One man tells of driving a long and lonely road, the last 65 miles of it unpaved, in order to watch Hopi Indian ceremonial dances in the state of Arizona. After the dances, he returned to his car only to find that it had a flat tire. He put on the spare and drove to the only service station on the Hopi reservation.
“Do you fix flats?” he inquired of the attendant.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“How much do you charge?” he asked.
With a twinkle in his eye, the man replied, “What difference does it make?”
This is what has been called a “Hobson’s choice.” A Hobson’s choice is a situation that forces a person to accept whatever is offered or go without.
According to Barbara Berliner (The Book of Answers), the phrase was inspired by sixteenth-century entrepreneur Thomas Hobson, who hired out horses in strict rotation at Cambridge University. There was no choosing by the customer – it was strictly Hobson’s choice.
But most of the time we really do have a choice, and the choice we make does make a difference. We may not always believe it. We may feel as if we have no choice, but almost always there is a choice in the matter. And when we realize that most of what we do we do by choice, then we are taking control of our own lives.
Someone challenged me to try an experiment that completely changed my perspective. “For the next seven days,” he said, “eliminate the words ‘I have to’ from your vocabulary and substitute the words ‘I choose to.’ Don’t say, ‘I have to work late tonight.’ Instead, say, ‘I choose to work late.’ When you choose to do it, you take control of your life. Instead of saying, ‘I have to stay home,’ try ‘I choose to stay home.’ The way you spend your time is your choice. You set the priorities. You are responsible. You have control.”
In just seven days I was no longer saying “I have to” and I felt better about my decisions. I learned that there is very little in this life I actually HAVE to do. You and I decide to do certain things because we believe that it will be for the best. When we eliminate “I have to” from our vocabularies, we take control.
Try it for a week (after all, it’s your choice) and you see what happens. I think you’ll see it’s a change for the better.
-- Steve Goodier