Are you making choices that matter?

by  Chery Gegelman  |  Workplace Issues

I grew up in rural North Dakota and would occasionally see movies about events that are a part of our history but were not a part of my reality:  Movies about the civil rights movement or the Holocaust.   Watching those movies would instantly trigger my adrenalin, raise my heart-rate and make every cell in my 5’2 body feel as courageous as David taking on Goliath.   In those moments, I felt invincible and ready to kick some bully-butt!

…At least until a few months ago, when I stumbled across three questions in one of Max Lucado’s books that punched me in the gut so hard it was difficult to breathe. Three questions were so convicting that I had to stop reading.  Three questions that over-time have caused me to think past my image of who I think I am and deeply challenged me to examine my courage and my commitment to others:

  1. Had you been in Germany in WWII, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?   
  2. Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?  
  3. When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day when 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

In the months that have followed:

  • I’ve remembered several situations where I have stood up for those that were being treated unfairly.
  • I’ve remembered other situations and wondered if I should have stood firm sooner and held-ground longer.
  • I’ve thought through times my message was right but my delivery could have been much better.
  • And I’ve developed a new appreciation for people that had the courage and the character to stand up for others in circumstances that were far more extreme than anything I have ever experienced.

I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to people who are taking a stand and making a difference as they encounter needs in their daily lives:

  • One dear friend has a son being bullied at school and is courageously using her blog to influence parents and teachers to intervene for others that are being victimized.
  • Another friend shared a nephew’s article about the Holocaust and urged us to remember that event and learn from it.
  • The church my husband and I are attending a recently formed group to help stop human trafficking.

Ultimately those three questions have caused me to see issues with fresh eyes and realize how purposeful we must be if we are going to make a difference for others.

  • Repeatedly the need for character-based leaders in the workplace is emphasized in articles, seminars, networking events and in conversations.
  • And after a recent shooting in our community re-opened some historical wounds, many of us were reminded that we need to openly discuss racism, to seek first to understand and to work together for healing.

With all of that said, it is interesting to me that on May 4th over 85,000 people in over 17 countries will be connected via simulcast for a  global leadership event to discuss the importance of making CHOICES THAT MATTER.  I am IN AWE that although that theme was chosen months ago, it is exactly what our families, our communities, our countries and our world desperately need us to be intentional about TODAY.  Are we engaged and courageously challenging our own comfort zones for the good of those around us or are we sitting comfortably and watching the world go by?

  • If you have the opportunity to participate in that event please do.
  • If however, that is not an option,  then take a moment and think about those three questions.  Do they resonate with you?  Then please comment on this post and share them.
  • And lastly ask yourself:  Am I making choices that matter? And if not, what are you willing to do to change that?


Thoughts in this post were inspired by:   Mary Beth VonDissen, Erin Schreyer, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Max Lucado and the Members and Staff at The Kirk of The Hills Tulsa.

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By chery-gegelman
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned to lead extensive system-wide changes from the middle. Today she is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two books. Her passion is bringing help and understanding to people and organizations that are leading through change to growth.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jon Mertz  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Chery, I great question to answer every day – Am I making choices that matter? This simply powerful question will help keep us centered in our actions. By the way, I didn’t realize you grew up in North Dakota… I grew up in South Dakota. These are wonderful places to grow up as they keep you grounded in some of the value and principles you highlight. Thanks again! Jon

Chery Gegelman  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply


South Dakota – no wonder I relate to all of your posts… We speak the same language! Thanks for the comment! Have a great night!

Jesse Stoner  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply

I really appreciate your post, Chery. These are great questions and you illuminate them quite well. Ultimately they lead me to some more fundamental questions: “What do you stand for?” and “When are you willing to take a stand?” Much to contemplate. Thank you!

Chery Gegelman  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply


Thank you for the inspiration, the comment and for sharing your thoughts. You’re right it is about what we stand for! …And if we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything!

Have a great night my friend!

Collective Responsibility  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Nice post, and one that I think of often as I contemplate the lines that “we” are willing to defend in our communities, economies, and environment. for me, what I have found is that the more tangible the issue or decision, the more likely one will be to act.


