Monday, September 30, 2013

Take Control of Your Life

I see it a lot.  I hear it almost every day.  "It" is people complaining about their lives and the role government, employers, "the rich", unions, banks and other people have played in making their lives the way they are.  It's sad, really.  It's sad because of two things.
  1. As I have said before, each of us is where we are in our lives because of the decisions we have made up until right now.   Period.  If I want my life to be different from this point forward I must learn to make different decisions.
  2. It overestimates the influence outside forces have over my life while underestimating the influence I have over my life.  Consider the following questions:
    1. If the party you favor comes into more political power, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    2. If employers become more of how you think they should be, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    3. If "the rich" are able to keep more (or less) of their money, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    4. If unions, banks and other people change and do things the way think they should, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
The answer to those questions is "not much."  Think about this in terms of finances.  There was a time in this country, when the tax rate on the highest income earners was greater than 50%...and 60%...and 70%...and 80%...and yes, even greater than 90%.  And, yet, people became wealthy anyway, under each of those rates.

Or, think about this:  There have been well-funded schools with a largely white, upper middle class student body that turned out well-educated graduates who were prepared for college life.  There have also been well-funded schools with largely white, upper middle class student bodies that have turned out an amazing number of poorly educated graduates who were prepared for neither college life nor life in general.  There have been both poorly funded and well funded schools that had student bodies consisting almost exclusively of truly poor minorities that produced well-educated graduates who excelled academically, not only in high school but in Ivy League universities.  Likewise, there have been those who produced poorly educated and ill-prepared graduates.

There have been people raised in horrifically dysfunctional families who eventually had healthy, happy and functional families of their own.  Likewise, their have been those from solid, stable families that turned out to be grossly dysfunctional individuals.

None of this is to downplay the influence of many factors on how a person's life turns out.  Certainly, it isn't to ignore the fact that some people will have to work much harder than others to overcome the obstacles they face. Rather, the point is that the single greatest factor is a person's choices; a person's decisions.  To give my take on an often heard quote, successful people make a firm and lifelong commitment to doing what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

The idea that your your life is the way it is because of outside influences is a trap.  If you accept it, you will remain trapped in your life, the way it is now, until you either change what you choose to believe or until you die.  This idea says that the stuff around you must change before your life can change.  It says that your life can only change when the right combination of people, events and circumstances come along.  Here's the question:  What if those people, events and circumstances don't show up?  What will you do, then?  The answer, if you continue to buy into this trap, is "not much."  However, if you choose to change what you believe about how to go about changing your life the answer to "what will you do?" becomes "whatever it takes!"

Please, take control of your life.  Make decisions that take you where you want to go.  You do not have to remain where you are.  Regardless of how your life is right now, remember this: You do not have to live that way, anymore.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Giving back

Every month I present a free workshop at our local library.  The topics vary, but they focus on helping people achieve more.  That achievement may focus on time, money, health or some other aspect of life.  For instance, the next one will deal with stress and stress reduction and management.  There is no charge for these workshops and there never will be.  The content is identical to what I share with and teach my clients. So, since this is what I do for a living, why would I offer this content for free?

I believe the information I have to share is of value to everyone, though I know that not everyone will avail themselves of it.  Some people will never be my clients simply because they cannot afford my services or because they don't recognize the value of coaching.  They need the information, anyway.  Contrary to what some have suggested ("you'll put yourself out of business doing this") it has increased my exposure and that's a good thing.  So, it has the potential to expand my practice.  But that's not the only reason I offer these free workshops.  It has to do with being part of the community.

I tell my clients that the key to their success is becoming more than they are.  I've not yet had anyone suggest that becoming more and better involves viewing other people as sources of income to be exploited.  Instead, they speak of helping others, contributing more and being part of something bigger than themselves all while benefiting their own lives as well.  I encourage them to become involved in giving back to the community in some way.  After all, they live and work here.  Why would they not want it to be a better place?

Let me suggest you do the same thing.  You don't have to host free workshops or seminars.  You might find that you prefer to help out through a local service organization.  You may participate in fundraising for a charity or cause.  Perhaps you'll quietly volunteer your services in a way that contributes without anyone ever knowing (though the word will eventually get out, trust me).  However you choose to do it, get involved.  Be a part of your community.  Help make the place you live better than it is.  That's part of making yourself better than you are.  Success isn't all about what you get out of life.  It's also about what you put into the lives of others.  So, help out.  Contribute something of yourself.  Give back.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...