Control What You Can

This is likely to be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written. That’s because it’s about controlling the things in your life that you have control over. Complete control. 

 

There aren’t many of those things. Here are the ones that come to mind.

 

You have complete and total control over your level of professionalism. It doesn’t matter what your colleagues are doing, it doesn’t matter what your clients or customers are doing. It makes no difference what industry you’re in or what position you hold in your organization. Whether you’re in the mail room or the executive office YOU decide the level of professionalism that you will exhibit at ALL times. 

 

We do not get to choose our family but we most certainly get to choose our friends. You have complete control over the people outside of your family that you allow into your life. Since you are basically the compilation of the five people you spend the most time with it is imperative that you choose your friends well. 

 

If you choose to hang around negative people you will be a negative person. If you choose to spend large amounts of your time with people who lack integrity then you will lack integrity. If you believe you can consistently swim against the current of the environment you place yourself in then you are fooling yourself. Control who you allow into your life or the people in your life will control you. 

 

No matter where you live, no matter how you live, and no matter the circumstances and obstacles that have been placed before you, your attitude is and always will be your choice. You have complete and total control over your attitude every waking moment.

 

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. In his fantastic book “Man’s Search for Meaning” he describes the choice of attitude as the last of the human freedoms. His point is this; all other freedoms are perishable, they can be taken from you. The only freedom that can never be taken from you is the choice of a positive attitude. 

 

You may disagree with that but think about it…is your situation really worse than being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp? If Viktor Frankl could control his attitude in that environment then I, and you, can certainly control ours, regardless of how difficult it may be. 

 

There are plenty of other things you have some control over but the key word there is “some.” There isn’t much you have complete control over but if success is your objective then you must control the things you can. 


And yes, I now acknowledge that this post wasn’t that short after all. 


The Challenge of Change

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction” Winston Churchill

The above quote from the great Winston Churchill is truth in it’s purest form. The question for leaders in every type of organization is this: How do you know if you’re changing in the right direction. That’s a big question but even that is not the challenge of change, the real challenge of change is this: people resist change even if it is in the right direction. 

There are two types of people in the world: those who say they love change and honest people.

I exaggerate a bit with that comment but only a bit. Most people are challenged by change for one simple reason: all change comes with some sort of loss. Every time something changes in your life you lose something, even if you initiate the change. You accept a new job and you “lose” many of the relationships that existed with the old one. You buy a new house and you miss some of your old neighbors. You may not even be aware of the “loss” but it affects you anyway.

I’m actually okay with change so long as it doesn’t effect me personally. I know of many things and many more people who need to change. Thankfully, I’m not one of them. I know there are people who think I do need to change but it’s actually their thinking that needs to change, not me. 😏

I suspect most people are like me, I have no real interest in changing or dealing with change and if the world would just sit still for a minute I’d be just fine with that.

But the world won’t sit still.

That’s why it’s so important that like change or not, we learn how to manage it and even use it to our benefit. 

One key to successfully managing change is to acknowledge the loss. We need to realize that it’s okay to feel a little distress with the loss, it’s normal and it doesn’t make you any less effective as a person or a leader.

Once you acknowledge the loss you can replace it. There is something in the “change” which will replace the loss, something new, something that might take getting used to, but the void of the loss will be filled.

Once the loss is acknowledged and replaced it becomes much easier to move forward. Change experts (which I am certainly not) would even say to celebrate the passing of old into new as a way of getting closure out the loss and embracing the new.

Here’s a fact that all successful people know: you don’t have to like change to make it work for you. You do need to understand it, you do need to accept it, you do need to realize that it’s going to happen whether you want it to or not.

The real question is whether it will happen to you or for you. That’s a choice and it’s a choice only you can make.

You’ve Chosen Your Life

You’ve chosen your way to the life you have.

To those who would say they have not chosen their life, that their circumstances and events outside of their control have chosen their life I say to you: excuses, excuses, excuses.

