By J. Mark Davis (President, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation) | We have just concluded the initial application phase for the 2012-13 Coca-Cola Scholars Program. More than 110,000 high school seniors chose to submit applications for our scholarship award. It is very gratifying to know that so many students want to be Coca-Cola Scholars, but it is very humbling to realize that we say no to virtually every student who applies. The upcoming selections for the 25th class of Coca-Cola Scholars will be difficult. Our choices have impacts on thousands of students, but each of us also makes daily choices that have major and minor impacts.
Election Day 2012 has also just passed and we have made choices at the national, state and local levels. This process is a powerful example of the choices we make in life. Often we don’t have all the information we need or we ignore key data because it doesn’t fit our point of view in the decision process. Our choices run the gamut from the trivial to life-changing. We make thousands of choices every day. In most instances our choices have become rote routines, not even rising to the level of consciousness. But there are times when we make key decisions that require thought, consideration and judgment.
Many of our decisions on the choices we face are supposedly made ‘with the heart or a gut feeling or instinct’. Perhaps this is the case in some instances, but the big choices we face require serious consideration – often because of the impact it has on our families, our financial situation or our futures in general.
During my recent backpacking trip through the Southwest, I was reminded daily of the big and little decisions we make each day. What route should I take and where should I make camp for the night- were big questions. What to have for dinner was not a big decision – it was always the same. But that menu was a big decision I made in planning the trip.
Sometimes our decisions don’t work out as we had planned. We suffer from the resulting self-doubt and agonize over the ‘what-ifs’. Whenever I face those moments, whether I am deep in the backcountry or in my office, I am always reminded of the Led Zeppelin lyric –
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on”
Do you always make the right choice? I certainly haven’t made perfect decisions in my choices. But fortunately my big decisions that require thoughtful judgment have proved to be successful. Asking my wife to marry me, leaving public accounting to work for a non-profit, hiring an awesome team committed to our vision, and realizing the importance of the great outdoors to my sanity have all proved to be good decisions – or maybe I was just lucky!