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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

The Power of Your Choices in 2014

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Happy New Year everyone! After taking a couple of weeks to relax, reflect and renew, I’m looking forward to the new year. I’m thinking a lot about the power our choices have to shape the course of the next 12 months.

I started considering the power of choice a couple of days ago when I saw Google’s Zeitgeist 2013 video, which is a recap of the year just ended. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. Google’s 2012 year end video was fantastic, and I felt like this year’s didn’t capture the zeitgeist quite so well.

So I went back and watched the 2012 video again. It was breathtaking to notice how much had changed during 2013 around many of the events that defined 2012. There are dramatic examples of how personal choices can change the course of history in just 12 months.

One of the first images in the 2012 video was the South African paralympian, the “bladerunner” Oscar Pistorius, who was the first athlete with disabilities to compete in Olympic track and field. Today, he’s on trial for murdering his girlfriend.

In the 2012 video, there were scenes of the U.S. presidential debates and the celebration that accompanied the re-election of President Obama. Today, the president is trying to bounce back from the lowest approval ratings of his presidency because millions of people had their insurance policies canceled after he repeatedly chose to say, “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.”

The 2012 video captured the drama of the first ever democratic election for the presidency of Egypt. Today, that president is in jail after he chose to overplay his hand and was removed from office by the Egyptian army in what most people would call a coup.

These are just three examples of the kind of dramatic change that can occur in a year or less based on the power of personal choice.

On a more positive note, there’s the continuing story of the daredevil Felix Baumgartner who made the unforgettable leap to earth in 2012 from a weather balloon hovering at 128,000 feet above the Earth. The 2012 Google video opens and closes with Baumgartner’s leap. In this interview with CNN.com, Baumgartner explains the series of choices and decisions he made during the five years of planning he and his team put into the jump. Today, Baumgartner has retired from jumping and is flying rescue helicopters.

As we all move forward into a new year, I’ll close with a quote I’ve heard a few times in the past year. It’s been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lao Tzu and Gandhi. As it turns out, the most likely source is the founder of the Bi-Lo supermarket company, the late Frank Outlaw. No matter who said or wrote it first, it’s wise counsel for all of us as we begin to make the choices that will shape 2014:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

What choices do you intend to make to shape the course of your life and work in 2014? Share your intentions in the comments (nothing like a public declaration to keep you focused!).

(Image via alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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