Choices And Consequences


Not everybody wants the same things; nor do people who do want the same things want them to the same degree.

Take yesterday. So there I was on day 1 of a 7 day career exploration workshop. 7 days isn’t a long time to invest in looking at the various options and settling on one to pursue for the immediate future, but on the other hand, when you receive guidance and encouragement and go at it with some enthusiasm, you can indeed learn a lot about yourself. So yes, you could progress to the point where you move forward with confidence towards an employment goal. Even if there’s homework left to do researching a couple of options after the class has ended, this too is progress.

Now one of the things I made clear – and ALWAYS make clear on day 1 of any workshop I run, is that attendance is critically important. Missing time won’t get a person removed automatically; after all, previously scheduled appointments can’t always be shuffled around outside of the 7 days. I tell participants on day 1 that they have to be present to get the most out of the experience. While it’s true they would return from time away to find all the handouts on their desk, completing them on their own just isn’t the same as doing it in a facilitated discussion.

If a day is missed, not only would they have to catch up on the next by completing the self-assessments we covered in their absence, their voices would be missing in the discussions which occurred in their absence. So not only is the experience for the person lacking, so too is the experience of the entire group who loses out from the missed persons vocal input.

At one point in the day, one woman announced she had something to talk with me about after class. Odd to announce to an entire class I thought and not to come up at break or lunch and mention, but there it was. After class she told me she had a dilemma. As much as she wanted to be in class everyday and not miss anything, she also wanted to go with her daughter’s class on a school trip. She said she’d make up the work and asked my permission.

I told her the choice was hers to make – as I believe it always is – to be where she wanted/needed to be. I wouldn’t decide for her, or tell her what I would do in her place. Yes, I reminded her, she would get the handouts to complete, but she would not get the full value of the experience, including the discussion that accompanied each one; nor would she be able to contribute to those discussions to help others. Her choice.

I get that what most people want is for me to give them my blessings. I understand that single mothers such as her are highly motivated by their children; that they are their entire world. Because they live for their children, they hope that I’d see things exactly the same way and say, “Oh of course, that’s important so go have a good time and do so with my full support.” I didn’t say this though. I’m not hard or cruel either.

Life is all about choices and every choice comes with a consequence. Some of those consequences are minor and some are major. As we’re all different, and see things different, what one person might consider to be the right choice for them might not be the choice someone else would make given the same situation. Letting people make their own choices empowers them; making the choices for them or severely punishing them for making a choice we wouldn’t make does the opposite. So missing a day out of 7 comes with consequences,  but the decision is not mine to make for her.

There is however another consequence to her decision to which she is entirely unaware. This career exploration workshop isn’t the only one I run. There is one workshop which is an invitation-only, intensive job searching workshop. What participants in all my workshops don’t know is that I’m watching, listening, evaluating and re-evaluating each and every one of them throughout our entire time together. I’m watching for the words and actions that tell me people are either ready for that opportunity to be extended to them or not. In other words, although everyone might tell me they are ready to work and want to work, not everyone wants it to the same degree.

Having been told yesterday in the larger group that these 7 days were a rare opportunity to get to know themselves better and explore what kind of work would make the most of each persons talents, interests and bring them the most satisfaction, I’m looking at each person and gauging their commitment to that end. Who is putting in the time and effort, who is contributing and getting the most out of this experience which many working people would love to undertake if only they could; learning about themselves and what would make them most happy.

We shall see what she chooses, but my money goes with missing the day to attend the school trip. It’s not the wrong choice in many ways; but it is a choice just the same.

Make your choices with foresight and conviction and whatever you choose, consider the implications.

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