making a choice: hard rock

How many times have you found yourself in that crushing space, faced with the dilemma of making a choice between two much-less-than-ideal alternatives? Having to choose HardRockthe lesser of two evils speaks for itself, yet difficult choices are often the most helpful in the long run. Why, then, are they generally looked upon as eagerly as invasive surgery?

But our days are filled with just such decisions. Here is one area of life for which acting dispassionately is inarguably the best course of action. Put the inescapable emotional component into perspective and move forward. Avoiding such decisions only makes them harder to make and accept.

Our little planet’s nonfiction pages abound with stories of people who had their aha moment, who made the jump, who lived through sacrifice, who climbed out from under the rock. Are the satisfactions not that much sweeter when they’re fought for, whatever the beat? Are they not magnified in direct proportion to the effort expended? In this past spring’s N.B.A. playoffs, for example, Jonathon Simmons—a second-year swingman for the San Antonio Spurs—played an outsized role in victory. As Scott Cacciola recently wrote in The New York Times:

Simmons traveled a long road to reach this phase of his career — “I’ve been waiting for this all my whole life,” he said — and he also, in many ways, typifies the Spurs’ commitment to scouting and development. He was not some ballyhooed star out of high school. He was undrafted. He even considered abandoning basketball before the Spurs plucked him out of relative obscurity. For most of his life, he has been a basketball vagabond, hopscotching between teams and lesser leagues. When one door closed, he forced another ajar. He has created his own opportunities, overcome his own mistakes. “Basketball,” Simmons said. “Just got to pound the rock, stay with it for 48 minutes.”

“Just got to pound the rock.” The relentless clock will surely not lend a hand. The inviolable calendar will certainly not cede its days. For better or worse, if the decision rests with you, consider it carefully, then act decisively. Fear of making a mistake has hamstrung countless people, yet those very mistakes will often mark the difference between complacency and urgency, between persistent struggle and enduring success.

So the next time you find yourself between two proverbial places, be ruthlessly logical and accept the resulting consequences with either celebration or tighter resolve. Whether for decisions proven right or wrong, how you deal with them is often far more telling than the potential reward or fallout.

Turn up the volume and go for it.