The more you allow circumstances to control your life the less control of your life you have. If you’re allowing circumstances to control your life you’ve undoubtedly forgotten about the incredible power of you. You, like every other person on the planet can have more control over your life just by taking it.

Successful people control the circumstances of their life, they put themselves in a position to succeed. They use the circumstances of their life to their benefit, regardless of what those circumstances happen to be.

You make choices every day, and every choice has a consequence. It could be a positive consequence or it could be a negative consequence but no choice in life goes unnoticed.

Perhaps the most important choice you make every day is the choice of a positive attitude. A positive attitude makes everything in life easier. Some days you’ll need to make that choice more than once but never allow others to make that choice for you.

You choose the friends and people that you allow into your life and these friends and people have a major impact on the direction of your life. If you choose to spend your life with negative people, chances are you’ll be a negative person. If you choose to spend your time with unmotivated people it’s likely you won’t be motivated either. 

The people in your life are there because you allow them to be there, you may not realize this is a choice you’ve made but it is one of the most important choices you can make in life. Choose very carefully!

Victor Frankl, author of the life changing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning, ” says “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” When you accept that challenge to change yourself then you begin to control your life through better choices. 

I believe that we all are born with a purpose in mind. Something that makes our life worth living, something that makes our life matter. It’s something important. Once you have determined that important thing in your life you can live your life on purpose for a purpose. You no longer live your life just for today and take what comes, instead you make what comes.

You may not like where you are in life, but it’s your choices that have put you there. If you desire to be someplace else in life then make different choices because you choose your way to the life you have.

It may seem to you that others can force their choices on you but when you begin each day with the choice of a positive attitude you’ll have more choices than you could have ever imagined. No one, absolutely no one, can force their attitude on you. Frankl says that the choice of our attitude in the last of human freedoms, meaning “they” can take everything else from you but they can never take away your choice of a positive attitude.

Wherever you are in life today, your first step to being someplace else is to acknowledge that you put yourself exactly where you are. Acknowledge that you’ve done that, your choices have done that, the decisions you’ve made have done that. When you acknowledge that your choices in life have consequences, then you begin to control your life and it’s then that you begin to make your success.

Some days I’m happier than others and on the days when I can force myself to be honest about it I realize that it’s my choices that have determined my level of happiness. Successful people find a way to force that honesty upon themselves more days than not.

When you’re willing to accept 100% responsibility for who you are, what you are, and where you are then you’ll discover the power to change any part of your life that you desire.

You’ll also discover that you’ve had the power all along. Don’t waste another day of it! 

Is Your Life TBD?

Your life, at least everyday going forward is “to be determined.” The only question is, who will determine it. 

It’s a vital question. The answer likely determines both the level of your happiness and success. 

Here’s a few questions to help you become more aware of exactly who is determining your future:

Are you waiting for your life to happen? Do you wait for something to happen while successful people are making something happen? Are you waiting for your “big break” while successful people are making themselves a big break? Are you working hard or hardly working? Do you have goals and a plan? Do you go with the flow or create your own current?

One final question … Can you be honest enough with yourself to answer those questions truthfully?

No matter the circumstances surrounding your life, the economy, your education, where you live or where you grew up or your past experience, no matter what, your future will be determined by YOUR actions. Your actions are mostly determined by your attitude. Your attitude is completely your choice and by extension, so are your actions.

Even if a great opportunity does just “happen” along you still must have to courage to reach out and grab it, you must have to courage to take action.

Do you have an attitude of “can’t” or an attitude of “can?” When you hear yourself saying “I can’t” you best ask yourself one final question. Do you really mean “I won’t?”  I’d personally bet on the “I won’t” because the fact is, you almost certainly can.

There will always be excuses available to those who are willing to accept them but here’s another fact: the most successful people do not need excuses and they will not accept them when available. They simply outwork the need for excuses.

