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Choice Points

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Choice Points

by Sydney Rice

Davies-Black © 2003, 177 pages, $20.95 (ISBN 0-89106-173-8).

A Unique Process for Navigating Your Career

People make promises to themselves all the time, from New Year’s resolutions to implementing new ideas read in books or heard in seminars. Then they drop the ball and never do what they promised themselves, either because they don’t remember, it takes too much time, it’s no fun, or they don’t practice the new behavior long enough for it to become a habit. To help people break this cycle, professional business coach Sydney Rice offers readers tools that can help them understand the patterns in their behaviors of which they are unaware, and create a career “that is truly worth getting up for each morning.”

Automatic Thinking

According to Rice, people are bound by their own “Results System,” which is the automatic thinking that helps them remember how they have done things in the past. Every time someone succeeds at a task, he or she files away information about how that success was achieved, and uses that same information the next time that task needs to be done. This works great until a change is required, Rice points out, and the person needs to do something differently. “In times requiring change, the automatic nature of your Results System stops you cold,” she writes. The same system that makes someone successful keeps them stuck.

Rice explains that our Results System fails us when we can’t clearly choose options and goals that would allow us to take appropriate action; regardless of the changes we try to make, the result still looks the same. We find a great new job, but it eventually starts to look like the old one. Rice writes that this is because we have not looked deeply at the hidden aspects of our lives, including our perceptions, beliefs, habits, expectations and assumptions. “We are often oblivious to the possibility that we might have choices in what we think, how we see and hear, and how we act or react,” she writes.

Although the invisible part of this Results System helps us get certain things done with little effort, it is not rational. The problem today, Rice explains, is that we need to be more in charge of our own life, rather than always be at the mercy of a system rooted in the past. The exercises she offers throughout Choice Points provide the tools to navigate more smoothly through life, helping readers forgo emotional reactions and embrace logic more consistently when faced with change or troublesome situations.

Rice writes that in a conference with earth science expert Gregg Braden, she learned about a paper that was written by a pioneering physicist from PrincetonUniversity, Hugh Everett III. In the paper, Everett gave the name “choice points” to the moments in time when the course of an event may be changed. Rice writes that there are points in our careers and lives when we know that if we are going to change, the time is now. Our choice points, she writes, “announce each emerging shift of focus and the opportunity to choose to step onto a new path — or not.”

Attitudes and Assumptions

Choice Points offers numerous exercises and processes that help readers take a concentrated look at the attitudes and assumptions that guide their decisions and influence their actions at choice points in their lives. Rice presents easy ways we can explore the origins of our hidden beliefs and examine the “legacy of identity” that we’ve inherited, by performing a personal inquiry into the origins of our thought processes. By pointing out the influences of family members and role models, Rice dissects the patterns we have that our “silent partners” have created throughout our lives. This process of unearthing the hidden influences in our lives works to reveal the habits, expectations and assumptions that subliminally guide the choices we make.

Changing the ways we are used to doing things is hard work. By providing ways to make readers conscious of unconscious acts and helping them create new ways to progress past stifling habits that keep them from taking risks and embracing change, Rice captures a valuable system of personal discovery that can improve careers and lives. Full of detailed examples and quotes that illustrate her insightful lessons, Choice Points provides a clear method for working through self-defeating beliefs and developing new skills that can be applied to any decision. ~

Why We Like ThIs Book

Although it presents a complete career coaching system in a helpful format that is readily accessible, Choice Points is more than a self-help book that targets work life. Beyond its easy-to-use layout and pertinent lessons and exercises, it also offers a guidebook to accepting change and reinventing oneself while presenting theories and concepts that can make the transition relatively painless. ~

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