The Danger of Priorities

One of my men was struggling with making a decision. His decision was about whether he was going to continue with something he found valuable, which was costing him something else he found valuable. He was trying to weigh out which was a higher priority, so he could give up the lower priority. The first things I have to point out are all the great things he was doing.


First, he was thinking sanely about it. Ok, most of us think we're not crazy, but we often drive ourselves crazy. It's situations like these, where we get frustrated and annoyed by having to give up something we really want. "Life's not fair!" "Why do I have to do this?" "You can't make me!" And all the other crazy-making thoughts about the situation we have. The first step was to put away all those frustrations and emotions and think about what he was really interested in.

Second, he was talking to someone about it. It's amazing how many of these life decisions we make by ourselves without ever talking to another living soul about them. We've all done it. It seems like we've covered all the bases and it makes perfectly good sense, then we run it by another person, and they say something which makes all our logic fall apart. It's part of the nature of being human. Our thought processes are shaped by our emotions, by our hidden agendas, by those things we're trying to avoid, etc. We don't even know about it at the time. Fortunately, emotions, hidden agendas and avoidances tend to be different for different people. So, they will not likely fall into the trap you're falling into, and they'll be able to point out your logic flaws before any action is taken. Well, that would mean you need to talk with someone before taking that action, and fortunately he did.

Next, he was taking what he really wanted into account. He was honestly looking at his life and evaluating which priority was higher - not just for the short-term, but for the long-term. It seems like this is obvious, but many of the decisions we make on a daily basis are more about trying to fix something that's wrong. Either trying to avoid looking bad because we said we would do it, or trying to get someone's approval because they expect us to. Both of these paths lead us away from what we're really interested in and in most cases, don't fix the problem we were trying to fix. Do we really look good when we avoid looking bad? Or, do we really feel good about ourselves when others approve? Mostly not. It's a trap that we keep playing into, and a carrot which is just beyond our reach. When we can put aside that need to be liked or approved of, we can have a shot at getting what we really want in life.

Ok, now onto the danger. You see, this all started with the idea that something of value was costing him something else of value. What if that wasn't the thing which was causing the cost? Let's simplify this. Let's say you really want to take a ski trip, but also want to take a training course. I like this example (especially if it's one of our courses), but fill in whatever works for you. If you can't afford both, you find yourself having to decide between them. Which do I want more? Which will serve me better? Etc. If you're lucky, you at least make a sane decision, as outlined above.

But, what about becoming someone capable of having both? That's the option we so rarely consider. Whether it's making more money, or becoming more efficient with time, or being more persuasive with people - there's usually an option which makes it possible to have both - it just requires stretching. You'd have to grow as a person a little. When you prioritize one commitment over the other, it starts with the assumption that you are fixed, and incapable of growth and development. That's the danger. It keeps you safe and small, and incapable of growing - but more importantly - you miss out on that commitment which you really want. That's also the value of training and developing yourself - as it allows you to have multiple high priorities commitments all happen in your life together.

Now, I'm not saying you'll always be able to grow fast enough to have everything you want when you want it, but without always considering growth as an option, you'll give up what you really want without a fight. As an added benefit, you may even like who you become in the process.

Gary Menezes, 2018-12-21 | Posted in General