How many people do you know that consider themselves successful—really successful in everything they do and touch?
They love their work, coworkers and boss believe that their skills and output are essential, are surrounded by terrific friends, their family thinks they walk on water, have plenty of money, are never held back by health related issues—these people love the rainbow of life.
How about a few? None? How about you? Are you where you want to be in your career? In your personal life?
Let’s start there, because the bottom line is this: to be successful, you must take 100% responsibility for your life. According to Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul® fame, “The only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live is you.” It’s the first principle in his latest book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Harper Resource).
Of the 64 Principles he identifies, it’s the foundation and the key to his personal success. He’s applied them for the past 30 years—from earning $8,000 as a school teacher to millions annually today. Obviously, something has worked.
“Taking responsibility includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings—everything!” according to Canfield.
Taking responsibility is always a challenge. In today’s workplace, too many are active participants in the blame game—it’s always someone or something’s fault when things go wrong. The boss, coworker, spouse, parents, clients, economy, lack of money or education, isms (racism, sexism, ageism, lookism, you-name-it ism), gender bias, weather, politics, even the morning’s astrological prediction can be pointed at as the root of the current problem.
Canfield acknowledges that there are plenty of things that you and I can’t directly control. We can control, though, what we do after they have occurred. His formula for dealing with events that happen, be they a tornado, hurricane, war, etc., or life experiences—success or failure, health or illness, wealth or poverty, joy or sadness is:
E + R = O
Event + Response = Outcome
What happened has happened. You can’t undo the Event, so what are you going to do next? Your Response/Reaction will lead to the Outcome. That’s where responsibility comes into play. The Success Principles says you have two choices.
1 You can blame the Event (E) for your lack of results (O). Or,
2 You can change your responses (R) to the event (E)—to the way things are—until you get the outcomes (O) you want.
Using that premise, let’s look at traffic in the Metro Denver area—it’s a mess during rush hour. T-Rex has expanded the drive time for commuters into DTC, downtown or if you have to drive through those areas to get where you need to be. What’s your response when you get stuck in it?
1 You can blame the construction (E), which makes you pissy (R) and for being late to work (O) which will more than likely affect your attitude and productivity when you finally get to work. Or,
2 Knowing that you have more time in you car and that there will be delays (E), you can bring a thermos of coffee or tea, have CDs to listen to—music, books on tape, a taped educational course or foreign language—even a book to read if you really get jammed, and a cell phone to connect with work or catch up with family/friends (R). The result (O) is that you aren’t pissy, you’ve enjoyed your favorite morning beverage; listened to something that has inspired, motivated, or taught; and checked in with your best friend. When you finally arrive, your mood is upbeat; you’re ready to tackle anything.
Which scenario would you (and those you work and live with) choose—#1 or #2? Pissy or positive?
It’s so convenient to point at “causes” of whatever ails you. It takes time and work to unravel your personal roadblocks.
The Success Principles weighs in at just under 500 pages—almost unheard of in today’s mini-business parable type books that frequent the bestseller lists. Who has the time or wants to lug around an elephant of a book? You should.
Grumbling, complaining and blaming get you nowhere. No matter how much fault you find with something or someone and blame them as the root of all that is wrong, it’s not going to help you. Or change you. The secret: you change you.
You are the primary ingredient in the responsibility quotient for success. No one can stand in as a substitute.