Thursday, May 17, 2012

Challenges, Commitments, Choices and Consequences

There are four things that everyone faces during their lives. I call them the 4C’s. No one is going to get through this life without dealing with all four of these circumstances. Some people, primarily the people with the “glass half empty” attitude, may feel that these four words describing four types of circumstances, usually interacting with one another, are negative. However, that’s not a rule or even a good generalization. They may be and often are very positive. It’s all how you perceive them.

We begin facing challenges as children. They are typically small challenges, but they prepare us for the bigger challenges life will present when we become adults. There are commitments. Commitments are necessary in so many facets of our lives that we often don’t even realize we are making them. Life is all about choices. Most of us make so many choices each day that, we again, just make them, like commitments, automatically and, perhaps, unconsciously. And, finally, there are always consequences. Consequences are like Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that is, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Only sometimes the consequences may not be equal and are either more or less then the expected outcome.

So, how do the 4C’s relate to Living Free? The reality is that you can’t live free unless you address each of the 4C’s. First, there will be certain very real challenges to face when deciding to live free. Second, you’ll need to be committed to living free. You’re either going to live free or you’re not and the level of commitment you make will determine how free you’ll ultimately be able to live. Next, difficult choices must be made. If you want to be free and you’re in deep in debt, for example, you’re going to have to choose between several possible options to eliminate the debt. Finally, whatever choices you make will result in some kind of consequences. The outcome or the consequences should be positive if you faced the challenges, made the necessary commitments and made good choices.


Challenges can range from small life issues to life and death issues. As a young child a challenge might be learning to feed yourself or learning to become ambulatory. Both of these challenges will ultimately result in certain gains in freedom. Without facing the challenges of learning the skills of putting food in your mouth, you are completely dependent on someone else to do this for you. When that other person is not there, you will feel discomfort since you can’t resolve your hunger. The same applies to walking. As an infant you have no freedom. You must remain wherever you’re placed until someone else moves you. The challenge is to go from non-ambulatory to ambulatory. There are a lot of bumps and bruises between those two circumstances.

Childhood and teenagers face more significant challenges, again, based on perception. Some examples include learning to deal in a more competitive environment such as the classroom, athletics, creative pursuits, relationships, dealing with bullies, facing the first dating situation, facing an adult world and determining how you will prepare for that world through education, gaining skills and so on. As you face each of these circumstances, each challenge will try you more. And, of course, one day, you’ll leave high school, college, graduate school, professional training, perhaps several of these situations or others and become an adult.

Adult challenges become even more trying. How will you find a job, career, business or activity that suits you and meets your needs? When you meet someone and decide this is the person you want to enter into a lifetime relationship with, how will you know? What if you make a mistake? You live 30 miles from where you will earn your income and your conveyance breaks down. How will you get there and have your conveyance repaired at the same time. Your partner, spouse, significant other has a life threatening accident or contracts a life altering medical situation. How will you face the challenge?

All of these are only a small sampling of the plethora of challenges we have and will continue to face throughout our lives. There is no escaping them. You, I and everyone else WILL face many significant challenges.


Facing and dealing with any kind of challenge, whether you perceive it as a positive or a negative situation is going to require you to make commitments. The most frequent commitments you will make will be to yourself. You must be committed to yourself first before you make any commitment involving one or more other people. Some tangents of commitment can include loyalty and dedication. In order to be loyal and/or dedicated to another person, an employer, a cause, an organization or group or any other similar situation, you must first make a commitment.

One example is when you join a branch of the military in the U.S. you will sign a contract and swear under oath to defend your country and the U.S. Constitution no matter what you are asked to do, including the supreme sacrifice of your life. This is a REAL commitment. Here are some other examples. When you accept a job you make a commitment to the employer. When you get married you make a commitment. When you parent a child you make a commitment. When you buy a house and take out a mortgage or buy a car and take out a loan you make a commitment.

Typically, some kind of challenge is present to place you in a position to make most commitments. But, as I said, the primary commitments you will make will be to yourself. Are you committed to your own belief systems and resources to what you are setting out to do? Are committed to a career or profession? Are you committed to a married life? Are you committed to a family life? Are you committed to a healthy and fit life? If you haven’t made these commitments to yourself, first and foremost, you can’t commit to anyone or anything else.


