It is the 4th of July. The sun is out, the weather balmy. A holiday from work for many of us. Naturally, our thoughts turn to independence. Here in the United States, it is Independence Day, when we celebrate the founding of our nation.
The birth of our republic involved a declaration of colonial independence from England and King George III. Taxation without representation was one of the catalysts. There were others. The history is well-known. No need to recite here.
What does it mean to really be “independent”? (Here we are reminded of Hermie and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer striking out on their own. “We’re IN-DE-PEND-ENT!”)
Independence might also be called “undependence” or “nondependence.” The underlying theme is standing on one’s own, not relying on others for certain things, being personally responsible. In many areas of our lives this is a good and healthy thing, a mark of maturity and emotional stability. Personal responsibility is not enjoying good press but it’s still the soundest approach to life there is.
Here are some healthy declarations of independence. You can add your own (please!):
I am responsible for my happiness in life or lack of it. I will not blame others if my life is not the one I’d hoped for and want.
I am responsible for my choices. After all, I made them. People and situations may have influenced me, but in almost, if not all, situations where I needed to make a choice, I did not have a gun to my head.
I can improve my lot in life. Ultimately, I am not dependent on others. If I don’t like my job, I can find another.
I don’t have to accept the biases of the broadcast and print media, of either the Left or the Right. I can—and must—do my own homework and think for myself.
I don’t need to be owned by the zeitgeist, with its irresponsibility and blame-shifting and constant need to be made much of. The story of Echo and Narcissus should be writ large again in our land. Were that the case, there would, at the least, be way less selfies plastered all over the net.
I can handle losing the approval, even of those closest to me, if I’m being true to my values, conscience and identity. Rejection, while unpleasant, is survivable.
Are you quick to take responsibility for your life—your choices, successes, failures? Or do you blame others (“you made me this way”)?
What areas of your life are passive—meaning you’re depending on someone else when you shouldn’t? Where have you been responsible and independent? If you take charge of your failures, you have the right to take credit for your successes.
The opening chapter of Jack Canfield’s fantastic book, The Success Principles, has this challenging title: “Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life.”
The chapter is worth the price of the book. Easy. It is slowly but surely changing my life. The concept will radically alter your destiny if you embrace it and practice it. And great mentors talk about this as the fundamental step that will reinvent your life. Jack Canfield. Stephen R. Covey. Brian Tracy. All attest the same.
Think about it. Aside from obvious things over which we have no control (planes crashing into our house, forms of disease, tornadoes, and such), we really have the marvelous opportunity and ability to craft a life.
To do this, you must become a good swimmer. Why? Because the current of our society flows against personal responsibility. It has strong undertows of victimization, blame-shifting and an unrealistic sense of entitlement. And it has kept leaders from emerging. You must swim against it. And you are well able to do it.
I heard Brian Tracy say today that assuming complete responsibility for our lives is the mark of adulthood. It means being a grown-up. As kids we long for that moment. Now, we can maximize all the possibilities.
Here are some challenges for the next year:
Every day embrace the reality that you have the God-given ability to better your life and circumstances in some way. Viktor Frankl learned this in Hitler’s death camps. He realized that the Nazis had no power whatsoever over his thinking and inner life. Unless he gave it to them.
Every day work to improve your skills of attention, concentration and laser-like focus for whatever task you happen to be doing. Be all there. Be fully in the moment. If it isn’t worth doing with all your being, is it worth doing at all? I did this last night as I walked for two miles in the bone-chilling cold air of winter. I embraced the frozen air and punishing wind. And became stronger because of it. I enjoyed it and improved my physical and mental life as a result.
Write down your goals. There’s something about putting pen to paper that sets a course in motion within you towards the fulfillment of those goals. Your subconscious mind engineers reasons and plans for achieving what you’ve set as a target. Dream it, write it and be very specific. And then work your plan.