Exploring what is around me, I am often reminded of the Choose You™ tools, (Control, Hope, Opportunity, Objectivity, Simplicity, Energy, shared in full in the blog of the 6th February), and I recently went to an event that brought to life the second tool:

Hope. That it is never too late. That there is always more to be done. That you can make a difference. That being more true to yourself , being more open and having more understanding is always possible. That the opportunity to navigate from this point onwards, to grow and to learn and to make different choices is real and doable.

A few weeks ago I went to a ceremony at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, as a guest at a friend’s graduation. She had achieved level 4, a Diploma in Wines and Spirits, something very hard to get. It was a grand affair at London’s Guild Hall, and the photo shows the ‘after party’.

What struck me during the evening were the amazing choices people had made in order to study for their award. They were of all ages and had travelled from all over the world to be at the graduation. As each person went up for their certificate their background and aspirations were shared with us all and it became clear that whilst some were already in the wines and spirits business, many were not. Doctors, insurance brokers, homemakers and many others had taken their passion and chosen to do something with it, moving towards something that they wanted, or away from something that they no longer wanted to be a part of, or both. Their choice had been time consuming, hard work and expensive, but they had done it and were celebrating their success.

It was lovely to be in a room where so many knew they had a choice and had exercised their right to it. These people had Hope and had taken the Opportunity and used their Energy to take Control. So many of the Choose You™ tools all in one place!

Goethe, the German writer of Faust, tells us that:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

The room at that graduation ceremony was full of bold people.

As we explored last time (blog of 2nd April) one of the things that can stop us from making choices that are bold can be our own self-doubts and our “what ifs”.

When I decided to leave my 17 year career with John Lewis to become an independent consultant I was full of my own “what ifs”, but also heard some of the what ifs of others. I got two kinds of reaction from my colleagues and acquaintances when I shared my plan. The first was one of supportive enthusiasm and interest, good wishes and kind words (how brave, how exciting, good luck). The second was one of dismay, of “what if you don’t’ get any work, what if no one will employ you, what if you can’t earn a living?”

It struck me that two things were perhaps fragile with this second group:

A belief in themselves, as I suspect it was their fears that they were sharing, about what could happen to them if they left, not what they feared for me. Or perhaps I was hearing their sadness that they did not believe they had the choice to try something new?

A knowledge and belief that by opening the new door of working as an independent did not mean that the door of corporate life was forever shut. Just because I chose to leave corporate life doesn’t mean I can’t return.

How many of us do what we do not because it fulfils our dreams and aspirations, but because it keeps our fears at bay? And how many of us think about the other side of the coin, what we will lose if we let the ‘what ifs’ limit our horizon?

John Lewis was a wonderful employer and I had a great experience, but I have gained hugely by stepping out in to the world. I have had marvellous and exciting opportunities, have grown in skill and most importantly self-confidence. I have learnt about myself and learnt to trust myself and know that I will be OK.

All those graduates at the Guild Hall had overcome their fears, chosen to step through their ‘what ifs’ and walk out in to their own new world.

Choose You™ is often not about huge decisions such as studying a degree or changing career. We choose ourselves every day through how we think about life, how we approach it and how we deal with what is thrown at us. And like those at the graduation ceremony, what Hope gives us is the opportunity to be bold and use our own genius, magic and power.

Which of your ‘what ifs’ are limiting your horizon? What would your life be like if they weren’t and what would you like to do about that?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Choose You™ project and your examples of Choose You moments, so if you would like to share please email me at jenny@insight-out.co.uk

Thank you for reading this blog. I am enjoying sharing the Choose You™ project and it is lovely to hear that so many of you enjoy reading about it. Do please forward this blog on to anyone you think may be interested.