From daily habits to business decisions, how to choose the right fork in any road

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Every fork in the road offers a choice. Do we turn right? Left? Hit the breakdown lane with indecision? Applying that metaphor to choices made in our lives and businesses, a bigger question arises: Do we leave it to fate or destiny? They sound like similar concepts, but fate is usually defined as the development of events beyond a person’s control, with destiny as events that will happen in the future and that are at least in part under an individual’s control to shape.

Some people might call it karma, but according to scripture, we reap what we sow. Sow good things into our world, and we’ll reap good things in return. Sow discontent, disgust and bitterness, we can expect to reap the same. In positive psychology we call this the law of attraction, and I am certain that many of you have seen examples of this.

We all know that one person who never seems to have anything positive to say about their life. They are constantly in pain, debt, alone, misunderstood, taken advantage of. These people never seem to rise above the standard they have set for themselves and constantly blame others for their problems. Another reason for this is stated in scripture. The spoken word is a very powerful force, and what we speak into existence will take root in our hearts or the hearts of those around us (we have seen this when we say hurtful things we cannot take back).

This mindset is a choice. The choices we make determine our fate. In choosing to take the right fork, say you were involved in an accident or delayed by a traffic backup, had you chosen the left fork, you could have arrived safely and on time. Making the most productive choice (that left fork) by anticipating an outcome, thus, is a goal we can all strive for -- if you can do that as much as possible, fate is not out of your control at all. And your destiny will more closely resemble what you want it to be.

Several entities within trucking have illustrated the notion that operators who constantly switch carriers never seem to rise above an expected standard, but those who ride out the storms and stay consistent do seem to beat the averages in income and benefits over the longer term. Psychology experts have shown that job satisfaction and stability equate to work-life balance. The more stable you are, the happier you are with present work circumstances, the more those qualities filter into your personal relationships and help balance your life.

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If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. 

If you struggle to find that balance, consider the company you keep. Bad company corrupts, and small expectations breed small results. This has been proven and lived by some of our most forward-thinking and successful people throughout American history, from Ben Franklin to Thomas Edison and many others. Franklin and Edison believed that your five closest friends will either drive you or anchor you -- the choice is yours.

As stated, too, the spoken word is a powerful force. If you can alter how you speak about your situation, it stands to reason you can alter the choices you make toward better outcomes. I am not saying to "fake it until you make it." as the saying goes. It helps if you actually believe what you’re saying, but until that happens just practice it. My pastor teaches that we are “blessed and highly favored,” but if you struggle with believing that just keep stating it until you do.

This is an easy habit to get into by answering a simple and often asked question: How are you? OK, good, fine. I’ve focused on getting beyond those knee-jerk responses in favor of answering them with this truth. How are you? I am blessed and highly favored.

I use it all the time, not to help me believe it but because I know it to be a fact. It’s truly altered my mindset and, more often than not, I hope, brought a little joy to others. You would be surprised by how many smiles and comments I have gotten by using this simple statement. In fact, I have seen it alter attitudes on the spot. I cannot count how many times I have walked up to a receiving window and instinctively knew the person behind that window to be having a bad day. You know the look -- the guy really doesn’t want to be bothered.

Asking how they are, though, inevitably results in them asking you. My response has lit up countless faces, and changed attitudes in small but significant ways. I can’t be certain of it, but I’d wager it’s helped me get in and out of places faster, which has altered my fate and destiny.

Maybe my choice put me back on the road a half hour earlier than I might have otherwise been, ahead of the accident that would have held me up or worse. I don’t know, but this I do know: my own outlook is shaped by the interaction, and I retain a positive outlook. So the next time you are thinking about how you would like your day to go, think about the choices you are going to make, be in control of your fate and alter your destiny toward the one you desire.  

[Related: On taking control of your trucking business' future: Why oh why are we so afraid of those who ask why?]

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