“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” ~ John Lennon
Where you are right now is exactly where you’re meant to be at this point in time. But what of your future? If this moment is the starting point to your future, who really controls where you end up?
Forget about my fate, my present wasn’t always under my control. I was in high school. A kid with a chip on his shoulder, having just beat the crap out of another kid in the high school cafeteria (in a fair fight), I sat in the principle’s office awaiting my punishment when my basketball coach walked in.
What’s with the ‘me against the world’ attitude? He asked.
Way back then I couldn’t take instruction. In my teenage mind every bit of criticism that came my way was an assault on my character, always resulting in some kind of push-back. My emotions got the better of me. I wasn’t in control, though I wasn’t all bad either. I’d stick up for others, I’d take the blame for things that weren’t even completely my fault because I knew I could handle whatever shit storm resulted.
There was good and bad to this belief that everyone thought I was going to fail or somehow wanted me to fail: motivation. I wasn’t of the belief that I couldn’t control my fate, actually, the opposite. These bastards think I can’t make it, perfect, I’ll get up earlier and train harder and work when they’re sleeping. The anger, the push back, all of it still had more control over my life than I did. And as others triggered these emotions of anger I gave them power over my life, my future, and my present.
I was letting my perception of the perception others had of me control my mood and my fate and that’s just an ignorant, unproductive way to live. There is an even worse way to live, though, and that’s in a state where everyone but the man in the mirror is at fault, where no responsibility is taken and where your future can’t be in your hands because you’re too afraid to claim it.
The moment you believe that you aren’t in control of your own fate, you’re right. When you believe that you didn’t get the job because of a conspiracy against you, or that you’re not a millionaire because you weren’t born into a family of millionaires and being born into wealth is the only way to get wealth, you feed a growing lack of belief in your ability to control anything in your life.
Forget all the evidence that says otherwise, that there was just someone who was better suited for the job and maybe even knew the person hiring (yes, that’s a valid reason to get a job, who you know counts, it’s also under your control, so start meeting some important people), or that 70% of billionaires are self-made completely ruining this notion that you have to be born into wealth to obtain it. Even if 1% of billionaire’s were self-made that would be evidence that you can make a billion dollars without being born into wealth.
You are in complete control of your future. You’re in control of your emotions, your mood, and even your thoughts. You’re in control of how much you can work, how much you risk, and how much you will eventually earn. Your future, your present, the future of your family and the legacy you leave are in the hands of but one man, and that man is the goofy looking fellow staring back at you in the mirror.
When I was a wee lad I did some things right and some things wrong. For one, I didn’t have control over my emotions, so they controlled me. Finding any excuse to be motivated, however, is a great thing and something I’ve kept with me as I’ve gained control over my emotions, seeking out criticism and instruction rather than fighting it.
I’ll admit it, I used to read about a billionaire or hang out with the rich kids every now and then around where I grew up, and a part of me felt as if my fate was sealed, or that it was somehow unfair, the blessings these people have had bestowed upon them. This is a belief that many hold, and it’s a cancer. It’s a cancer that eats away at the host, preventing optimism, blinding us from the truth:
Where you are in this very moment is where you’re meant to be. This is your starting point, and you control where and how you finish.
What Can You Control?
You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. ~Jim Rohn
There are things in this world that you can’t control. Where many run into sadness and depression and a feeling of helplessness is when they fret over those things that they have no control over and release their grasp over those things that they do control, like themselves, their thoughts, and their actions.
You can’t control the markets or the mind of the man hiring you. You can’t control the weather or the ass hole driving in front of you who seems completely unable to perform a shoulder check or look in the side mirrors as he swerves from lane to lane on a mission to land someone in the hospital. You can’t control idiots, but you can look at the log in your own eye before you look at the sliver in someone else’s. You can be aware of the faults of others but control what you can, and you can control the considerable faults and weaknesses that you have, and you can strengthen them.
You have control over your degree of enthusiasm, how long you work, how much you read or watch TV. You have control over your thoughts and your words. It’s the latter two that become the most powerful.
There’s a stark difference in words spoken and mood chosen when talking to a “successful person”, someone who believes that they control their fate, and someone who believes that society controls their fate, or their boss does, or some other circumstance or thing. The man on the move is completely focused on what he can do, who he can be, and what he can accomplish.
He speaks about doing, and he does. He talks about ideas and opportunity. If you’ve ever chatted with someone who’s uber successful you’ll know what I’m talking about. They make shit happen, and its infectious. More often than not they’re also problem solvers.
I sat down for coffee a couple of months ago with a guy who sold his company during the dot com boom for over half a billion dollars. Most mediocre people I know would have rested on their laurels, rested on that lovely pile of cash, and begun the dying process. Not this guy, though. A man firmly confident in what he can control and what he can’t, he’s begun to delve into other industries and solve other problems and help a lot of people.
