Joanne and I toured the Maritime Museum of San Diego last week. One of the vessels displayed there is a Russian B-39 Submarine. I was awestruck at the complexity of the valves, gauges and controls. I imagined a young sailor confronted with the choices available, and having to make rapid decisions under extreme pressure. (This is a shot of just one of many control centers in the belly of that beast.)
Fortunately for us, most of our decisions are more clearly defined. We know right from wrong and what choices will work in our favor and which will lead to poor consequences. And yet I see in me the struggle to push back that one more piece of cheesecake or to do the stretching I know avoids my back pain.
Recently we went to a coming home party for a young man who had just gotten out of prison – for the third time. We wanted to celebrate his new beginning and encourage him about the options for a much better life. We walked in to the project housing and were immediately immersed in an atmosphere that did not feel positive and successful. The cigarettes and beer were child’s play here. Marijuana, tequila, vodka and cocaine were the norm. The music blasting so loud we had to yell to be heard was not affirming healthy relationships and contributing to one’s community. No, the lyrics were vile and demeaning to your mother, my mother, people in general and spoke of doing things no rational human should ever encounter.
I thought – I know where these decisions lead and my heart sank for the young man we were visiting. As soon as he saw us he began apologizing – saying he didn’t want us to see him that way. And yet he was making the choices to put him right back in the environment that got him in trouble previously.
Is it easier to make choices that lead to our harm than lead to our good? Why is smoking still attractive to kids today with all we know about the harm being done? Why do we make comments to our spouses that will strain the relationship? Why do we spend time with people who we know will hold us back from our dreams or slow the process dramatically?
In The Compound Effect, author Darren Hardy talks about the accumulative effect of our decisions. Choices we make today will impact our life 10, 15 and 20 years from now.
What doors are you opening, wheels you’re turning, relationships you’re nurturing today for the future you want 10 years from now? Are you turning the handle that will assure a positive future or the one that will lead to your destruction?