The Choices We Make


Success literature is filled with the axiomatic premise that the choices we make determine our success and our failure more than anything else. Read the works of Stephen R. Covey, Napoleon Hill, Jack Canfield and a hundred others and the message is the same – we must accept responsibility for our success or our failure because we are responsible for it.

Observations of Successful and Unsuccessful people  

In addition to spending a lifetime studying about what makes people successful I have had a front row seat to watch what makes people succeed and fail. I have spent most of my career watching people in courtrooms. I watch the attorneys, the judges, the court staff, but most importantly I watch the litigants. Litigants are the people who come to court to seek justice. A large number of those litigants are defendants in criminal cases. A large number of those people have made choices to engage in criminal conduct. Many of them made choices to use illicit drugs and become involved in a world of crime and despair driven by this illicit drug use.

If they are guilty, those criminal defendants who will be successful after the trials and court hearings are over are the ones who have accepted full responsibility for their own fate. They accept that they made the poor choices that led to addiction and to criminal conduct. They then commit to changing those choices – to making new choices to live a productive and law abiding life. I never see those people in court again.

Sadly, a large number of those people convicted of crimes do not accept responsibility for their choices. They blame everyone and everything for their plight. They blame their attorney for not adequately representing them. They blame the prosecutor for prosecuting them. They blame the police officer for arresting them. They blame their co-defendants for “getting them caught” or getting them in trouble. They blame the “wrong crowd” they fell in with. They blame their lack of education, their health problems, their family problems, their unemployed status, and if it fits, they blame the weather. They blame anything and anyone except the person who is completely responsible for their choices – themselves. I know I will see those people again and again in court. Until they accept full responsibility for their choices they will continue to make poor ones and suffer the consequences.

Successful people own their choices

I also observe the criminal defendants who accept responsibility and make a change in their lives. They stop blaming others and start making good choices. They find success.

I see the professionals: attorneys, judges, doctors, police officers, and others, who made the choices to obtain an education, pursue a career, obey the law and advance their lives along a positive path. Those people are successful.

It is important to note that those who succeed often have many excuses available to them to fail. Some of them have learning disabilities. Some have health problems. Some grew up in poverty.

I watch a lawyer who suffers from ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and yet he succeeds.

I watch a judge who grew up often homeless in grinding poverty and yet she has succeeded brilliantly. I know another judge who was a juvenile delinquent and spent his time behind bars as a youth. Today he excels in his profession.

The list goes on endlessly. I see people every day who own their choices and take responsibility for their fate. They succeed. They suffer set-backs. They know the sting of defeat. But they do not give up and they do not waste time blaming others for their lack of success.

Successful people do not look for the easy way out. They do not give up. They understand the power of their choices every day and it shows.

Successful people set well-structured goals and pursue them

Successful people set well defined goals and follow through to accomplish them. For an excellent description of well define goals and how to use them read Michael Hyatt’s blog post on Goal Setting. As Michael points out people who set good goals and pursue them find satisfaction in the accomplishment. There is scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of this.

Successful people do not waste time blaming others

The bottom line for all of us is that we all encounter disappointment and failure. We all are faced with obstacles, large and small. Ultimately the deciding factor in whether or not we overcome those failures and obstacles is just one thing: the choices we make.

On paper it sounds easy. In everyday life it is difficult. We are all predisposed to blame other people and circumstances for our plight. But until we truly accept that responsibility for our own fate and make the right choices, every day, to accomplish our goals, we are doomed to fail.

It is that simple. It may not always be easy, but like most essential truths it is simple.

What choices do you make? Do you accept ultimate responsibility for your choices? Do you set realistic and well defined goals and then follow through with them?

If your answers to those questions are yes, then you are either successful or on the road to success. If you cannot say yes to those questions you have identified the reason why you are not successful.

It really is that simple.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “The Choices We Make

    • Hi Martin,

      Thanks for the comment. It is great to read lots of material as you build your business. Do let me know what on the blog you find most helpful, what you’d like to see more of or less of.

      Wishing you the best,


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