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Sunday April 2nd, 2023
What I learned this week | Choice
Something intrigues me about the person behind the person—the coach. I'm also fascinated by multidisciplinary people with non-linear career paths. Rick Rubin is one of those people. Under the radar for most of his career, his idioms are now plastered all over the Internet. His approach to producing music, entrepreneurship, meditation, and more fascinates me. I've been diving into all things Rubin since I learned about his Showtime series, book, and a ton of promotion that's followed.
Below I linked my two favorite Rick Rubin interviews, both recent (2023). Listening got me thinking about the power of making a choice.
Read on? Please do.
🔖 My feed this week
🎼 What I learned this week
I wasn't a kid that knew exactly what I wanted. I have 101 ideas, and I often debate which one I'm supposed to do and who I'm supposed to be. Entrepreneur, coach, investor, writer, researcher, product person... and don't get me started on industries or problems to solve. One morning I'm enthusiastic about the future of food or energy; the next day, I'm excited about something new.
This inner dispute can be exhausting. I've had to learn to make choices in a way that feels good. Something that's been massively helpful to me is differentiating between choice and decision.
Decisions imply a right path and a wrong one, and as a result, they can feel heavy—leaving us entangled with multiple alternatives and worried like there's no turning back. Choices, on the other hand, are simple and explicit. They send clear energetic signals to the universe about what we want. There's no anxiety that somehow we might mess it up. You don't need a reason to make a choice. You can just choose.
Decisions put two things at odds, usually one right and one wrong. Or one good and one bad. This false paradox, created by the context decision, leaves us entangled with the option we didn't want. It might sound strange at first, but when we pick one thing because we don't want another, we are still attached to the other thing—the one we didn't want. It's like telling the universe; I want to be rich because I don't want to be poor, or I want a partner because I'm scared to be alone. Whether we notice it or not, in both cases, we are still being afraid. And because the universe responds not only to what we want but to who we are being and how we feel, both of these statements drag the unwanted thing into the future.
The two examples above are paraphrased from my own life. I never said these statements outwardly. They were unconscious. And whether we notice them or not, we all have subconscious thoughts based on how we were raised, things our parents believe, our religion, society at large, or whatever. These views can cause us to make fear-based decisions instead of choosing and going after things we really want.
Choices do not put things at odds. A choice sends the universe a clear, unfiltered message about what we want. I choose to be rich, period. or I want a partner because I want one. Choice has a light, freeing quality to it. Decisions, on the other hand, can feel weighty and consuming. There's a needy quality to a decision. Like, I need this thing to happen or else! Choices do not require reasons, justifications, or defenses.
Choices also let us pick things without feeling trapped or pigeonholed. Contrary to popular belief, making a decision doesn't actually kill off the other options. For example, just because you went to medical school does not mean you must be a doctor. If it suits you, choose one thing today and something new tomorrow. Commitment does not mean deciding and never revisiting other options. That's called attachment—a needy I went to medical school, and now I'm trapped vibe. I think about commitment as an everyday choice I get to make, knowing full well that other options are always available.
Choices deal harshly with reality. Absolutely no rule says that going to medical school means you have to be a doctor. Yes, it costs money. And yes, you'll need to learn new skills. But there's nothing inherently inhibiting. Decisions, on the other hand, deal with stories. Narratives like I spent so many years building this business and how I have to keep going come from fear-based decision making, not choice.
Decisions put things at odds and are rooted in fear-based stories we have about what could or should happen. Choices come from a place of actually wanting something just because you want it.
Remembering I get to choose takes the pressure off. I can be a writer today and an entrepreneur tomorrow. I can learn about AI this morning and play piano later. I can continuously commit to building my business just because I choose to do so, not because I have to based on what society says.
🧰 Try this on
Replace BUT with AND
You can flip a decision into a choice by replacing the word BUT with AND.
BUTs: weighty statements that can make you feel trapped by a decision
I want to be a designer BUT I want also to be a chef.
I want to live in New York City, BUT I think about living in Paris.
I want to start a company, BUT I want the safety of a full-time job.
ANDs: light statements likely followed by creativity and action
I want to be a designer AND I also want to be a chef.
I want to live in New York City, AND I think about living in Paris.
I want to start a company, AND I want the safety of a full-time job.
The later statements tend to lead to more creativity and action instead of overthinking and inaction. Steph and I use this simple tool at Huddle with the team, especially when we feel stuck on a path forward.
AND statements for work.
We want to rebrand the company, BUT we have limited resources.
This BUT statement puts up a wall. We must decide whether to rebrand the company or spend all of our limited resources.
We want to rebrand the company, AND we have limited resources.
The AND version suggests that there's a path forward. It pushes the team to think about possibilities, like paying equity for a portion of the rebrand 😉.