The ripple effect of our choices, like throwing a stone in the pond, stretch in all directions and affect the lives of those around us.

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The ripple effect of our choices, like throwing a stone in the pond, stretch in all directions and affect the lives of those around us.

Black Belt Leadership
Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · 21 January 2020
Tags: beablackbeltleader
Choices Have a Life, Too!
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

As the father of six (3 boys and 3 girls), life was NEVER dull around our house, and there was always a lesson to be learned or a "teachable moment" to reflect on a life event. Each choice my children made shaped their character and helped define the man or woman they would ultimately become.

I've written about this previously, but have recently been asked more than once at recent speaking or training events what advice I could give to parents still raising younger children at home. So, I'm guessing it's time to revisit this topic.

Whether you're leading yourself, a family, other people, or all of the above what I'm about to share is important if you want to enjoy not only a successful life but living a life of significance. It's a simple, but profound truth.

Of all the things I've taught my children, I can summarize it in one statement:

Life is a series of choices and consequences. You choose your choices. Your consequences happen as a result of the choices you've made. So if you don't like the consequences of life you are experiencing right now, you have to change your choices.

That's it. Life is a series of choices and consequences. Every choice you make takes on a life of its own, as it shapes the consequences (experiences) of your life. For example, you choose to over-eat, you're going to get fat. If you can't see your shoes when you stand up because you're belly is in the way, that's the consequence of a poor health choice.

By the same token, choose to be diligent in your studies, you're going to make good grades and someone else will pay for you to go to college. The choice to be diligent sets in motion a series of consequences that take on a life of its own, as it helps to define the character of who you are and what you will become.

I participate in a career path forum on LinkedIn, giving advice to individuals who are about to graduate from college or vo-tech or are considering a career change. This simple but profound truth often weaves its way into the conversation as the choices we make truly define the life we will live.

If we could all learn to make better choices, our lives would be better as a result.

I heard John Maxwell share a story he was told by basketball coaching legend, John Wooden. It goes something like this. Coach Wooden asked a player if he was giving 100% that day in practice. The young man said he was only giving about 80% today, but he'd give 120% tomorrow. Coach Wooden took the young man aside and told him the best you can give is 100%. That's all you've got. If you fail to give 100% today, you failed. Coach Wooden often reminded his players of this simple (yet profound) choices and consequences truth:

When opportunity presents itself, it's too late to prepare.

As a leader, you set the example for those you're leading. Whether it is your children, kids on a sports team, team members in your business, or volunteers in a nonprofit, the choices you make take on a life of their own, and they not only affect you, they impact those you are leading. Our choices (good or bad) are magnified in the lives of those we are leading, as our choices take on a life of their own.

On an icy cold morning, January 28, 1986, NASA gave the go-ahead for the Challenger shuttle to launch. That infamous decision lead to an O-ring failure which resulted in the space shuttle exploding in midair. That choice, and the choices leading up to that choice, took on a life of its own and the consequences of that choice had lasting ramifications.

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan defied many of his advisors and made the conscious choice to issue a bold challenge to the Russian Prime Minister to tear down the Berlin Wall that had separated Germany since it was erected in 1961. That choice lead to the reunification of Germany and helped to bring about an end to the decades-long Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Two choices. Two different sets of consequences. Every choice, big or small, comes with a consequence. Those consequences define who we are and influence what we become. Further, our choices (and the consequences that follow) impact the lives of those we are leading, and those they are leading as well.

The ripple effect of our choices, like throwing a stone in the pond, stretch in all directions and affect the lives of those around us.

To bring the story of my kids full-circle, we gathered around the TV one night to watch the new DVD release of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". In one scene, Indiana Jones has successfully navigated the three challenges to reach the resting place of the Holy Grail. There he meets an aged Knight who had guarded the Grail for centuries.

The room was full of cups of all shapes and sizes. Indiana Jones had to quickly find the true Grail if he was going to save the life of his father, who had been shot and was dying. The aged knight looked at Indiana Jones and said, "You must choose, but choose wisely..." My kids looked at each other and one of them said, "Wow, Dad, he sounds like you."

Today, I still remind my kids (and myself) that life is a series of choices and consequences. We choose our choices. The consequences of our lives happen as a result of the choices we've made. So if we don't like the consequences we are experiencing right now, we have to change our choices.

"We must choose, but choose wisely..."

I leave you with one of my famous quotes of basketball great, John Wooden, whose words eloquently sum up what I've shared. I encourage you to consider the wisdom of these words:

"There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you."


2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach and trainer.  
Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at:  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

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