The hot summer weather reminds me that some of the best ways to cool off require ice. As one of six kids, my mom had her hands full. She would often pull-out freezer pops on hot summer days to get us to slow down. Freezer pops, if you recall, came in a variety of flavors—grape, berry, watermelon, lime, and cherry—we knew them as purple, blue, pink, green and red.
Mom would hold up the package and allow us to choose which one we wanted that day. I was always torn between choosing the color I loved or trying a new one. It was a choice that was all in my hands. I would debate only a few minutes because if I didn’t choose quickly, my siblings might take the one I wanted. Having the choice—even for something so simple—sticks in my mind.
If you are a parent, you probably know the power of choice when it comes to your toddler choosing their clothes for the day. They love having the power of choice.
Moving from childhood into adulthood, our choices become much more serious. Choosing which college to attend, choosing a major, a career path or a place to live—these are all adult choices we make while still in our youth. Not quite as simple as choosing a freezer pop flavor, yet I still feel that being given choices as a kid helped me navigate choices as I grew up.
I felt empowered by making the decision to stick to my favorite freezer pop (blue!) rather than choose something new (red!). When the siblings battled for the same flavor, my mother helped us navigate a compromise. It may not seem like much, but the ability to choose was crucial—and the ability to compromise with our sibs was equally important.
Some might think that the past 18 months took away many of our choices. I would argue that our choices became even more powerful. We made the best choices we could with the information we had at the time. We chose not only our attitude, but our path forward within the given circumstances. Each of us had our own set of choices to make. We did not have the choice of trying a new flavor—everything was new. But we did have a choice of how we approached that flavor (or circumstance).
Each day is a choice—how we show up for work, how we juggle work and children, how we respond to a difficult email—the power is in your hands. From the simplest tasks to the biggest challenges, we are always in choice.
How will you use your power today? Will you choose what you usually do or try something new? Whatever you choose, be bold and brave—embrace what you need in the moment, and you will be powerful in that choice.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.