I (Matt Palmer) am enjoying the book, “Heroic Living” by Chris Lowney. Chris is a former Jesuit turned investment banker who retired early to speak and write on living life with purpose and passion. In a chapter of his book entitled Make Great Choices, Chris discusses how living according to core values and priorities promotes great decision making. In this issue of WealthNotes, we share this excerpt from that same chapter that wonderfully illustrates this powerful lesson:
A single friend of mine – I’ll call her Martha – decided to adopt a newborn child. The decision transformed her finances, free time, lifestyle, the kinds of jobs she could pursue, and countless other things. When I asked about her decision process, Martha said, “A friend asked, in the course of conversation, whether I’d ever thought of adopting, and I thought, Hey that’s a great idea, and almost right away started looking into it.”
That’s it? One of the smartest women I know had blithely embarked on a momentous life choices as the result of a friend’s casual comment? Well, the adoption process was complicated. Of course, so Martha’s initial resolve was tested and confirmed by the sheer passage of time, the legal hurdles she had to clear, crises along the way, and the mounting expense of the process.
But as I reflected further, it became clear that the decision seemed to come easily only because Martha had long prepared for it. She knew her interests and circumstances. Her desire to care for a child hadn’t just popped into her head one morning. “I’ve always loved kids, and if life had been different I’d have ended up with more than this one (her adopted child).” She had long been involved in charities that educated young children.
Her conversation with a friend had crystallized into concrete opportunity a desire that had long percolated. As she put it, “I was probably mentally prepared…I do believe that a lot of the work of making the decision had been done subconsciously.”
I find this story so attractive; that a person is ready to make a decision because they know their priorities and the values important to them – and when the opportunity arises to express those priorities, those values, they are ready. Chris goes on to share the gospel parable of the servants who are entrusted with “talents,” a certain sum of money. One of the servants, fearful of losing what was given to him, buries his one talent in the ground and is later upbraided by the master for not investing it productively. The parable illustrates a great life lesson – in a world where choices can go wrong do we shrink from making any decision at all? When we refrain from making a choice we make a momentous choice – to waste that “talent” or opportunity, or whatever decision we are facing.
Part of living a great life is knowing what is important to you – the values you live by and the priorities you’ve set. Knowing those and expressing those in your decisions will enable you to make great decisions – all part of a great life. Today….identify the values and priorities you want to live by – and live by them; your great life will be the result.
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner and Co-founder