Hi everybody, this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. This question’s pretty short and to-the-point.

Mike, do you believe we always have a choice?

I absolutely think we always have a choice. The answer is yes. We may not like the choices, the options, the consequences… but we always have a choice.

When I was in high school I went to a private college prep school. It was extraordinarily strict. And in orientation my freshman year we had a principal, he was really tough but a great guy, Mr. May. I loved Mr. May, he really kept me between the lines, even when I didn’t like it. He was going through the dress code, and one of the things in the dress code (this is Southern California) was you can’t wear jeans. Now in Southern California, you HAD to wear Levi 501 jeans… it was a LAW. But, he wouldn’t let us do it. So, somebody raised their hand and said “Why don’t we have a choice about what we wear?” And Mr. May said “Oh, you have a choice. I’m sorry, did I give you the impression that you don’t have a choice? The rule says you can’t wear jeans, but you CAN, if you choose to, you just can’t come to school here, and I’ll suspend you if you wear jeans.” And the kid goes “So… we can’t wear jeans.” Mr. May concluded that there is in fact a choice. You may not like the consequences of that choice, but you always have a choice. And I’ve always remembered that!

We all have choices. We have choices about how fast we drive, how we treat people, whether we rob a bank or not, whether we’re kind to our spouse, whether we’re loyal to our significant other. We all have choices, all day long. So yeah, you always have a choice.

It makes me insane when people say something like “Oh, well you don’t have a choice when it comes to paying taxes!” Yes, you do! There are a lot of people sitting in federal prison right now that took the choice not to pay their federal taxes, and then got the consequences. So please, don’t say “I didn’t have a choice.” Yeah, you did.

Recently I was talking to a lady who went through a very difficult time. She was a cancer survivor, single mom. And I said “When you got diagnosed with cancer, and you had kids you had to take care of, and you were single… how did you do it?” Listen to what she said, this is brilliant: “I chose to move forward and do things despite my circumstances.” She never said she didn’t have a choice, because she says “The minute I believed I didn’t have a choice was the minute I surrendered my power to something outside of me, and I wasn’t willing to do that.” What a great testimony to choice.

So yeah, you do have a choice. You might not like the options, and you might not like the consequences, but you always have a choice.

Take care.

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