I saw a post on social media the other day that said, “Your life is a result of your choices. If you don’t like your life, it’s time to make some better choices.” I liked the comment because, well, I like the comment. I believe there is power in taking responsibility for everything.
There was some pushback on this post for two reasons. First, arguing is what we do. It’s our culture’s number one pastime. No matter what position you take, regardless of how harmless, someone will argue with you. (If you are thinking “no they won’t”…thank you).
The second reason people struggle with this simple idea is they believe that so much of life is not up to them. “Sometimes bad things just happen,” they would argue. “And there is nothing you can do about that.” That was essentially the point of the person commenting on this post.
While I understand that perspective, I don’t find it helpful.
To me, this idea that “bad things happen so we are not in control” is playing the role of the victim. It’s throwing up your hands and saying “the world is against me…so what are you gonna do?”
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my father one time when I was a teenager. I was lamenting some injustice in the world and how it was out of my control. It wasn’t fair and there was nothing I could do about it.
My dad looked at me and said “You can’t always control what happens to you in life. You can, however, control how you react. There is power in that.”
Then he smiled and said, “Wow! That was deep! Someone should write that shit down!” We all laughed…and I wrote it down on a napkin at the table. That lesson has stuck with me for years.
When something goes wrong in an area of my life, it’s my fault. When the business at Hasseman Marketing is not going as well as I would like, it’s my fault. Some people might look at that as being a martyr but I don’t think so at all. I believe it’s empowering. It’s empowering to understand that I have the ability to make a difference. In every situation, there is something I could have done…and something I can do to learn and grow and impact my own future.
That is not defeatist thinking. It’s the opposite.
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin talk about this in the wonderful book “Extreme Ownership.” This powerful book on leadership outlines what can happen when, we as leaders, assume ownership for everything. There is no one else to blame. It’s not about “they.” It’s about “we.” And that mentality of taking responsibility is very empowering.
So the next time you are looking for someone to blame for something that is not going right in your life, look for a mirror. Spend some time thinking about what you can do to make it better. You might be surprised by what you find.
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