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Two Choices

By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)


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     Jerry is the manager of a restaurant. He is always in a good
mood. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would always
reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

     Many of the waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he
changed jobs, so they could follow him around from restaurant to
restaurant.  Why?  Because Jerry was a natural motivator.  If an
employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there telling the
employee how to look on the positive of the situation.

     Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up
to Jerry and asked him: "I don't get it!  No one can be a positive
person all of the time.  How do you do it?"  Jerry replied, "Each
morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today.  I
can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad
mood.  I always choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad
happens, I can choose to be victim or I can choose to learn from
it.  I always choose to learn from it.  Every time someone comes to
me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can
point out the positive side of life.  I always choose the positive
side of life."

     "But it is not always that easy", I protested.

     "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you
cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how
you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your
mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. It's your choice
how you live your life."

     Several years later, I heard that Jerry accidentally did
something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business.
He left the back door of his restaurant open. In the morning, He
was robbed by three armed men.

     While Jerry was trying to open the safe box, his hand, shaking
from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked
and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the
hospital. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care,
Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets
still in his body.

     I saw Jerry about six months later. When I asked him how he
was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins.  Want to see
my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had
gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing
that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back
door", Jerry replied. "Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the
floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live
or could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren't you scared?" I
asked. Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great, they kept
telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into
the emergency room and I saw the expression on the faces of the
doctors and nurses I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's
a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

     "What did you do?" I asked.

     "Well there was a big nurse shouting questions at me," said
Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything." "Yes", I replied.
"The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my
reply. I took a deep breath. And yelled, 'bullets!' Over their
laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live, please operate on me
as If I am alive, not dead.'"

     Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also
because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day
you have the choice to either enjoy your life or to hate it. The
only thing that is truly yours - that no one can control or take
from you - is your attitude, so if you can take care of that,
everything else in life becomes much easier.  

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