Decisions, Decisions

Here are some examples in my lifetime that shaped my decision-making:

* I watched my dad reject a huge promotion at Ford Motor Company because it required the family to move, and he didn’t want to do that to his wife and kids who were happy where they were. His decision was about priorities and character.

* I saw my dad and uncle break up a fight when two guys were robbing another in a parking lot of a department store. They decided not to look the other way.

* I recall the look on an aging professor’s face when I saw him after class and told him he had inspired me. That decision was about coming forward. Years later I received a letter from him, telling me that my visit had encouraged him to stay at the university another five years until he reached his full retirement. I learned that not holding back and telling someone how you really feel is always a good decision.

* In speaking with a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, I created a story about someone who had gone through the same malady years before and was now fine. My friend believed me, and it gave him hope when he had little else. He has fully recovered. My decision to lie was the only device I could come up with to alleviate his depression, and I learned that sometimes a little deception may be excused.

* I watched my mother take the time to treat every person she met with the same grace and interest. As a piano teacher, music director and church organist, she was constantly listening as people went on and on about how they always wanted to play the piano. She would smile week after week, lesson after lesson, and then eventually mention that the students should begin to evaluate their progress and decide if that was something they really wanted to pursue. By then they were usually so frustrated they gladly accepted her nudge and quit altogether. The finesse of creating and building the case before delivering the final closing argument was not lost on me, and it too is one of the sharpest tools in my box. Leading people to make their own decisions has much more staying power than telling them what to do (or not to do).

Being a life observer, I guess there is no one example that is greater than any other, but my point is that every moment of life involves decisions, and the art of decision-making can only come from the very core of what you hold dear and who you are. As decisions are made about you, your reaction to them determines the maturity with how you navigate your life.

Much like my mom letting students discover their own skill level or lack thereof, you now stand at a crossroad to review the life you have led, which is the sum of all the decisions you have made, and decide if those brought you to a good place or one that needs adjustment. If the answer is the latter, your next decision may be the biggest of your life.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He can be reached via e-mail at

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