- Acknowledge it for what it is. Fear is a state of being that can be overcome. Admit that you have fear regarding the situation that is affecting you.
- Break the fear down. What is the worst possible thing that can happen as a result of your fear. Many times just stating what the worst thing that can happen as a result will get you to realize that the worst is not that bad. On the flip side, what is the best thing that can happen as a result of overcoming your fear. If realizing the worst thing is not that bad does not work, seeing the best far exceeds the worst will convince you.
- Believe you can overcome your fear. Have faith that you are stronger than the fear you are experiencing. Know that the fear you are experiencing is temporary and can be overcome.
- Overcome. Easier said than done, I know. Face your fear head on, and overcome it!
Personal Responsibility is a hot topic these days. It does not matter what side of the political fence you are on, everyone wants other people to be more accountable to themselves. By very definition, this is the wrong way to look it. The easiest faults to see in others are gaps in integrity. The truth is that you can only change yourself, no matter how hard you try to change others.
So, why should you want to be more personally responsible? I have two reasons why I want to take more responsibility in my life.
- My irresponsibility will eventually become someone else’s responsibility. The government and current welfare system is a great example of this fact. There are people out there that really need some short-term help to get on their feet. There are others that require a lifetime of help due to illness, injury, or another long-term issue. However, there are many people out there that just enjoy sitting at home without a job taking advantage of a system that can not possibly police itself. When someone fails to pull their own weight, someone else has to pay the way for them. I do not want for my responsibilities to fall onto someone else.
- I know that we are all designed for greatness. Every single one us are made to do great things. It is why we were created, why we are drawn to movies about super heroes, why we read books where the underdog wins over the better equipped. We want to be someone’s hero. We ARE designed to be better than we can imagine.
“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by his ability climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein
Personal Responsibility begins with finding the right answers. The right answers can not be found without first asking the right questions. In my opinion there are is only one good question: HOW (or what) can I (or other personal pronoun) ACTION VERB to IMPROVE (whatever your subject matter is)? If you ask questions that start with why, when or who it zaps your ability to do what needs to be done.
It is much easier to wonder when someone else will do something to help your situation than it is to get up and do something for your self. I want to make sure everyday I get to be on this earth, I do the best I can to acknowledge that I am where I am because of what I do, and only I can change that.
In light of this post, I guess the title should be: I am the reason.
What can I do to make my life better?
There are some things that I am good at. There are other things that I am bad at. There are still other things that are just total time wasters. So, why do I find myself doing time wasting things and things that I am really bad at all the time?
- It is the most convenient thing to do. Usually I find myself doing things that are time wasters because it is convenient. It’s there, right next to me, calling my name, “Stephen, look at Facebook.” I guess I should stop carrying my phone with me everywhere I go!?!
- It is the way we are programmed. From our youth we are told over and over to spend most of our time improving on the things we don’t do as well. If you get a “C” in math and an “A” in Creative Writing the first thing you hear is, “WHY DID YOU GET A “C” in Math?! Now don’t get me wrong, Math is important. You should definitely apply yourself to do your best in everything you do. Sometimes, however, I think it is best to take the things that we are good at, and continue to strengthen them.
- We are afraid to be good. I enjoy doing good projects and being recognized for it. The thing about doing good is that it sets expectations. It makes people expect your good to become better and your better to become best. At some point we become afraid that we can’t meet other people’s expectations. I heard a quote the other day, “Today’s expectations are tomorrow’s resentment”. I disagree with that. There is a difference between expectations and being over bearing. Without expectations, whether on ourself or from others, we will never stretch and get better. It is not the fault of those who have expectations of us when we fail. Besides you only fail when you quit.
Now that I have covered some of the reasons why you do not do what you are best at, I have a challenge.
- Write the one or two things that you are best at and love to do. It does not matter what it is. Whether it is writing, helping others, playing piano, teaching, auto mechanics, or cleaning carpet; write it down.
- Write the reasons why you are not doing those things.
- Leave a comment on this blog, call your mom, brother, best friend, or anyone that can contact you and make a commitment to them. Commit that you will eliminate the reasons you are not doing what you love and are best at one at time, every week until all of your excuses are gone.
Do you ever wonder why people do not understand what you are saying? Why the people you speak to do not move in the direction that is clearly best for them? Why your children seemingly ignore your wishes? One problem could be that you are not wearing your “audience goggles.”
