The story is told of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and early innovator in the automobile industry.  He developed an assembly line approach to building cars and when he rolled out his first mass produced line of vehicles it changed the way people bought cars.  Because he created a cost efficient way of building cars the prices were lower but understandably the options were less.  But Ford was adamant about giving people some choices in their purchase.  His famous line was “you can have any colour you want as long as it’s black”.

People love to have  choices, and having no choices can be incredibly stultifying.  I have never been imprisoned but have visited jails enough over the years to understand that the hardest part of being locked up for years isn’t  physical, it’s mental and emotional.  You lose your freedom.  You are in prison.

There are lots of kinds of prison besides literal.  There is the prison of debt.  There is the prison of a poor abusive relationship.  There is the prison of poor health.  Having no choices in life s@#ks big time.

But at the same time, is there a ditch on the other side of the road which can also be debilitating?  Can you have too many choices that you actually freeze up and miss the path forward?

My wife and I were out to dinner last week.  The restaurant had a stunning menu.  It was three folds wide with pictures of some amazing dishes available to the customers.  If the food tasted half as good as it looked I knew we were in for a delight.  My wife just froze up—she couldn’t decide.  Twice the server came by and left “giving us more time”.   “I don’t know what I want and it all looks so good”.

On a grander scale I work with a generation of 20 somethings. Amazing people.  Good education, good brains, good upbringings, good health, good futures.  The world is there for them.  But they struggle with the choices in front of them.  A job is just a job not a career because something better might come up and I don’t want to miss it.  A relationship is good…but to make a long term commitment seems unwise because, “you never know…”.  Hobbies and pursuits are dropped because “that was last year’s passion”.   And so, they live with this tension.  I wish it were expectancy and optimism but I think there is some low grade anxiety in there.

So many choices that they can’t make any because “I might miss out”.

What do you think?

Ask me about my “kick the can approach to life” and I’ll put it out in a blog sometime.