Leaders Living Their Choices


As I travel the country training leaders, it still amazes me how many people say the actions of others make them angry, upset, or disappointed.

People believe the actions of others MAKE them act out in a certain manner.

Of course, when we put some thought behind it, we realize no one has the ability to make us do anything. They simply choose an action, and we CHOOSE our response. If our response is grounded in negative emotion (and it usually is), it is because we chose to be negative, not because we were made to. Unless we have been hypnotized, nobody makes us do anything.

You are where you are today as the result of the cumulative choices that you have made.” ~ Neal Boortz

Why Do We Choose Negative Behaviors?

First, most people do not realize they are choosing to react negatively. Most people still believe other people actually make them mad. It is one of those things “we don’t know that we don’t know.”

Secondly, our mind, and specifically our sub-conscious mind (amygdala) functions through emotion. It is where all of our habits and behaviors we have learned throughout our life experience are stored. You could call it our comfort zone. If you think back to what you used to do as a two-year-old when you wanted your way, the answer is probably to act out in some fashion.

By acting out, you would get attention and possibly even what you wanted. You learned: acting out = attention. So when you wanted attention or to get your way, the sub-conscious mind responded the solution is to act out.

The problem is that if you have never taught your sub-conscious mind a new set of behaviors, you will use and display those two-year old behaviors even now.

Sometimes these behaviors are cute from a two-year-old. But how do they look on a twenty-two year old, or even a forty-two year old? Usually those behaviors are not very attractive coming from an adult! For many of us, they cause us more problems than benefits or solutions.

What Now?

There are many tools to help people build new behaviors as an adult instead of using our two-year old information. One of my personal favorites is, How To Control Your Anger Before It Controls You, by Albert Ellis. Often called the father of modern psychology, Ellis developed REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It is a method by which we learn to send our information to our conscious mind (the prefrontal cortex) instead of automatically letting our sub-conscious handle it.

We must learn to control our emotions (or use them positively), and respond based on our personal goals, instead of reacting through our negative emotions (anger, disappointment, unhappiness, impatience, etc.).

Your First Step

Step one is realizing that nobody can make you do anything. It is not peer pressure, manipulation, need to fit in, need to get your way, nor anything else that makes you do the things you do — It is YOU that controls you!

Your choice, your action!

Since these behaviors often cause more problems than they solve, I challenge everyone – including you – to CHOOSE a new set of behaviors based in positivity, fact, and effectiveness. Simply because I am certain of one thing:

If you do the same things you have done before, you will get the same results!

How have you seen someone else react in a childish way? Have you reacted to something in this way recently (be honest)? What other “steps” have you witnessed or learned that could enable you to respond positively and powerfully, regardless of the situation?

A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

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Edited by Mike Weppler

Image Sources: files.motherinchief.com

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2 responses to “Leaders Living Their Choices

  1. This is a great reminder, one quote I keep coming back to (Sorry I don’t know who said it) is:

    “Circumstance doesn’t make the man… it reveals him.”

    As you talked about training your subconscious I thought this was fitting, because it’s true, how you react when you’re not thinking things through is a great window into what’s really going on inside you.

    Thanks for the great read and the challenge to do better.


  2. Hi Anthony,

    I enjoyed your post.

    It’s Funny, I just wrote a blog on this topic called “Giving your Leadership Away.” In addition to my SpeedReaching people work, I deliver lectures and workshops centered around self-accountability for wellbeing and happiness; reclaiming personal authority; and bringing your value to work.

    I too am amazed at how many “leaders” (and people in general) are still living what I call the “blame paradigm.”

    How often do you see someone look at another person and ask, “Why are you doing this to [me/us/the company]?” when they could instead lead with something like, “I *feel* [this way] about your choice; could you help me understand how you did what you did?”

    Such a difference in expression/questioning can make all the difference in the word in whether a communication spirals downward into pointless battle, or expands into discourse and better understanding or resolution. Plus, it’s much more mature.




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