Ok, so maybe you can’t go to Walmart and buy a pair of audience goggles. However, realizing the need to see things through the eyes of the people you are communicating to is important. It does not matter whether you are a marketer looking for a consumer or a mother teaching your child.
As cheesy as it may be, 99.9% of the people you meet listen to their favorite radio station “Wii fm” (What’s In It For Me?). It does not always mean that they are being selfish, it is just the way humans are wired. We are born with the instinct to think of ourselves first.
Very often we try to communicate reasons why we want people to do things. In actuality we end up telling people why WE want them to do it. The best way to communicate effectively is to tell them why THEY will want to do it. I can tell my five-year old boy all day long that I want him to clean his room because I’m tired of looking at the mess, but that won’t really work. He ultimately does not care what I am tire of. What he really needs to hear is that HE should want to clean his room because once he is finished, we can go outside and play football.
Many businesses have the same problem. A photographer may tell people he takes pictures. While that is true, is that why his client hires him? No, they hire him because they want to remember that particular event their whole lives, and be able to pass those memories on to future generations.
Anytime you are trying to convey a message to someone, try to look through the eyes of the person you are trying to reach.
It has been said that a mouse only has two thoughts: Avoid cats and get cheese. I do not really know if that is true since I have never studied mice. It sounds about right, so I will go with it. Getting cheese is an important thing to a mouse. If the mouse operated under the fear of the cat only though, he would never get any cheese. He would not leave his home. He would starve to death. He realizes however, that in order to obtain the cheese he so rightly desires, he has to shift out of the fear mindset.
The way I see it there are three basic ways to stop operating under fear. Only after you have shifted out of the fear gear can you pursue your goals.
- Acknowledge that the fear is real. We all have fears. I do not always like to admit it, especially around my wife or kids, but it is true. If you ignore the fear or act like it does not exist, you will likely be paralyzed by it.
- Realize that fear is not the best way. Fear can be a motivating factor in getting started. It can motivate you to move forward. The problem is that fear only motivates you to survive. If it does not change forms into something more motivating, you will likely not take the leap forward to success. Do not get stuck in survival mode.
- Change the way you think. It is not always easy to change your thinking, but it is necessary for success. We spend a good deal of our lives being limited. We are constantly being told that we can not do something. Through all of this, it is important to stay positive. I am often tempted to say things over and over to myself like, “I will not operate under fear.” While that does not seem all that bad, it is not all that good. It would be the same as saying, “Don’t think of a pink elephant wearing giant glasses.” What are you thinking of? Did the picture in your mind resemble the picture above? I bet it did. Instead, I think the saying should be, “I am going to operate out of abundance.”
What do you fear? How can you change your thinking and speech to avoid operating under fear?
It is very exciting when you come across something that you really love. Something that you have passion for. Something that gets you excited when you wake up in the morning. It is even more exciting when you get the opportunity to do that thing for a living.
The problem for many people is they do not take the opportunity to do their passion for their career. They do not take the opportunity because they believe they are not good enough. There are many reasons why people do not think they are good enough. Sometimes it is because that is what their peers have told them. Parents and loved ones can deliver serious blows to your ego. The possibilities could go on an on.
The issue that has hindered me the most in my life is comparing myself to the other people I see. The fact is that when you really enjoy something you surround yourself with it. Growing up I always loved playing soccer. I still love playing soccer. I also like watching soccer. Now unless my kids are playing I do not stop at the local park and watch 8 year olds play soccer. I watch the world cup, major league soccer, or college soccer.
When you love something, you surround yourself with the best of it. People who like music listen to the top musicians. People love to paint look at the paintings of the best painters in the world. Chances are that you are comparing yourself to someone in the top 1% of your passion. What you are forgetting is that you know more about your passion than most of the world. You are better than the other 99%.
It is good to keep your eyes on the best. It is good to know what the best are doing. It is good to have goals that stretch you. It is NOT good to allow your eyes on the best to paralyze you into doing nothing.
Now that you know you are good enough, what are the ways that you ARE good enough?
Beta testing is when a piece of software or a website is launched, but is still under testing. If you are reading this blog, you have been launched. So, the question that remains is: Are you under testing?
It is pretty safe to say that you are always under testing. Life has a way of making sure that there are always hardships in our lives. Everybody you meet is going through some sort of difficulty. (It would help us all to remember that the next time someone cuts you off on the highway.) How you deal with the testing is the key.