While hard work is good, hard work with goals and a plan is great. If you don’t have goals, true goals, then you reduce your chances of success ten-fold. The creation of goals leads to the development of the plans required to achieve them. In nearly every instance the lack of a plan leads directly to the lack of success.

If you’re blaming “them” or blaming “they” for your lack of success then think again. Until you accept responsibility for where you are you will never do what needs to be done to get yourself where you want to be. You and only you can put yourself somewhere else. When you accept the excuses available you surrender the awesome power of YOU! You allow other people and other stuff to determine your level of success and often, your level of happiness.

Bob Hope, the great American comedian and actor said: “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.” That’s a great quote, I especially like the part where he says “I steered myself there.” You can do that too!

It’s unlikely that you would buy the car of your dreams and then only allow other people to drive it. Why let other people steer the course of your life with their excuses for you?

Step up this week and step out into the light of harsh reality. You may not like where you are but in all likelihood you put yourself there. You are the only person in the world who can put yourself somewhere else.

I’ve used the word success quite a bit in this post but so far I haven’t really defined what true success is. I won’t define it for you because I can’t. Never let anyone but YOU define your success or tell you if you are happy or not. YOUR success and happiness can only be defined by YOU. If others don’t believe you’re successful enough or happy enough that’s their problem not yours. 

If you’re happy with “where you are in life” then by all means stay there. If you’re not happy with where you are, then by any and all means possible, get moving in the direction of your dreams.

Start today! 

When to Take a Mulligan in Life

I’m tempted to begin this post with a sentence saying that I play golf. That might be a bit of an overstatement. I spend time on golf courses hitting a small white ball. I hit it too often to call what I do playing golf. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play golf, I play a round. 

My regular golf buddies and I fully understand the rules of golf and we mostly follow them completely. We play for large amounts of money, I once had a very good day and won almost 6 bucks! Even with the high stakes the weekly game is always friendly, and forgiving. On the first hole of a round we “allow” a mulligan. A mulligan is a “do-over” with no penalty. If your first shot is less than you had hoped for you just hit another one. No harm, no penalty!

It’s too bad life doesn’t offer mulligans. In golf there is no consequence for a bad first shot when you take a mulligan. When we mess up a part of our life there frequently are consequences. We, or someone, generally pays for our mistakes.

Just because there are consequences however doesn’t mean we don’t get a do-over. If your life isn’t heading in the direction you would like then by any and all means possible, change direction. 

If a change of direction isn’t enough then take a life mulligan. Start over. 

The starting point for your do-over is wherever you are today. Take from the past only the experiences which will help you in the future. Leave behind your regrets, mistakes, and failures. Above all, leave behind the fear that causes so much hesitation and doubt.

You may also need to leave behind those things and sadly, people who do not provide you with the positive influence you need to succeed. It’s not easy to start over, but most successful people have done it once, twice, or even several times before they found their ultimate success.

In golf when you take a mulligan you (at least I) rarely try something different. You just tee up another ball and hope for a better result. Sometimes it works and most times it doesn’t.

In life, doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a pretty good definition of insanity. If you’re taking a life mulligan only to do the same things the same way then just skip it. You’ll only end up at exactly the same place you started. 

Set new goals, make new plans, get a mentor, educate yourself, and leave much of the old you behind. You’re never too young to begin again and you’re never too old to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. 

I’ll take a mulligan! 

Why YOU Matter!

There are few things in life that you absolutely must know. I suppose even those few things could be debated. The few things we must know vary by person as well. Your occupation or profession will also partially determine what you need to know too. Where you live might make a difference along with how long you live. 

What you need to know is at least a little different than what I need to know or what the person who lives down the street needs to know. But there is one thing that every single living human being needs to know.

They matter!

YOU matter!

There is absolutely no way you could ever stop mattering. Even if you allow someone to convince you that you are somehow inferior to other people YOU still matter. YOU matter whether you believe it or not, so believe it! 

