I was once admonished by a Business Coach for my frequent use of the word ‘can’t’ during one of our sessions. “Remove it from your vocabulary!”, I was told. “There is no cant. You simply choose to or choose not to.” Can’t had become the default answer to any uncomfortable challenge that was put my way. “I can’t take that opportunity; I don’t have the time.” “I just can’t afford to take that risk.” “In all honesty, I can’t be bothered.”
As a good student, I took the coach’s advice and tried to be more intentional about my use of language. By choosing not to take an opportunity, I was also choosing to do something else. The focus changed to what I was doing rather than what I wasn’t, and I began to allow myself a little more mercy in my decision making.
We all have choices. Some of us have more choices than others. Some have bare few. But each of us blessed with the cognitive ability to comprehend two or more possibilities, are forced to select a direction.
Some choices are harder than others. Over the next few days, the eyes of the world will be focussed on our friends in the US, as they make the choice between Trump or Biden, Conservative or Democrat, the Reds or the Blues. Two options, yet an infinite number of ramifications. Politics is a particularly difficult place to make choices. The world seems to have devolved into an ever more polarised and singular set of perspectives. The left and right are moving further apart than ever, with superficial and simplistic tribalism looking to replace moderation, nuance and mutual respect.
But of course, life is multicolour not monochrome. There are many shades in every argument and perspective, choose though we must.
I am encouraged to see that there have been more people register to vote in the US than ever before. 138 million Americans turned out to vote in 2016, this year it is expected that 150-160 million will be casting their ballots, the highest on record and notwithstanding the complications of Covid-19.
Despite all of the drama, speculation, and round the clock news coverage, on Tuesday 3rd of November, a new President will be chosen, elating some and devastating others. Choices come with consequences.
Winston Churchill famously said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the others. I do not expect that on Wednesday 4th, with their chosen leader selected, the American people will be able to relax into a unanimously enjoyed sense of peace and unity. Try though they must, to choose progress over disorder.
Every time somebody buys a bag of Blue Bear Coffee, they are choosing us over a thousand other coffee companies to give their money to. They are choosing to believe in our commitment to fight human traffickers and care for survivors and to ensure that nobody in our supply chain is being exploited. It’s my responsibility, therefore, to ensure that we are doing everything possible, at this company, to honour those who voted for us at the checkout.
And for any of our American friends still undecided as to where to place their votes come Tuesday, may I suggest you take a lead from one of the world’s finest politicians, when he said: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Written by Bryn Frere-Smith
Founder Blue Bear Coffee Co.