Take COMPLETE Responsibility For Your Life

responsibilityThe 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.

 
100% responsibility.

 
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 once say 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 coming days:

 
• 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.

 
This is your moment. Hold nothing back.

 
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Buck-Passing or Buck-Stop?

President Harry S Truman was famous for many things.  A plain-spoken man.  He made the terribly  weighty decision to drop two nuclear bombs on the Empire of Japan, no doubt hastening the end of World War II.

But he is perhaps best known by a little sign he kept on his desk (see image above).  He was the chief executive officer of the United States and Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces.  He made choices that affected history and lives.

“The buck stops here.”

Buck-passing is currently in vogue now.  Has been for some time.  But it has never served anyone who has participated in it.  President Truman used this maxim to communicate one thing: I am ultimately responsible. See the picture.

Some months back, I heard someone say, “The moment in which you grow up is when you take complete responsibility for your life.”

Complete responsibility.

I’ve been chewing on this lately and having to eat crow as a side dish.  I’ve done my share of buck-passing, blame-shifting and the like.  What I have found, however, is that as I have embraced full responsibility for my life—where things went bad, where I fell short of some objective, where life ended up being the pits—I feel strangely liberated.  Like a young man who moves out on his own for the first time and assumes the responsibility that had been his parents’.

As a leader, you will grow rapidly as you wrestle with this challenge and not permit yourself to be seduced by the siren song of the culture.  No more will you say “I can’t” about a thing when you know inside that you can.  It will just cost more.  Longer work.  More exercise.  Loss of a friendship because you tell the truth in love.

  • I am responsible for being out of shape.  I chose to eat poorly and not exercise.  Now I’m trying to eat better and am exercising and weight training regularly.
  • I am responsible for my career advancement or lack of.  I chose to stay in an unfulfilling job when the time came to go.  I chose not to pound the pavement and send out resumés.  I chose not to further my education in one way or another.  Now, I’m getting my mojo back, furthering my learning, polishing my skills and gifts.  On my own time.  Without monetary pay.  There’s more than one form of remuneration, after all.
  • I am responsible for inferior relationships.  I chose not to cultivate friendships or to repair those that have taken a beating in the rough and tumble of life.  Now, I’m spending more time with people—meeting new friends, mentoring others and staying in touch with old friends.

Challenge:  Take a long and honest look at your life and see if there’s a time you ducked responsibility.  Evaluate it.  And own it.  Then craft a plan to do things differently the next time you are thus challenged. You will feel empowered immediately.

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A Super Bowl Champ On Life

“Blame no one. Expect Nothing. Do Something.” (Bill Parcells)

I snagged this quote this morning as I visited one of my favorite blogs.  It sums up an awful lot.  And, as someone remarked quoting it, the Coach is not saying, “Ah, suck it up.  Don’t be a wuss.”  He’s pointing the way to excellence.   He’s won a couple of Super Bowl rings. Obviously he has gotten results from such a perspective.  You will too.

“Blame No One”

Take responsibility—all of it—for your life.  Don’t buy into the lie that you can’t do something meaningful and profitable because…your family was a mess…the economy is bad…you’re too old…you’re too young…someone beat you to it.  Our choices have brought us to where we are at present.  Our choices will earn us a Hall-of-Fame life.  But it is our choice.  Take charge of your life and don’t wait around for someone to give you permission to do so.  The fact you are breathing is permission enough.

“Expect Nothing”

Don’t let entitlement thinking cloud your judgment and stick to you like snowflakes.  I’m sure Parcells did not mean by this, “Don’t get your hopes up.”  It’s wrong to expect others and God to do for you that which you are able to do for yourself.

“Do Something”

Take action.  This is a call for initiative.  For forward momentum.  Make a decision and see it through.  If it doesn’t turn out quite right, make the mid-course correction but by all means don’t stop.  God and the universe reward effort.  If you exert, you will see a return on investment!

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It’s Your Life. Own it. No. 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Harry S Truman was famous for many things.  A plain-spoken man.  He made the terribly  weighty decision to drop two nuclear bombs on the Empire of Japan, no doubt hastening the end of World War II.

