Earlier this week someone took something that didn’t belong to them. I knew who it was but had to figure out how to ask for the item back without humiliating or embarrassing the person in front of his peers. At first, I asked the group if anyone had forgotten to return all items they had used. Nothing. So then, standing next to the man who had the item, I said; “Okay, who has (insert item name)?” The man started to laugh and gave it to me while the other people in the group laughed with him. “I almost got away with it,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I couldn’t let him walk away and a confrontation could have a detrimental impact on the progress we’ve made. Obviously, he’s still a work in progress but aren’t we all?
Good choices. It’s the cornerstone of all the services our organization does with males. Without good choices, life is harder than it needs to be and can exact a tremendous and painful toll. Old habits, ways of thinking, choosing the best isn’t easy but not impossible. Grace, kindness and an opportunity for forgiveness are things we all need.
I watched a video this week about an important military leader giving graduates a piece of advice. He said; “If you want to change your life, improve your life, make your bed every morning.” He went on to elaborate and talked about how a simple disciplined act at the beginning of your day can positively shape your day, your week, your life. I’m not sure I bought all of what he was selling but I do think good choices today lead to good results tomorrow.
Tonight I spoke to a group of guys who have each made the decision over the last two months to come to class and learn how to be better men and better dads. I tell them each week it starts with; “Good choices which lead to being good men and then good dads. It all starts with the choices you make today and they determine the type of man you will be tomorrow.”
Moments, hours, days, years from now, when we lay in a box and people stand over us staring, what will they say? A lot of what is said will be determined by the decisions we make presently, the routine of our everyday life.
I heard a business investor say today that; “Right choices bring the wrong results and wrong choices bring the right results all the time when it comes to investing your money.” Luckily, I don’t have enough money to worry about whether or not this is true but it did cause me to think about the consequences of our decisions.
One of the core principles I try to give to the men I work with is that; “Choice is destiny. What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.” I believe this to be true but I am also old enough to know life is never predictable and the unexpected could be around the corner ready to smack you!
As I thought about this gentleman’s words today I realized they were indeed factual. Making bad decisions could lead to something unexpectedly joyful but the odds are long. Also, we make good decisions, not just because they will lead us to something better, but because of who we are in the deepest part. We certainly hope our lives will be blessed by choosing fidelity to ourselves and those we love but no matter our destiny. We choose to be good because we know it is the better way.
The Next Step –
Someone asked me yesterday evening; “So how was your birthday? Do anything special?” “Yes,‘ I replied, ‘I started it in therapy and ended it in jail!” I explained that on Wednesday nights I teach an incarcerated father’s class at the local corrections facility.
The two classes I lead are often two highlights of my week. They aren’t always easy classes to teach but they are usually filled with; “Aha!” moments from at least one of the dads. Last night we talked about things we’ve done that we’re sorry for and how to begin writing the rest of our story; one in which we can be proud. Our motto; “Good choices make Good Men make Good Fathers” is not just a catchy phrase but the basis of all that we learn over the 3 month period we are together.
Most of the men in our class aren’t used to making good decisions on a regular basis. What we try to do is figure out how to live a life where good choices are the norm, not the exception. We understand that if we can do this we can build a good life, be a good man, a good dad, a good person, one choice, one step at a time.
I think these lessons are for us all, not just the men in my classes.