Because YOU matter, never let someone tell YOU that you don’t. People, anyone, that would tell you that YOU don’t matter clearly do not have your best interests in mind. Ignore them. Those kind of people will likely always be part of your life but it is solely your choice as to whether you listen to them or not. Always remember this: NEVER be one of those people who think or say that YOU don’t matter. Some days you may need to remind yourself often that YOU are amazing and that no matter what happens in your life YOU matter!

The world needs YOU and it needs YOU to be just as YOU are. Even if you’re an identical twin there is only one YOU. No one else can be truly be identical to YOU so don’t rob the world of YOU by trying to be someone or something you’re not. Just be the very best YOU possible. 

Don’t believe that you’re just “good enough” or only “average” because you’re not only the best YOU, you’re the only YOU. Out of billions of people already born and yet to be born there is only one of YOU and that ought to prove just how special YOU are and how much YOU matter. 

Because YOU matter YOU can accomplish great things. You’ve been given a life that allows you the opportunity to make a difference in the world. As long as you can draw a breath you have the opportunity to use your amazing life to make a difference in the life of someone else. YOU do!

Maybe helping other people know how much they matter is the difference you’ll make. It’s a worthwhile difference to make and YOU can do that.

It’s only a question of whether or not YOU will! So answer the question today by telling, and maybe even showing, someone how much they matter to YOU!

When to Fire Your Boss

Fire Your BossGeez, there were so many possibilities for a title to this post I almost didn’t write it.

I was thinking to go a little more straight to the point and call it “When to Quit Your Job” or maybe just “When to quit” but I decided I needed to have “boss” in the title because the vast majority of people who leave their job don’t really quit their job or even the company, they most often quit their boss.

I used the word “fire” your boss because I wanted to make sure people knew they were in control of their own destiny. At least in most parts of the world you can’t be forced to work somewhere or for someone who you simply can’t stand. You really can fire your boss, or company, at anytime.

It is, however, a question of timing as to when exactly to make this decision. Most people are unhappy in their job. Some are unhappy for an afternoon after a particularly tough morning. Some are unhappy for a longer period of time, weeks or months as they deal with issues at work or perhaps it’s personal issues that they can’t separate from work.

Others are just plain unhappy with their job, it may be the function they perform, it might be a personality conflict with their boss, or the job simply might not be a match for their skill-set.

If you’re in the third group and you’re experiencing any or all of the following “symptoms” then you’ll know it’s likely time to fire your boss.

Broken Promises. If you repeatedly promise yourself you’ll quit, there’s usually an underlying cause. Like any other bad habit, you become so used to broken promises to yourself about quitting that you never actually do it.

The second symptom is continued lack of growth despite your best efforts. If you’ve tried to improve your results and haven’t delivered, your skills, abilities and attitude may not be a match with your role. There are other possible problems here but this much is certain, if you’ve truly given your very best effort and still no one notices, your current job is probably not the job for you.

The last symptom is no jealousy. If you don’t want your bosses’ job, you could have a problem. If at least one of your goals is not advancement to a position higher than your current position, you will likely “coast” your way out the door. Your more motivated peers will simply pass you, likely creating even more discontent in your current job.

If you suffer from these symptoms, and “suffer” is a pretty accurate description of what you’re feeling, then your time is up. You need to more on.

Quitting your job, no matter how much you hate it can be a risky endeavor. So mitigate some of that risk by making sure you’re not running from your current job, make sure you’re running to your next one. You don’t actually have to have a new job before quitting your current one but you should have an idea of what you’re looking for and a plan, a real plan, on how to find it.

Once you quit make sure you walk out the door not run. Don’t damage your integrity by leaving lots of loose ends or by not following the due process of your current employer. As the saying goes “don’t burn bridges that you may need to cross again.”

Don’t allow yourself to dread going to work everyday. YOU control your life, the only way  that’s not true is if you allow someone else to control it for you. If you’re in a poor work situation then change it, it’s your life, it’s your job, it’s your choice.