harvard Professor Dr Robert Rosenthal had always been fascinated with the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy and keen to document the power of decisions he set out to investigate. He set up a study that involved 300 children who had equal academic abilities. The children were divided into two groups. One group of students was given to teachers who were told the children were all high achievers. The other teachers were told that the children were underachievers. By the end of the year it was found that the groups lived up to the labels that were placed upon them. The high achievers were doing very well while the class of underachievers was doing below average work.
Dr Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor1, also carried out an interesting experiment with two groups of people. One group consisted of people who considered themselves ‘lucky’. The second group was made up of people who considered themselves to be ‘unlucky’. Both groups were asked to count the number of photographs that appeared in a newspaper. The people who considered themselves unlucky took several minutes to complete this exercise as they flipped through each page and counted the photographs. On average the group who considered themselves to be lucky only took several seconds to complete the task. The reason for this was that most of them had stopped on the second page of the newspaper after seeing the message: “Stop counting: there are 43 photographs in this newspaper”.
The people conducting the experiment concluded that people who believe they are lucky are always on the lookout for unexpected good fortune. Whereas those who believe they are unlucky have closed minds, and therefore miss opportunities.
This article is from the book Every Choice Matters, published by Balboa Press.
Anne Hartley is the author of seven books, is a life coach and runs a life coach training school. Her personal mission is to support people to believe in themselves, their dreams and their life purpose.
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