Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 3 (or 5?) Cs of Life

The three variables, choices, chances, and changes, resonate well with me. The message itself seems good at first blush, but it really falls apart on closer inspection. "You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change?" Wrong, Bucko! Your life will change, whether you want it to, or not!

As written, the quote leaves out too much and is potentially misleading. Your life will change whether you choose to take a chance or not. Furthermore, there is a huge difference between risk and uncertainty. "Take a Chance" sounds as instructive as pulling a card from Community Chest. How about doing a little homework and putting the odds in your favor? It's not as if nothing will change until you blindly leap forward in ignorance and hope. Hope is not a method! I'd rather act deliberately in confidence and faith.

Lesson learned from 28 years of active duty in the US Army: Never complain without proposing a solution. Here is my suggestion. Your thoughts are welcome!

Step one: embrace change. All change, not just the change you hope for. Every living thing changes. Understand that not all change is deliberate or positive. In everyone's life, there will be times for congratulations and times for compassion. (Maybe we should have Five C's?) For better or worse, only the inanimate have seen the end of change.

As for chances, the Universe is full of God-authored randomness. Life is stochastic by design. There are relatively few processes with certain outcomes, but we can think in terms of probabilities. Good things happen to bad people. Innocent people are punished. Don't merely "Take a Chance." Do a little homework. Turn uncertainties into calculated risks. Have a goal in mind. Accept that having a goal does not guarantee attainment, but lacking a goal guarantees chaos and overwhelm.

In the face of uncertainty, and knowing that change is inevitable, the only thing left for us to do in the decisive moment is to choose. We make a choice whether we do anything or not! Yes, avoiding the decision is also a choice with consequences intended and unintended. In life, you cannot control anything except the choices you make in the face of relentless and inevitable and random change.

Therefore, I propose the 5 C's of Life:
  1. Change. Keep moving. Just Don't / Stop / Moving.
  2. Chance. Educate yourself continually about the options available and preserve options as long as possible
  3. Community. Maintain your social network and your support system. We are not meant to go through life alone
  4. Choice. When it's time to decide, trust yourself to make the best choices possible with the knowledge, skills, and abilities you have at your disposal
  5. Confidence. If you realize you made a mistake, or if the results don't turn out as expected, or if random stuff derails everything you worked for, don't lose faith or confidence. Instead, refer back to #1.

Better? My version is not as crisp as the 3 C's image, but it's more comprehensive. Maybe we can condense it into a more concise expression? Let'share a conversation in the comments section!

Image attribution: I first saw the 3 C's image on Facebook and accessed it here, on Nov 26, 2012. H/T: JEG