But he is perhaps best known by a little sign he kept on his desk.  He was the chief executive officer of the United States and Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces.  He made choices that affected history and lives.

“The buck stops here.”

Buck-passing is currently in vogue now.  Has been for some time.  But it has never served anyone who has participated in it.  President Truman used this maxim to communicate one thing: I am ultimately responsible. See the picture.

Recently, I heard someone say, “The moment in which you grow up is when you take complete responsibility for your life.”

Complete responsibility.

I’ve been chewing on this lately and having to eat crow as a side dish.  I’ve done my share of buck-passing, blame-shifting and the like.  What I have found, however, is that as I have embraced full responsibility for my life—where things went bad, where I fell short of some objective, where life ended up being the pits—I feel strangely liberated.  Like a young man who moves out on his own for the first time and assumes the responsibility that had been his parents’.

As a leader, you will grow rapidly as you wrestle with this challenge and not permit yourself to be seduced by the siren song of the culture.  No more will you say “I can’t” about a thing when you know inside that you can.  It will just cost more.  Longer work.  More exercise.  Loss of a friendship because you tell the truth in love.

  • I am responsible for being out of shape.  I chose to eat poorly and not exercise.  Now I’m trying to eat better and am walking and exercising regularly.
  • I am responsible for my career advancement or lack of.  I chose to stay in an unfulfilling job when the time came to go.  I chose not to pound the pavement and send out resumés.  I chose not to further my education in one way or another.  Now, I’m tweaking my LinkedIn profile and expanding my vocational skills.  On my own time.  Without monetary pay.  There’s more than one form of remuneration, after all.
  • I am responsible for inferior relationships.  I chose not to cultivate friendships or to repair those that have taken a beating in the rough and tumble of life.  Now, I’m spending more time with people—meeting new friends and staying in touch with old friends.

Challenge:  Take a long and honest look at your life and see if there’s a time you ducked responsibility.  Evaluate it.  And own it.  Then craft a plan to do things differently the next time you are thus challenged. You will feel empowered immediately.

One Who’ll Walk Beside You

David, a former student, and I play Scottish reels

“He will come after me, this young Timothy; looking for someone to guide him.” (Michael Card)

I have been privileged to teach and mentor people for about 25 years now.   Most of this has taken place in music lessons where I am teaching guitar, piano or music theory.  In other cases, I have been able to teach, show and guide in work environments as a pastor, baker, carpenter or IT professional; as well in small group settings over coffee and pastries.  And most important of all in my own home, raising our two beautiful, intelligent daughters.   This could not have been done without their mother, the crown jewel.  Compared to her input, mine was modest.

It is the responsibility of those of us who are older, whose heads have hair that has either turned gray or loose, to pass on the stuff of life to those whom God and destiny have brought into our paths.  Our children top the list but there are plenty more.  The world is crying for leaders and the young look to the older to guide them, to show them how to navigate life and have an impact on the world.

Today, I began a 6 month journey walking along side over half a dozen young men.  All marvelous individuals with the mark of leadership on them.  Together we will look at work, career, faith, money, sex, understanding women and a whole lot more.  We will share the things we’ve learned and are learning and grow together.  One of the hallmarks of our church, New Life Christian Church of Watertown NY, is to raise up and fully equip the next generation.  I’m privileged to have a part.

So I expect we’ll be sharing in this blog over the next year some of the special things we learn.  Our group has wide interests and careers—music, US Army, IT, US Postal Service, agriculture, youth ministry, fire safety, delivery services and more.  Join us on this blog as we learn together.

Our focus next week is “Taking 100% Responsibility For Your Life.”

It’s going to be great.  I guarantee it.

Assuming Command

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.

100% responsibility.

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 wayViktor 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.

2012 is going to be your year.  Hold nothing back.

It’s Your Life: Own It

True confession: I like to weasel out of responsibility for my life and choices.  And I’m pretty good at it—and at self-deception as well.

