The Pain of “Choice” – Leadership is a Choice #59

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 Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


There’s a buzzing in the air mixing comfortably with the unique smell of the ocean just feet away.

The choice I’m about to make is a permanent one. Two years’ prior I made a similar and equally permanent decision to get a single word that changed my life inked onto my body.

“Choice” lay very small and in cursive on my right side.

I find myself standing back on the island of Hawaii, in a small town that nestles in the North Shore of Oahu. I’m here to speak on building high-performing teams and personal choice.

So as I mentally prepare for the presentation a part of my mind is more focused on completing something I felt has been unfinished since the ink dried the first time.

The only other word equally as meaningful and full of power for me is “limitless”. There was no way I was going to choose the pain of a rib tattoo again so I placed this word on my forearm. The delicate cursive is small but mighty and catches the corner of my eye constantly.

Both tattoos serve as a constant reminder of what I believe most deeply in. I practice choice in all things. The good, the bad, and everything in between are direct reflections of my choices.

Practicing that, I have come to deeply believe that I am truly limitless in my capabilities. If I want it, consciously or not, watch out because I’ll get it. The harder lesson here is I’m limitlessly capable of success and of failure. The cool thing is the direction in which something goes is my choice.

Sitting there having someone place a needle into my skin all I could think other than “s**t this hurts” was “I am choosing this pain and the result will be worth it”.

As the artist cleaned up the word that now sits perfectly on my forearm and moved to fix my previous tattoo (it looked like “choicer”) I couldn’t help but think that this was such an amazing symbol for so much more.

Here on my body now lay two constant reminders, but more importantly, the process to get them reminds me that our choices are not always easy and fun. I had almost forgotten how painful it was when I first decided to live aware and at choice.

It feels so very selfish at first. To put myself and what I truly want first was one of the hardest challenges I have encountered. Choices don’t come free of consequences for others or for myself.

However, I want to make something crystal clear – when I make a choice for me and it affects another person, they also have a choice. They have the choice in how they will respond or react. Even more importantly, their choice in response is not a reflection of me and I am not responsible for it.

This is a very hard lesson to learn when shame was my comfort zone. I am not a reflection of their choice in response.

The hardest choice I ever made was right at the beginning of my new-found dedication. I chose to leave a situation that was completely unhealthy for me. I was miserable and spending more of my time in tears than not.

Through practicing choice, I realized that I did have control over my life and used that power to close one heavy, toxic door while opening a vast new set of possibilities.

My choice to close that door majorly affected another person, and their choice in how they responded was the hardest test I’ve ever taken.

Daily, hourly, I was fighting guilt, anger, and every emotion in between. The emotion and pain from their side was representing itself in nasty, mean, and below-the-line statements hurled in my direction.

The pain was intense and made worse by my naivety to the impact of my choice on another person.

I told myself constantly “I am doing what I want to do, what is best for me and this is my choice.”

Over and over I repeated this. Then I went to my mentor Bill repeatedly to help me work through the wreckage my choice had left.

I don’t want to paint a picture that living at choice means experiencing all this pain and putting others out. Your choice can include those already in your life. I am stating that not all your choices may be in line with everyone around you, and that naturally can result in resistance from their side.

Whether it’s choosing a new job, a bold career move you’ve wanted to do forever or even simply choosing to embrace practicing personal responsibility – not all choices come easy.

Looking back, it is so similar to getting these tattoos. The pain is real, it’s intense and at moments it feels like you can’t keep going—but then it’s over. Just like that. With a tattoo gun the pain stops when the gun does. With our internal battles the pain ends when we choose to end it, to let it go.

If you’re contemplating a life where the control is in your hands and you live consciously at choice (you are already living at choice you just may not be aware that you are) remember that pain may come. It may feel extremely selfish. Hell, people may even call you selfish numerous times—but in the greater picture the pain is short lived and even that is in your control.

Set yourself free, forgive yourself and embrace that your life is only yours to live. If you choose to include others that’s amazing and even more beautiful because you’re choosing them because you want them instead of obligating yourself.

My life isn’t a blessing, it isn’t luck—it’s a direct reflection of my choices and I can’t say it enough, I love the life I have chosen to create, tattoos and all!


Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of nonprofit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


Posted in Responsibility on 10/24/2016 01:35 am
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