I got the inspiration for today’s career advice in three very disparate places – a book about an Australian woman’s experiences in India; a conversation I once had with a Native American Shaman, and the poem, Desiderata. All three reinforce a point about finding a way to live in harmony with your current situation.
In the book Holy Cow, Sarah MacDonald an Aussie, tells the story of living in India. It’s a funny, sad, touching and frustrating book. I liked it. At one point Sarah meets an Indian man who tries to explain to her why even though many live in poverty Indian people seem to be happy and why “white people are not happy.”
“We Indian people, we look at the people more poor, more low, more hard that us and we be thanking God we are not them. So we are happy. But you white people, you are looking at the peoples above you all of the times, and you are thinking why aren’t I be them? Why am I not having that moneys and things? And so, you are unhappy all of the time.”
This reminded me of a conversation I once had with a Navajo shaman. He was discussing the difference in Native American and white American culture. He said, “When there is a drought, the white man prays for rain. The Navajo prays for the ability to live in harmony with the drought.”
Then there is Desiderata. I did a blog post on it recently. You can see it here. One of the stanzas echoes the thoughts of the Indian man and the Native American shaman. Check it out…
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
There will always be circumstances beyond your control – the circumstances of your birth, the weather, where you begin your career success journey. It is wise to find a way to be in harmony with your current situation.
That said, you don’t have to remain in your current situation. If you want to improve your current situation – make more money, a better job, a nicer place to live, more life and career success — take personal responsibility for doing so. Tweet 21 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “You’re in charge. Commit to taking personal responsibility for creating the life and career success you want and deserve.”
Yes, you (and I) are in charge of creating our own life and career success. As I’ve said, it’s important to get into harmony with your current situation. But if you don’t want to remain in your current situation, do something about it. Take personal responsibility for changing your situation: eliminate blame, stop complaining, and stop being a victim. Take charge of your life and career success.
You demonstrate your commitment to taking personal responsibility for your life and career success by responding positively to the people and events and events in your life – especially when they are less than positive. I frequently offer this advice to my career success coach clients.
I had an opportunity to test myself on this one a couple of months ago. I got up very early to post my blog. When I got to my office, my computer was frozen. I could move the cursor, but could not actually open a document – or do anything else for that matter. My machine needed to spend some time with the Geek Squad getting a tune up.
I had been meaning to read a couple of novels I had picked up the week before. I figured my computer problems presented an excellent opportunity to spend that day doing just that. However, in the middle of all this, I realized that I was being presented with a challenge to see if I could walk my talk when it comes to reacting positively to the negative events in my life. Reading novels instead of working would not be demonstrating my commitment to taking personal responsibility for my career success – even if no one else knew I’d blown off a day and a half.
I knew that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do with my backup computer. But there were things I could do. I chose to figure out what I could accomplish without the use of my main machine and set out doing it. I could still write blog posts. I could still do a lot of things. And that’s my career success coach advice to you – when you run into problems, don’t complain about what you can’t do, figure out what you can do and then do it.
Stuff happens as you go through life: good stuff, bad stuff, frustrating stuff, unexpected stuff. Successful people respond to the tough stuff that happens in a positive way. Humans are the only animals with free will. That means we – you and me – get to decide how we react to every situation that comes up. That’s why taking personal responsibility for yourself and choosing to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens to you is so important.
Personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your life and the choices you make. It means that you realize that while other people and events have an impact on your life, these people and events don’t shape your life. When you accept personal responsibility for your life and career success, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important. And you can choose how to react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you.
The concept of personal responsibility is found in most writings on life and career success. Stephen Covey’s first habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Be proactive.” I have a little book called Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People, also by Stephen Covey. It is one of the most-read books that I have. I like it because it provides a little snippet of advice from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People every day.
The daily reflection for September 24 goes directly to what I’m talking about here and it gets to the heart of personal responsibility and life and career success.
“It’s not really what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”
Dr. Covey provides some great career advice here. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to both the positive and negative experiences we have as we go through life. Successful people choose to make lemonade out of lemons. Unsuccessful people choose to complain about the bitter, tart taste of the lemons they are handed.
I know the “lemons into lemonade” line is a cliché. However, clichés become clichés because they have an underlying truth. The important point is that human beings are blessed with free will. As such, we can choose what we do and how we react to the world around us. We can choose a positive, productive path, or we can choose a path of self pity and inaction – and hurt only ourselves in the end.
The 7 Habits advice for September 25 carries on in the same vein…
“Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.”
I love the concept of carrying your own weather with you. Choosing to react positively to the negative people and events in your life is the best way to carry your weather – and to take personal responsibility for your life and career success.
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Successful people know that they need to live in harmony with the situations in which they find themselves. They also know that they can choose how they respond to their situation as well as everyone they meet and everything that happens to them. They know that they are the only one who can create their life and career success. They know that “the devil made me do it” is never an accurate statement. They also know that no one can “make” them mad. They follow the career success advice in Tweets 21 and 32 in Success Tweets. “You’re in charge. Commit to taking personal responsibility for creating the life and career success you want and deserve.” (21) “Stuff happens as you go about creating your life and career success. Choose to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens.” (32) If you want to create the career success you deserve, remember Stephen Covey’s advice. Carry your weather with you. In this way, whether it rains or shines on the outside, it will be sunny on the inside. Choose to react positively to the negative people you meet, and the negative things that happen to you. When you do, you’ll find that you’ll have less negative things happening and fewer negative people entering your life.
That’s my career advice on accepting your present situation and taking personal responsibility for changing it if you want to. What do you think? Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained. It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.