Fundamental Choice

Authentic engagement usually increases when we make a fundamental choice.  The term fundamental choice comes from the work of Robert Fritz (1989).  He tells us that a fundamental choice has to do with our state of being or our basic life orientation.  It is a choice to live in a certain way.  It is different from what he calls primary and secondary choices.  Primary choices are about specific results.

There are many people who have chosen the religious path (primary choice), without making the fundamental choice to live in accordance with their highest spiritual truths.  There are many people who have chosen to be married (primary choice), without making the fundamental choice to live from within a committed relationship…Fundamental choices are not subject to changes in internal or external circumstances.  If you make the fundamental choice to be true to yourself, then you will act in ways that are true to yourself whether you feel inspired or depressed, whether you feel fulfilled or frustrated, whether you are at home, at work, with your friends, or with your enemies…When you make a fundamental choice, convenience and comfort are not ever at issue, for you always take action based on what is consistent with your fundamental choice [Fritz, 1989, p.193].”

To make a fundamental choice is to enter the state of authentic engagement.  To be authentic is to be genuine, actual, legitimate, true, real, pure, and uncorrupted.  We become authentic by being true to what is highest in us.  We do this by committing to live by principle to do what is right even when it is not pleasurable.  In the normal state, we flee pain and pursue pleasure.  It is unnatural to do otherwise.  Yet when we make fundamental commitments, we are choosing to be unnatural.  We choose, if our commitment requires it, to embrace pain and sacrifice pleasure.  We become positive deviants, extraordinary people.

Building the Bridge as you Walk on It, p. 117-118

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2 thoughts on “Fundamental Choice

  1. This passage echoes the words of other great thinkers and business leaders who address matters of authenticity and human flourishing, including Martin Seligman, Stephen Covey, and Dale Carnegie. Fundamental choice is something that should be taught in elementary schools; long before professional aspirations are on the radar. Is it possible to raise a generation of children who are contemplative enough to study the virtues and values that would enable them to make fundamental choices? Are we too focussed on our external lives at the expense of our internal lives? The growing interest in meditation would suggest a slow, but steady acknowledgement that we need to shift our priorities. At the same time, we live in a culture that avoids hardship and discomfort rather than one which empowers us to develop the internal resources to live from a place of fundamental purpose and engagement. We want to be resilient without taking any hard knocks. We don’t embrace the opportunity to lean into pain and hardship when life inevitably requires it of us. I’m hopeful books like this will contribute towards a cultural shift that would place the cultivation of character as an authentic measure of fundamental fulfillment.

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