Every waking minute of every day we make decisions. Every decision, no matter how small, can affect those around us. For instance; when you order your complicated coffee drink at your favorite coffee shop. Who is affected? The answer, when you think about it, is a lot of people! Interestingly, this simple decision can be both negative and positive to all involved.
Let’s look at the immediate surroundings
So we ordered a venti, ristretto, double-shot, 1/2 caff, mocha with 1/2 almond milk, 1/4 2%, 1/4 whole milk, no whip, two shots of raspberry and a touch of the cascara topping. It’s a handful, but delicious. The person taking the order has to enter all of the pertinent information into the system, grab the cup, write instructions on the cup for the barista and pass it on. All the while, you are hearing sighs from the well-dressed, yet frazzled-looking man behind you in line, who is alternating between glaring at you, the order taker, and a couple of teenage girls talking about how “totes adorbs” the latest heart-throb, boy-bander is. Potentially, you have slightly irritated the order taker. Clearly, the guy behind you is having a bad day already and is possibly in a hurry, so he’s upset that your order will slow him down. The teenage girls paid no attention to your order at all. The barista, on the other hand, loves a challenge and gleefully starts on your coffee. While the teenagers don’t seem to notice, you have had a negative effect on two people and a positive effect on the barista… And that’s just who is in the room with you.
Who else is affected?
That depends on how much effort you want to put into thinking about it. You could certainly demonstrate an effect on the manager, who will experience changes in stock levels and may need to adjust his inventory order. The coffee shop owner is benefiting from your order because of the up-charges associated with the additional customization. The various suppliers of goods that the coffee-shop buys from are affected in that every cup sold is an additional cup they will need to sell supplies to the store for. The coffee roasters have a job because of the folks buying coffee. What about the coffee plantations? Undoubtedly, the owners of those plantations are making profits from selling the coffee to the roasters… Is that all? Well… Not really. All of these companies have employees. They all have jobs because people like us like coffee. Their families may or may not benefit. The employees’ future may benefit in that the coffee-shop may have a tuition reimbursement program, allowing employees to further their education or career. What about the dark side? Could some of those coffee plantations employ children to work 16 hour days picking coffee beans? Sure could.
Yes. This is a little extreme, but it illustrates the potential of each of your decisions, every day. You likely make bigger decisions that more directly affect people around you as well. Deciding to call in sick, when really you only have a minor head-cold and a major desire for a day off, can negatively affect those you work with, as they need to pick up the additional work-load. Deciding that you really need that brand new BMW, even if the payment is double what you should spend and could limit savings. Maybe that decision will make it hard for you to help your children when it comes time for them to go to college. Maybe you cash in your 401k to pay for your kids’ college education and limit your own retirement funds.
Wrapping it up
Being mindful means that you think about the perspectives of those affected by your decisions and taking them into consideration before making the decision. In doing so, you should be weighing the pros and cons of each potential outcome before selecting the “right” solution. This is not to say that you should always put yourself second. Not at all. Absolutely think of your own needs first. But if you can, you should ensure that the weight of the effects left behind by your decision, tip the scales on the positive side, to all involved, more than the negative.
It is easy to think about what is positive for you. But in the end, it is a selfish, small-minded stance if that is your only consideration. Thinking about your impact to those around you is thinking bigger than yourself.
I challenge you… Think Big!