Beta testing does not help if nobody knows about the beta testing. The main key to a successful beta test is for the people using the product to provide feedback. You must acknowledge the fact that you are in beta testing, or nobody will give you feedback. I was in a class the other day where we were talking about personal improvement. I asked the question if they were still doing things to increase their learning. One guy told me that he had already been through school and that his education was over. I could not believe that someone actually had that mind-set. How can you ever make a better you, if you are not acknowledging the fact that there is room for improvement?
Beta testing requires you to listen and respond. It will not profit you one little bit if you launch the beta version, acknowledge you are in beta testing, and then fuse to listen and respond to the lessons being taught. If there is a glitch in your website that keeps people from buying your product, you want to know about it. Once you find out, I would suggest fixing it immediately. It is not always easy to hear that you messed up, but it is necessary to know. Once you know, it is even more important to respond to it by adjusting and fixing the issue.
Beta testing should be a life long process. The apps on my iphone and ipad update constantly. Sometimes it takes longer than I want. Sometimes the ‘improvements’ are not that much help. Other times the new version has better features, is easier to use, functions faster, and is just better over all. The key is that they are working to be better. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.
Are you in beta testing? Do you acknowledge your need for beta testing?
In my kitchen, I have an old thermometer. It looks like it is a hundred years old (the picture below is it). It is definitely useful. I like to know what the temperature is.
Also, in my house I have a thermostat. It is more useful to me. It not only tells me the temperature, it regulates it.
So which are you, a thermostat or a thermometer?
A thermometer is always ready to tell you what is wrong. It shrieks out with its vivid red to tell you just how hot or cold it is. The issue is that it stops there. It does not give you suggestions on how to change things. It does not care if you try to make things better or not. It just gives the facts.
I have been a thermometer too many times in my life. I do not have any issues with telling people how they are wrong. I am happy to point out all of the problems there are with their ideas. It is definitely much easier to be a critic than it is to be a creator. What the world needs more of is NOT critics. The world needs more thermostats.
A thermostat, which is about the same size as a thermometer, is wired to give direction. It leads other devices in regulating the temperature in an area. It tells the furnace to pump out heat because it is too cold. It delegates authority to the air conditioner to cool the house down.
The next time you see a problem or an issue, remember these pictures. Are you going to just complain about the problem? Are you going to yell at the top of your lungs to alert everyone who can see you what the issue is? I think it will be much more profitable to come up with a solution. Sometimes you may be able to solve the problem yourself. Sometimes you may need to seek counsel for help. Other times you may be able to delegate the solution to a competent person around you.
The key is that you are willing to implement the change necessary.
What are some ways you can be a thermostat?
Successful people only use common sense principles to obtain their success. I have heard it a million times. In fact, I have said it a few times myself. “There is no way that guy is successful, I’m smarter than him.
I heard Ivan Misner say, “Success in the uncommon application of common knowledge.” I have found that to be true in recent years. I used to think there is no way I could <insert anything you want to do in here>. The truth is, I can do most anything I want to do. You can too. All it takes is applying the basic principles that even my seven year old knows.
That sounds so easy. I know there are still going to be obstacles. There are still going to be times where it may seem impossible. It is easier to be critical than successful. However, in just a few easy steps, you can accomplish most anything you want.
- Break down the task into several easy steps. I had a goal to have a blog. It seemed to be impossible to do, because I wanted it to be as good as Michael Hyatt’s blog. What I did not realize at first was that Michael Hyatt’s blog was not as good when he started it, as it is now. So I broke the process down into easy to accomplish tasks. (buy a domain, set up a blue host account, install wordpress, create a wordpress account, and start writing stuff)
- Do NOT fear failure. “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.” It is the ultimate goal to do things great, but the first time you do anything it will be bad. Just look at a child learning to walk for the first time. That kid is going to fall, a lot.
- Schedule time. The only things that will get done in your day, are things that are scheduled. If you do not set time aside to do the things you need to do, you will end up watching a marathon of The Mentalist on TV. (I may have done this one before?!) It doesn’t matter how much time you have. Use what you have to the fullest. You will not regret it.
- DO IT! Nike has this part right. Now it is time to just start knocking things off the task list. Do one task at a time. Only think in long range goals during the planning process. Once you move to the DO IT! stage, just think in terms of getting the next thing done.
Everyday, I am making a conscience effort to move forward, and get better. I want you to do the same thing. I know that the goals that you have, can be accomplished. Now get out there and DO IT!
Have you ever thought you were smarter than successful people? What are the things that they do that you should be doing?