Taking Both Forks in the Road: Stop Limiting Your Decision Making

Kelly Automotive

We often use “road” metaphors for the activities of our business and our life — “the path to the sale,” “the road not taken,” “living on easy street,” and so on — because it seems like an accurate description. We spend our early years learning to walk (or drive), we learn skills as we go and pick up friends and loved ones along the way. It’s a great way to visualize our journey through life.

There is a point, however, where the metaphor breaks down. What happens when we come across what seems to be a fork in the road? When walking or driving, we’re forced to make a decision when the path divides. Do we go left or right?

My Theory of 5 mentors and I have learned that, when it comes to business and life, we don’t often have to make “OR” decisions. With the right mindset and enough energy and focus, we can turn the “ORs” in front of us into “ANDs.”

Tyranny and Genius

“The Tyranny of the OR” is an idea described by author and business consultant Jim Collins in his book Built to Last, and this limiting thought keeps many — perhaps most — people from experiencing all life has to offer. This concept tells people that they have to decide between two paths that, on the surface, seem to be contradictory. Some of these decision points include:

  • I can live a balanced life OR I can have a prosperous career
  • I can be a good partner OR a good parent
  • I can get the most out of my team OR my team can like me

Having to make decisions like this leads people to wonder what could have been if they had taken the other path, and these decisions can haunt us, making us question our choices and second guess our judgment.

decisionMy mentors and I have chosen to live by another concept described by Collins: “The Genius of the AND.” This concept asks the question, “Do we have to choose?” By looking for ways to grow personally and professionally while implementing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly behaviors that give us more options, we clearly understand that “OR” can be developed into “AND.”

  • We can build a rewarding career AND spend quality time with our family
  • We can maintain our physical and spiritual health AND build a prosperous business
  • We can lead our team to achieve outstanding results AND have their respect 

Many people default to “OR” decisions because that seems to be the easier answer — and probably is easier in the short term. It takes work to build a life where “AND” becomes a possibility, but if we want to experience all that life has to offer us, we must learn how to make “AND” happen.

Training, Education and Imagination

One of the reasons why “OR” seems the only option for many is that they lack the resources to see more than one way forward. If we believe we are working a dead-end job and living a hand-to-mouth existence, seeing the “ANDs” in life is a concept we simply can’t understand. There are only so many hours in the day, and not everything can get done. We feel locked into the decisions we’ve made and there’s no way to do anything different.

Seeking out proper training and education is crucial to expanding our mindset. The more tools we have, the more efficient we can be with our time and energy. It also fires our imagination and curiosity. When we start to ask more positive, open-ended questions — “How do I…?” questions, rather than accepting society’s “bare minimum” answers — we begin to fully comprehend the options in front of us. Instead of spending every moment scratching out a living or recovering from the effort, the increased power of our laser focus allows us to accomplish more with better results with our time.

Avenues open for those who capitalize on opportunities when they appear. To do this, it might mean asking for training at our workplace or going back to school. It could require reading everything we can get our hands on about a particular topic, or finding online learning options. Finding mentors who will show us the way forward is absolutely one of the most powerful methods of breaking out of an “OR” mentality and learning to embrace “The Genius of the AND” thinking.

In a sales situation, it’s tempting to see the customer as a rival, or our opponent. We want to make as much gross on a vehicle as we can, while they don’t want to pay any more than the bare minimum. This is “OR” thinking — only one will win. With the right training and mindset, however, we can change this encounter into, “I want to give this customer the best value for their money and for them to be enthusiastic with the vehicle, the dealership, the sales process and their sales consultant.” This is “AND” thinking.

While it’s easier to not put in the extra effort — watching television and sleeping in is a much more comfortable path — a life filled with “AND” possibilities will ultimately be much more rewarding. It’s absolutely worth putting up with some short-term pain when the long-term gain is so amazing

Related: Put Your Mind in the Right Position for Success – Walter Bond

Prior Programming

Another factor that we might not be aware of is the lessons we might have received from our parents, friends and others in our lives. If we were raised believing that there was only “OR” thinking, and that major success and achievement are for “other people,” we might have difficulty breaking out of the “victim” mindset. Living a “Genius of the AND” lifestyle might not even occur to us.

Our parents and peers, in most cases, weren’t trying to limit our ambitions, but they didn’t understand how to live an “AND” lifestyle — or that it was even possible. It’s up to us to chart our own course and take full advantage of what’s in front of us.

The next time we are confronted by what seems to be an “OR” choice, stop for a moment and dig deep into examining the situation. What will we do to make it an “AND” decision? What will it take to make that happen? When we apply enough time, energy and focus, can the “OR” be flipped into an “AND”? Absolutely! Prosperity and success are not something that happens only to other people. When we do the work, we will be rewarded.

Turning “ORs” into “ANDs”

People often limit themselves to making decisions without even considering other options. What if we didn’t have to choose “left” or “right”? How much more rewarding would our lives be if we collapsed different paths into one road that lead to a better, more complete and fulfilling life?

By putting in the effort, receiving the training and asking mentors to share with us the secrets of living our best life, we will fully experience “The Genius of the AND” and avoid “The Tyranny of the OR.”

Did you enjoy this article from Chris Saraceno? Read other articles from him here.

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This has been a JBF Business Media production.