Last night, I was talking on the phone to my 26 year old son. In the course of the conversation, he told me he hadn’t been very productive in the evenings when he gets home from work and he was struggling with getting his paper work completed. As the conversation unfolded, I suggested perhaps he needed to work out regularly. He responded enthusiastically to that idea stating that’s exactly what he needed to do. And then he added a barely audible phrase, “That’s not going to happen.” My response was, “Wow! Who’s in charge of your life?” He said he wasn’t sure but he was confident it wasn’t him. We both roared with laughter hearing him admit out loud what so many of us internalize — this can’t be my responsibility. He’s 26, single, lives alone, has a great job and makes plenty of money. We both know he is completely responsible for his unproductive evenings, his paper work and his workout schedule — there is no one else to blame.
Monday on Facebook Live, I talked about the fact that we are 100% responsible for the outcomes of our lives. It’s not the event or the circumstances that dictates the outcome, it’s our response to it. Not long after a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles, a CNN reporter was on a highway that had been damaged. The typical commute was one hour but the damage to the road system elongated the commute to two and three hours. The reporter decided to get out of his media truck and interview the drivers — since they were all at a standstill. The first driver told him how much he hated California, how no matter what he did he never got to work on time. He was bitter, discontent, and angry. The second driver, with a pleasant tone and a big smile, said he left his house at 5:00AM, he knew his boss would not expect anything more in light of the situation. He had a thermos full of coffee, a snack, a book, his favorite music, an audible language lesson and his cell phone. He was making good use of the time and was perfectly happy with his outcome. If the event or circumstance causes the outcome, both of those drivers would have been in the same boat.
We are conditioned to blame things, people, animals, even the weather; to complain about the circumstance; to assume there is nothing we can do. If we don’t like our outcome, we can change our response. If you’re not getting the outcomes you want, I’d love to have a conversation with you about what is blocking you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.