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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute - a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Obligation versus choice

As leaders, we are often called upon to implement and follow-through on decisions we don’t necessarily agree with.  When you find yourself in such a situation, it’s worth asking yourself whether you’re faced with an obligation or a choice.  And let’s be clear, they are two completely different state of affairs.

If it’s an obligation, then you don’t have a choice.  And there is very little value in continuing to believe it is a choice.  All that will happen is that you’ll get irritated and exasperated, and even worse, likely be viewed by others as a complainer and whiner.  Far better to recognize that it is an obligation, and give yourself permission to move forward and get it done.

If it’s a choice, then stop pretending that it is an obligation.  Stop complaining about what you “have” to do.  Own it.  Acknowledge that it is something you “choose” to do.  And give yourself permission to move forward and get it done.  Or not.  It is after all a choice.

So the next time you find yourself conveying unpleasant news to your staff, or leading an unplanned project, or stepping in to solve a problem, or working late, pause and ask yourself.  Is this an obligation or a choice?  Then, act accordingly.

I’d love your thoughts on this topic.  A group of senior leaders were frustrated at being asked to implement decisions they felt were not sufficiently collaborative.   It’s what got me thinking about obligation versus choice.  I’d love to hear your perspective.  Please comment directly on the blog at

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New and Notable Blog Posts Did You Know