We gather here today in preparation to venture on a new journey: an adventure that will present us with many decisions. We have completed the first leg of our the task, and now it is time to shape and mold ourselves into that for which we choose. The choices we make today and in the future, will determine our destiny in life. Keep in mind, as we travel towards our destination, we are responsible for our choices; we are responsible for the consequences. But one thing will remain constant… we always have a choice.

Since childhood, we have been shaping ourselves through our choices, most often with help with our parents and teachers. Tomorrow begins a new chapter. We will begin using our new knowledge to gain more knowledge; to make decisions that will benefit not only us, but people around us. No matter how powerful our choices may be, there will never be a guaranteed outcome. We must relish in our choices and, like an infant, treat them with care. Choices allow us the luxury of weighing, not only for that which we feel is to our advantage, but the effect it may have on others. We will choose between greatness and mediocrity. We always have a choice.

More often than not, the more serious the decision, the greater the risk will be. Greatness seldom comes without some form of risk. Many people fear risks. Risk does not guarantee our intended goal, but it builds character. Risk does not guarantee we will succeed, but it builds integrity. Risk does not guarantee time, but it builds stamina and patience within us. If we are to strive for greatness, we must take risks. We always have a choice.

There will be times when difficulties will crop up and present us with road blocks. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. It is then we must make another decision: do we give up and turn around, or do we find an alternative route, and move forward? Difficulties help us to appreciate time, for there is a lack of it. Reaching our destination is a time measured feat which we should watch closely. Treat difficulties as speed bumps: warning signs to slow down. We always have a choice.

Perhaps one of the largest obstacles we will face along our journey for greatness is regret. Regret is a mechanism that sneaks up behind us when we least expect it. Regret attempts to make us vulnerable. Regret casts shadows of doubt in our decision. Regret is a plague that reeks havoc on our productivity, and our effectiveness. Regret haunts us and asks the question, “What if?”

What if I would have chosen the other road?

What if I would have said sorry?

What if I would have said yes?

What if I would have said I love you?

What if? What if? What if?

Turn your back and ignore doubt; turn your back and ignore regret. Continue to persevere and work diligently in pursuit of your destination; in pursuit of your choice.

To say, “I didn’t have a choice,” is surrendering to defeat. To say, “I didn’t have a choice,” is evading your free will. To say, “I didn’t have a choice,” is throwing in the towel before you even get started. We always have a choice.

Choice is life. We are presented with choices with every step; with every breath; with every blink of our eye. Choices can vanish just as quick as they came, presenting us with yet more choices. Choices are a right, deserved by every person. We must know when to act and when to step aside, we must take a risk and hope the next measure of choices are better worthy than the ones discarded. Everything is a choice. We always have a choice.  

We have a choice to acquire strength and the dissolve necessary for the achievement of success… or to lay back and be content with mediocrity.

We have a choice to recognize our potential and work diligently to propel our destiny… or to ignore the signs that are presented to us.

We have a choice to treat others with respect, kindness and generosity… or to turn on those who may provide us with the same.

We have a choice to share what little we have, allowing to bring happiness to another, no matter how temporary it may be… or to hide what we have, being selfish and ignorant of our fellow man.

There are times when choices may leave no alternatives: a choice to rise; a choice to fall; a choice to stand up; a choice to remain down, but we always have a choice.

Often times, making a choice takes no special effort, but it’s the result that will reveal its strength; the result will reveal patience; the result will reveal revelation; the result will reveal satisfaction… of a choice well made.

We might face decisions that have the power to alter our lives, or the lives of others. We might be faced with decisions that offer an unpleasant choice. Nevertheless, we always have a choice.

Choice determines greatness. True greatness is measured from what one builds, not from what one destroys. True greatness is measured by respect, not from fear. True greatness is planted, nurtured, and matured over time. True greatness leaves behind a resonate feeling after it leaves, reminding others that it once was, and still remains. We always have a choice.

Success is measured not from the size of your wallet, or the amount of material items, but is measured by the way you choose to live your life. Success can be fleeting, like a cloud blocking the sun. Success can be earned; success can be inherited; success is subjective, measured only by ones perception. Success is measured by the way we treat it. We always have a choice.

Our convictions, our character, and our honesty are constantly being tested. Cast fear aside; cast doubt aside; cast regret aside. Maintain integrity, for it is our level of integrity that determines our level of success. Allow integrity to guide your decisions; allow integrity to guide your actions; allow integrity to guide your thoughts. No matter what your decision, whether it be for greatness or mediocrity, I urge you; I challenge you… go the distance and be the very best you can be. And remember, always remember… you always have a choice.