Life is all about choices. Do you want a sandwich or a slice of pizza? Do you want this brand of toothpaste or that brand? Do you want short hair or long hair? Do you want to dress simply and functionally or do you want to be a fashion pate? These are simple choices in comparison to others.

An extreme example of a choice might be that you find yourself in a combat zone in a foxhole with five comrades, the enemy lobs a hand grenade into the foxhole right next to you. The exploding grenade would likely kill or severely injure all six occupants of the foxhole. Choice . . .! Do you jump on the grenade, sacrificing your life to save the lives of the five comrades or do you yell “Grenade!” and jump out of the foxhole hoping the other five get out in time?

Obviously, and thankfully, most of us will never be in the foxhole scenario. However, you make so many choices everyday, many of which are simply automatic, or perhaps, you’ll term them “reflex actions” like swerving to miss hitting an animal that appears in front of your car. Yet, that reflex action still required a split second choice.

Perhaps you have to choose to accept a new job offer or stay with the job you currently have. A number of years ago I knew a union member in the broadcast industry who had the responsibility of negotiating a new contract with the radio station he and his colleagues worked for. In order to present a contract to the station management that would be favorable to both bargaining parties he had to eliminate one union staff position. The negotiation was successful, the contract was signed and he chose to be the member of the staff to be eliminated.

The list of choices is endless and mostly they are taken for granted. When a bride and groom stand before the clergyman or the justice of the peace they are each given a choice to make. Do you take this man/woman to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife? The choice at that moment – and a choice can still be made is – yes, I do or no, I don’t. Will you have a huge, gala event for your wedding costing tens of thousands of dollars? Or, will you have a small intimate wedding and save the tens of thousands of dollars to use toward buying a home where you can invite all your friends and family for many gala events? Choices! Choices! Choices! Life is ALL about choices.


Finally, we come to the fourth C, consequences. No matter what the challenge is. No matter what commitments you make. No matter what you choose. There will be consequences. Some people automatically assume the word consequences means a negative result or outcome. However, the definition of the word consequence does not indicate positive or negative. It simply means the outcome or the results of a choice. Once again, it’s about perception. Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?

No one wants to face negative consequences. Robbing a bank involves challenges, commitments, choices and, if caught, accepting the consequences that are not very appealing to most people. That’s probably why most people who face the challenge of needing money aren’t willing to commit themselves to and choosing to rob a bank as a way of overcoming the challenge. On the other side of the coin, though, is the person who faces the challenge of needing money, makes a commitment to start a small business, does the research and makes the choices on how to obtain the resources to start the business. In this scenario, the consequence could very well be a positive outcome through a successful business venture.

Again, something you enter into after examining the challenge, making the appropriate commitments and making excellent choices, could still have a less then positive consequence or even a very negative consequence. You could have found your soul mate, yet, 5 or 10 years down the road, one or both of you may reach the conclusion that what seemed so right back then is far from the reality now. You did everything right to expand your business and yet, it failed. You brought your children up in a loving, caring family, gave them every opportunity to have a successful, happy life, even better then yours – and, yet, one of your offspring becomes an alcoholic, drug abuser, victim or perpetrator of domestic violence, a convicted felon or any number of other negative outcomes. Is that your fault? If you carry that burden on your shoulders you simply don’t have any comprehension of the 4C’s.

Living Free Through The 4C’s

Living Free isn’t about doing everything right or wrong. Living Free is about first defining what living free really means to you. Then when life presents you with a challenge you’ll face it through your self-defined living free filter. You will be committed to yourself and your living free life. You’ll make choices that will be consistent with your definition and commitment to living free. The consequences, while never 100% predictable, should mostly be consistent with your living free lifestyle.

Living Free is not as easy as people would like to believe it is. While by the definition of a republic and the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, we are essentially a free nation populated by free people, in essence that is only in a political sense and in reality, it’s limited freedom. Surely, in comparison to most other countries and political systems, we are afforded more political freedom then most. However, living free as a lifestyle is not related nor defined by a political model. Living Free is and always will be defined by our personal definition for our own lives, attitudes, state of mind and by how we react to and deal with the constant range of 4C’s circumstances that we’ll face everyday of our lives. 

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