Life is a series of brain juggling exercises.  We consider all the variables that enter into an equation.  We try to determine how each variable affects the whole.  What would happen if…?   Like multiple choice tests, some answers simply don’t fit and are easy to discard.  Then you get to the more complex answers, the more nuanced answers.   And even more complicated, you get to the answers that require compromise.  What am I willing to compromise?  Hmmm.

That is a very good question.  And that is the subject of today’s blog.

Let me throw out two principles.  You tell me, are these negotiable?

  1. To be successful I need a direction.
  2. To be successful I need to move in that direction.

The clearer I am about the direction I’m heading the more likely it is that I will reach my destination.

The more I take steps in the direction I’ve chosen the sooner I will get there.

So now, what happens when I try to negotiate with myself about these two principles?  Who am I fooling when I come up with excuses for why I am not clarifying where I want to head?  Or who am I fooling when I rationalize not moving toward my chosen destination?

I guess it all boils down to how much I want to get to where I want to go.  It’s really not that complicated.  I might like to get stuck in the formula because that gives me an excuse.  But in fact it’s pretty simple.  If I want to get somewhere I need to identify some place on the map, look at a compass, and get going.   Bargaining will get me nowhere.

I know.  I’ve had it happen to me when I least expected it.  I loved what I was doing. I thought I was doing  just fine.  That’s what I’d been told.   And then out of left field, “You’re through.”   I was stunned.  In our economic times that story repeats over and over.  And it’s going to keep happening.  It’s what comes of not owning your life.

I ceded control of my life to a company, to an organization.  It felt more secure that way.  But it didn’t turn out that way.

As it turns out, the only life I really can control is my own.  Oh, I know, there are things that happen outside of my control.  But I’m not talking about the things I can’t control.  I’m talking about what I do have control over… like my attitude, my point of view.

I forgot that only I can be my own Self Executive Officer.  A company can let me go; but I’m all I got.  I think I’ll hang onto myself.  You see, I still have all the good stuff that was there yesterday.  And I’m guessing there’s a lot more I haven’t noticed yet.

I think I’ll get up and get going again.  But this time I’ll be smarter.  I’ll find a way to think like an owner.  I’ll get up, wipe the dust off myself, and look for options.  Where am I?  What do I want?  And what are my options?  I know one thing for sure.  I am going to be a winner, because I’m not quitting on myself.  I’m going to keep getting up, as many times as I fall, keep getting up over and over again.

I  know what happens.

You got pumped.   You could see yourself making the final turn to cross the finish line.  You could see yourself on stage to receive the award.   You could see the approval in the eyes of people you respected.  You could hear the music, the applause of genuine recognition.  You could feel the inner satisfaction of knowing that you overcame your fears to venture out of your comfort zone.

And then you woke up to where you are.  You remembered you weren’t there yet.  You remembered what still had to be done, the people that were driving you crazy, the situations that seemed daunting.  And you thought, why did I ever think…

And here’s where the good news comes in.  You get to choose what you’re going to pay attention to.

So how do you decide?  I’m so glad you asked.  Well, let’s try a couple ways to look at this.  If I were to have you fill in the blank, how would you complete this statement?  All I really want is  ……………..

Or, how about this?  Imagine yourself continuing on your present course in life.  You make no major adjustments to the patterns you have established.  Where will you end up?   What’s the best scenario?  What’s the worst scenario?

Now imagine yourself choosing to do something different, something really outrageous, something that you’ve not done before, something that calls for you to be a better person, something that calls for you to use more of your talent, something that requires more commitment.  What’s the worst scenario?  What’s the best scenario?

I’m here to tell you that what you pay attention to matters.

And the good news is that you get to choose.

I know that last week I said that I would keep on and not quit.   But if you only knew what happened this week, you would understand…  You see, just when things were looking  so promising…  Fill in the blanks.  We’ve all been there.  In fact, it should be no surprise because as Scott Peck said in The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.”

The question is, I get to choose my attitude when I run into situations that do not please me.  How does that serenity prayer go?  Lord, help me to know what things I can change so that I can change them, which things I cannot change so that I can accept them, and help me to know the difference between the two.  I’m not talking about settling for what I can change.  I’m talking about discerning what  are roadblocks that I must go around and what are challenges that will make me a better person by taking them on.

What I think happens is that there is an internal struggle going on.  Part of me wants to keep on keeping on and part of me wants to lay down and quit.

Now, let me ask you a question.  Was what happened this week a roadblock that you need to go  around?  Or was  it a challenge to take on?

Don’t rush this answer because your answer will make a difference.  If you decide to tackle a roadblock, who is going to win?  But if you choose to tackle a challenge, who is going to win?

Here’s a free tip.  Your odds are a lot greater for winning if you are tackling a challenge.

Now, let’s say that you are facing a challenge, are you more likely to win if you look for options or if you focus on the formidable features of the challenge? You can choose to look at the assets you have in your hand.  Or you can choose to look at your formidable opponent.  What you see will depend upon what you are looking for.  You can choose to look for solutions; or you can choose to look for an escape.

What are you looking for?