“Character is the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life. It’s the source from which self-respect springs.” – Joan Didion
“Owning actions” often brings a somber tone to it.
We can adjust that, for the better. And the quote above offers an angle on how we can do that.
Instead of carrying a “fault” theme, we can take a different lens to ownership. That of positive control.
Take for example “not getting the job”.
We can decide that we won’t own it, and say something along the lines of “the recruiter was just playing favorites”. From this point, where does one go next? Are we qualified enough, and for reasons outside of our control… we just didn’t get the job? And that if the same thing happens tomorrow, we’re doomed for a repeat?
Now let’s flip. Let’s say the same person decides they will own “not getting the job”. They decide that they want to become over-qualified. They sign up for the next course to push their accreditation to the next level, resulting in an even stronger, smarter, and more powerful candidate.
One person has control over the next step, and uses it to their advantage. One does not, and stays exactly where they are.
We owe it to ourselves to stay in the driver seat.
“People don’t fear change. People fear sudden change. People fear revolutions. People don’t fear evolutions.” – Simon Sinek
When we sit on this quote for a moment, we can draw a parallel to a recent experience.
Think back to a recent experience that was full of change. Was it uncomfortable? Of course it was.
Now take that same experience and pretend as if those changes were briefed to you on January 1st, and they steadily took place over the course of the calendar year. Would it feel different?
I think so too.
The underlying message is that we don’t fear change. We only fear the speed of change. When we are able to take a step back and see the “uncomfortableness” for what it is, we can find a stronger perspective.
Remind ourselves of this the next time change elicits that unique feeling in our stomach. For awareness, as always, is the key.
“It takes as much energy to wish, as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The term “wishful thinking” is a bit of a broken statement. It’s the creation of an elaborate vision, a goal or something we want to reach… but without a plan.
What Eleanor Roosevelt suggests in her quote is to stop day-dreaming, and bring those goals into reality through action steps. And if we can do that, we quickly remind ourselves that we are literally problem-solving-machines. Things kick into gear, and we surprise ourselves. We’ll say things like, “well, that wasn’t so bad” or “that was actually easier than I thought!”
Ever have a hard time starting to clean the house? The trick everyone knows… is to just start. To take that actual first step, and create momentum.
Let’s reinforce this in our minds: We weren’t made to wish. We were made to act.
“Give more. Give what you didn’t get. Drop the old story.” – Unknown
Self-identity is a weapon. A weapon that can be on either side of the trench.
When we think about this quote, we might be thinking of our past. And if you’re human, chances are that at some point in your life you held onto a “bad memory”. It would manifest into our daily lives in a unique way, and potentially frequently.
Every individual and experience is different, yet there is a commonality at the bottom line of all of ours… that here today, we can continue to be impacted by them.
Think about the way you think. Who is directing our lives? Will we let it be the past, or should we be the ones writing the story? It is never too late to pick up the pen.
The past does not define who we have to be today. Be the change you want to see.
“People used to tell me that business administration is for the practical life and that philosophy is for the spirit. Through the years I found it is exactly the opposite. I used philosophy much more practically.” – Herzi Halevi
Herzl Halevi, an Israeli general, recounts his foundation that he stands upon. Through the unending series of ethical decisions he has faced, in war or in peace, he used his foundation to bring prioritization, balance, and clarity.
Every single one of us will do the same, in our own unique way. We’ll choose a foundation. A core set of beliefs that form a lens we operate through.
It is important to recognize that this doesn’t happen by accident. It is a conscious choice, and a forever study, of our chosen mindset. What is your foundation?
“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” – Edmund Burke
We are emotional beings. And we can only be rational, after we’ve been emotional.
When we see someone who is composed under adversity, it’s not that they aren’t an emotional person. Those feelings are there. What’s different (compared to the explosive nature of a “hot head”) is the closing of a certain gap. That of between an emotional reaction, and the subsequent replacement of rational thought.
Abraham Lincoln exercised this understanding through his “hot letters”. When he became fuming mad at someone, he forced himself to complete a task before taking his wrath directly to the individual. He wrote a letter to the offender, outlining all the wrongs and misdoings that have been committed. He held nothing back. Then, he would fold it up, place the letter in an envelope, place it in his desk drawer, and… never send it.
Think through the last time we lost our temper on someone. Was it worth it? Emotions will cool. And we can proceed in a more reasonable fashion that we won’t regret. We just need to acknowledge that gap, and work ourselves there through patience.
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”
Although “knowledge” and “wisdom” are words often lumped into the same category, they are miles apart. The difference between the two: application.
Gaining knowledge is relatively simple. But purely gaining knowledge doesn’t change who we are. We can place a turbocharged engine under the hood, but if it’s not connected to the drivetrain, we won’t drive faster. We might even drive slower, clouding our efforts with “unusable weight”.
Wisdom on the other hand, takes effort. It takes trial, error, pain, blood, sweat, and tears. And it’s a lifelong practice.
Knowing is not half the battle. It’s not even a quarter. It’s the first 10%, if that. What we are after… knowledge in action.
When a coach gives you feedback, do you immediately try to apply what they are asking you to do? Or, do you just hear what they are saying and file it in the back of your mind with ‘things to remember later?’
As an athlete, being able to let down your ego and make a correction on command is crucial. It can immediately impact your performance or pay off greatly in the long run. Next time you get a coaching cue, see if you can make a change on the fly. If you have questions about it, have a conversation with them after.