Chery Gegelman  |  28 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I agree that when an issue is impacting people right in front if you it is much easier to make the choice to get involved. At the same time many of those choices require tremendous courage and personal sacrifice. I am so thankful for the people in our history that have stood-firm and held-ground for others.

Tammy Gill  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Love Max Lucado and love your comments regarding choices that matter. We are committed to leading change in people’s lives that brings transformation! Asking these questions forces us to acknowledge that we have a choice and we need to own the choices we make. Thanks for sharing these three questions and for encouraging us to search our own hearts as we make choices that matter every day!

Chery Gegelman  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I agree Max is one of my favorites too! Hope you have a great weekend!


Page Cole  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Fantastic post Chery! We have to be challenged like this on a regular basis to not only make our lives count for something, but to remind us that most of the time those kinds of stands or efforts come at a price. As character based leaders, we need to be in the front of the line making those sacrifices & paying the price to make our world a better place. I certainly don’t claim to have arrived as a character based leader… far from it! My life is a lot like most people… lots of good intentions, some really, really big screw ups, and a heart that wants to get back up after those mistakes and start again… down the right road.

You reminded me today that there are incredible “choices that matter” in life, and that I’m accountable to the world I live in now, and the world that is to come for how I respond to those choices. Great challenge for all of us!

Chery Gegelman  |  26 Apr 2012  |  Reply


Thank you so much for the feedback. I totally relate to your thoughts about good intentions and screw ups and a heart that wants to get back up and start again!

Have a great night!

Fernando Prato  |  27 Apr 2012  |  Reply

I think it is a great article that challenges everybody to make a choice, to make a difference that matters. We don’t have to be super heroes fighting big battles, but we all have a choice to make a difference -on a daily basis- no only in our surroundings, but even farther. The question we should ask ourselves is: Would I say yes? Would I do it? or simply ignore it because “it doesn’t” affect me…

Chery Gegelman  |  28 Apr 2012  |  Reply


I love your questions: Would I say yes? Would I do it? Or simply ignore it because “it doesn’t” affect me…

You are absolutely right, we don’t need to be super heroes to make a difference. Your comment makes me wonder: What if…Everyone was issued a cape and encouraged to make a bigger difference…? Would we see ourselves differently? Would we realize change starts with ONE person…?

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis

Have a great day Fernando!

Garry Trammell  |  28 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Wonderful Chery! When we become preoccupied with the seeming injustices done to ourselves, we forget that there are literally millions who would trade places with us in an instant.
Regardless of our current situation, even if it may appear hopeless, may we take the time today to encourage someone else, or write that check to the needy, serve in the soup kitchen, lift up the one who’s been broken, or whatever else comes along our way, where we can be of help to someone else.
For that is what we were called to do…with courage, and love. Eternity beckons.

Chery Gegelman  |  28 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment Garry! You are so right – when we accept the lie that life is about us as individuals, we do forget that there are others that need a small portion of what we have just to survive.

Have a great weekend!

Arthur Greeno  |  28 Apr 2012  |  Reply

Wow!! You are so right!! What is amazing is how when we choose to make a difference, its about one choice at a time. So many think because its too big, there is no point in starting. Funny thing for me is that it describes most of my friends. (I guess thats why I am here to push them off the cliff.) If you look at most things, they started small, and as we master it, it became bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER! Eventually, its this huge thing which to be honest, is easier to run than the small things. Truett Cathy started by selling bottles of coke, and then one small restaurant, then company, and now a company that invests millions to inspire so many people with this leadercast!! (if I went back in time and told him how much he is investing in the leadercast while he was running his the Dwarf Grill (his first restaurant), I am positive he would have told me to not worry about being BIG, worry about being the best, then he would have told me to quit standing around and help!)

Chery Gegelman  |  29 Apr 2012  |  Reply


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for emphasizing that making a difference starts with small choices add up over time. Your example of Truett was perfect from selling Coke to Sponsoring LEADERcast! Wow!

By the way I finished reading your book DYSFUNCTIONAL INSPIRATION last night. I love that you are telling your story to be a voice of hope and encouragement to others! What a gift to the lives you touch!

Have a great afternoon!

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