I kvetch about working too many hours or having too many things on the schedule.  But I said “yes” for a myriad of good and lousy reasons. And then I’m tired and irritable.  I grouse about looking like a chubby little hobbit but I ate the M&M’s and Tootsie Rolls staring at me from the bowl, saying, “Take me, I’m yours.”

It doesn’t work for me, frankly.  This incident from Scott Peck’s life, recounted in The Road Less Traveled is mighty convicting.  But he nails this whole matter of taking responsibility for one’s life:

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Almost all of us from time to time seek to avoid-in ways that can be quite subtle-the pain of assuming responsibility for our problems. For the cure of my own subtle character disorder at the age of thirty I am indebted to Mac Badgely. At the time Mac was the director of the outpatient psychiatric clinic where I was completing my psychiatry residency training. In this clinic my fellow residents and I were assigned new patients on rotation. Perhaps because I was more dedicated to my patients and my own education than most of my fellow residents, I found myself working much longer hours than they. They ordinarily saw patients only once a week. I often saw my patients two or three times a week. As a result I would watch my fellow residents leaving the clinic at four-thirty each afternoon for their homes, while I was scheduled with appointments up to eight or nine o’clock at night, and my heart was filled with resentment. As I became more and more resentful and more and more exhausted I realized that something had to be done. So I went to Dr. Badgely and explained the situation to him. I wondered whether I might be exempted from the rotation of accepting new patients for a few weeks so that I might have time to catch up. Did he think that was feasible? Or could he think of some other solution to the problem? Mac listened to me very intently and receptively, not interrupting once. When I was finished, after a moment’s silence, he said to me very sympathetically, “Well, I can see that you do have a problem.”

I beamed, feeling understood. “Thank you,” I said. “What do you think should be done about it?”

To this Mac replied, “I told you, Scott, you do have a problem.”

This was hardly the response I expected. “Yes,” I said, slightly annoyed, “I know I have a problem. That’s why I came to see you. What do you think I ought to do about it?”

Mac responded: “Scott, apparently you haven’t listened to what I said. I have heard you, and I am agreeing why you. You do have a problem.”…[cursing] I said, “I know I have a problem. I knew that when I came in here. The question is, what am I going to do about it?”

“Scott,” Mac replied, “I want you to listen. Listen closely and I will say it again. I agree with you. You do have a problem. Specifically, you have a problem with time. Your time. Not my time. It’s not my problem. It’s your problem with your time. You, Scott Peck, have a problem with your time. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

I turned and strode out of Mac’s office, furious. And I stayed furious. I hated Mac Badgely. For three months I hated him. I felt that he had a severe character disorder. How else could he be so callous? Here I had gone to him humbly asking for just a little bit of help, a little bit of advice, and the bastard wasn’t even willing to assume enough responsibility even to try to help me, even to do his job as director of the clinic. If he wasn’t supposed to help manage such problems as director of the clinic, what the hell was he supposed to do?

But after three months I somehow came to see that Mac was right, that it was I, not he, who had the character disorder. My time was my responsibility. It was up to me and me alone to decide how I wanted to use and order my time. If I wanted to invest my time more heavily than my fellow residents in my work, then that was my choice, and the consequences of that choice were my responsibility. It might be painful for me to watch my fellow residents leave their offices two or three hours before me, and it might be painful to listen to my wife’s complaints that I was not devoting myself sufficiently to the family, but these pains were the consequences of a choice that I had made. If I did not want to suffer them, then I was free to choose not to work so hard and to structure my time differently. My working hard was not a burden cast upon me by hardhearted fate or a hardhearted clinic director; it was the way I had chosen to live my life and order my priorities. As it happened, I chose not to change my life style. But with my change in attitude, my resentment of my fellow residents vanished.    

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This is tough medicine.  But we are responsible for our choices.  You didn’t have to take that job.  Go out with that person.  Vote for Obama or Bush.  Drink too many mixed drinks.  Eat the M&M’s.

Life is so much easier when we live free.  But freedom comes at the price of taking complete responsibility for all that is in our power.