Change Your Life by Making "True Decisions"

"We've tried cripples before and it didn't work."

That's what one of deans at UC Berkeley said to Ed Roberts back in the early 1960s in an effort to deny him entry to their college.

The dean told Roberts an education would be wasted on him because he was too disabled to ever get a job.

Fortunately, other deans disagreed.

Roberts went on to earn B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science.

In 1976, he was appointed Director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation by California Governor Jerry Brown. It was the very same agency that had once labeled him too severely disabled to ever be able to work. He served in that post until 1983. He later returned to UC Berkeley and co-founded the World Institute on Disability.

So what was Roberts' disability?

In 1953, two years before Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine; Roberts, 14, contracted polio. The disease paralyzed him from the neck down with the exception of two fingers on one hand and several toes.

At night, he slept in an iron lung. Outside of it, he survived by "frog breathing," a technique for swallowing air using his facial and neck muscles.

So why was Roberts able to achieve so much in his life, while others barely get their feet off the ground?

Well, first of all, it’s because he took action.

But there's something else, something that happened before he took action …

Roberts made decisions. The decisions we make — and the decisions we fail to make — determine our lives and ultimately who we become in life and what we achieve.

Motivational expert Anthony Robbins often cites Roberts as an example of how making positive decisions can have a powerful impact on one's destiny.

The three decisions that control your destiny

In his bestselling book, Awaken the Giant Within, Robbins points out that there are three decisions in life that ultimately determine what you'll do, how you'll feel, what you notice, what you contribute, and who you will become. They are your decisions about:

  1. What to focus on.
  2. What things mean to you.
  3. What to do to create the results you desire.

Looking to make better decisions in life? Robbins says the first thing you should do is …

Establish a baseline standard

"If you don't set a baseline standard for what you'll accept in your life, you'll find it's easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that's far below what you deserve," he writes.

Robbins adds that many people don't set a baseline standard because they are too busy making excuses. They feel they can't achieve their goals because of the way their parents treated them, the lack of opportunity growing up, the education they missed out on, etc.

But here's the thing …

According to Robbins, it's not our conditions, but the decisions we make that determines our destiny.
Ed Roberts is a great example of this. People who grow up with far better conditions than Roberts experience far lesser outcomes.

So, Robbins provides …

Six quick keys to help you harness the power of your decisions

1) Remember the true power of making decisions.

A decision has the power to change your life. The right decision could result in an entirely new career … new relationships … more clients … more money … a better lifestyle … more love in your life, etc.

2) Realize that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment — a true decision.

A "true decision" is a decision that is tied to action. Action flows from it. It becomes a "cause set in motion." If you are clear on your values and life goals, Robbins says you should be able to make true decisions relatively quickly.

3) Make decisions often.

The more decisions you make, the better you become at making them. So make decisions often. In fact, why don't you make a decision right now about something you've been putting off?

4) Learn from your decisions.

When a decision doesn't turn out the way you hoped or imagined, transform it into a learning situation. Don't focus on the short-term setback; look for the lesson or hidden opportunity.

5) Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.

Once you make a decision, while you should be committed to achieving your goal, you should also be open to changing course or adjusting your approach if necessary. Don't be overly rigid. And be open to new ideas. As the saying goes (however unpleasant it may be), "There is more than one way to skin a cat."

6) Enjoy making decisions.

In one moment of time, with one decision, you could change the course of your life. It could be spurred on by the next person you meet, book you read, movie you see, or event you witness. So embrace your decisions, be passionate about them, and get excited about the future possibilities life has in store for you.

Two important decision-making tips

1) You must have a long-term focus.

Most of the challenges we face in life come from a short-term focus. Examples of these are: overeating, drinking, smoking, feeling overwhelmed, and basically giving up on our dreams. No individual (or company for that matter) has ever been successful having only a short-term focus.

Failure occurs due to a series of failures. Failure to take action. Failure to follow up. Failure to persist. Failure to manage our emotional state.

Success results from making a series of good decisions. The decision to hold yourself to a high standard, to contribute, to continually feed your mind, to take action. Decisions that sacrifice instant gratification for long-term satisfaction.

2) You must overcome your fears of making the wrong decision.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes bad decisions now and again. Extremely successful people are successful because they've made more poor decisions in their lives.

You already possess what you need to change your life

Making "true decisions" is a catalyst you need to transform all your dreams into reality.

Robbins reminds us that "the most exciting thing about this force, this power, is that you already possess it."

It's not reserved just for the select few.

You don't have to flash a membership card to qualify.

It's available to both the common laborers and the kings of this world.

As Ed Roberts proved, it's available to anyone who possesses the spirit and drive within them to make good decisions in their life and follow their decisions with massive action.

Roberts, who died on March 14, 1995 at the age of 56, said the transformation in his life started when he made the decision to stop thinking of himself as a "helpless cripple" and start thinking of himself as a "star."

As a result, he became a pioneering leader for disability rights.

You too are a star.

Will today be the day you start making decisions that will move your life forward and are always accompanied by massive action?

If "yes," Robbins challenges us all to proclaim that …

"This is who I am. This is what my life is about. And this is what I'm going to do. Nothing will stop me from achieving my destiny. I will not be denied."

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Published: May 17, 2013

1 Response to “Change Your Life by Making "True Decisions"”

  1. I've printed this article out, because there are a number of people I know who have been made to feel unempowered who would benefit from it. You've written it in such a way, John, that the message is positive, actionable and, above all, supremely heartening. Thanks for it!

    MariaNMay 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm


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