A few months before that I had lunch with a man in his late eighties, a guy who’d built a multi-million dollar company from scratch, who was still working and consulting and in the thick of things with his business. Sharp as a whip, still solving problems and living. As soon as we sat down and started chatting he began to help me solve problems within my own business.
This desire to solve problems, to talk about ideas can come down to control.
Those who feel that they have power over their lives are correct, as are those who feel they’re powerless.
Though we have the choice of which path to choose, many more of us are slaves to circumstance.
Many more believe that their fate was sealed that day they popped out of the womb. They believe that it’s impossible to rise to another class. Their words are complaints. They whine and cry about the state of the world, the unfairness of it, and not a single idea is released from their mouth about how to change it as they fail to take responsibility for anything in their lives. A great mind, wasted by something as simple as perception.
One will end up happy. The other sad, depressed, a failure in their eyes and likely in the eyes of others as well.
Both, however, chose to go where they end up. Just because one failed and succumbed to his ignorant ways, that doesn’t mean he didn’t put himself there. And the man who won at life, though he made have had greater opportunity and bigger breaks, created the environment where those opportunities would arise and where they could be clutched cultivated.
You can’t choose your starting point, but it is. You can’t change it either. You have it completely within your power to change where you finish, and that power isn’t enacted through thought or dreams but through action. Take the first step, today.
Who’s To Blame?
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month. ~Theodore Roosevelt
Though I was getting into fights in high school, there’s one thing that I’m proud of above all else and it’s the fact that I always took responsibility for what I’d done, even what I didn’t do. It’s something my old man taught me growing up, that if I did something wrong as a wee one, I had to fess up, even if it cost me and especially if I could get away with it if I just sat there and said nothing.
It’s called, Man up for a reason.
It’s a matter of honor, this desire to accept responsibility before we blame another. It’s the way of the man and yet the way of most men has clearly shifted to blaming others for things in their lives that they have the ability to control.
As soon as you begin to shift blame, you release control over your life and your future and hand it to whichever entity you blame for your misfortunes. Even though the truth is that you control your fate, your perception of the truth gives that control to another. When someone else is in control of your fate, your happiness becomes nearly impossible. Your value as a man is contingent on the actions of something or someone else and now you can’t live a consistently happy and meaningful life because your life is no long yours.
When you take control, even of things like blame, there’s an overwhelming sense of power. You now possess the power of your life to do what you wish and what you will. It’s liberating. It free’s you up to take credit for your mistakes and your victories. It gives you the power to live your own life on your own terms. It gives you freedom.
Happiness Starts With Responsibility
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. ~Albert Ellis
There’s a myth that happiness is something we find when we’re free from responsibility, when we’re free to act as we acted as children. A lack of responsibility for your present and your future doesn’t bring more happiness, it creates an atmosphere where you can no longer accept credit for your successes or take the blame for your failures.
No man can be happy when he’s powerless, even over something like his own fate.
Before you can live a meaningful, happy life, you have to accept responsibility for said happiness and meaning, and then start solving the problem.
Start Fighting for Your Future
You solve the problem of your happiness and meaning through experience. To know what you love, who you love, what makes you happy, and what gives you meaning, you have to live, you have to hunt your definition of success like a tiger hunts his prey.
It’s a problem that can’t be solved while also believing that you don’t hold the answer, that you can’t create the answer, or that you have no power over the answer.
If you aren’t responsible for your future or your happiness or your success, it’s impossible to achieve it.
The problem starts with a definition…
To understand how to be happy I’ve found it very helpful to define my happiness. The following exercise helps.
1. Write down in detail your perfect day if you had to live this single day for the remainder of your life over and over again.
The following questions will help:
- When do you wake up?
- Where do you wake up?
- Where do you live?
- Who do you wake up next to (if not a person you know, describe her heart, what characteristics you look for in a lady)?
- Do you have kids?
- What do you do for work and who are your clients?
- What are you worth and what have you earned?
Describe the sounds and smells that surround you as you wake up. This is your ideal future. It’s not a future devoid of work, it’s a future where you enjoy your work or who you work for and provide for and who you work with.
When you have this definition of success you can then start working on creating it.
2. The top down approach.
I’ve completed this exercise over and over for the past couple of years. It’s a definition that remains pretty constant, with only minor changes. With this as my future, I’ve begun to chip away at it in the present.
This definition effects the goals I set or the moves I make in the business world, but also personally. This definition isn’t all about money or success, but happiness and meaning.
When you have this ideal, you can take the responsibility to make it become a reality. Describe the man you are in this future existence, not just what you’ve accomplished. This personal definition is just as important, for this man will bring you the accomplishments, and it’s this man that you must chase.
3. A broad definition has to be brought down.
At the end of this exercise, define things you can do on a daily basis that make you happy and give you meaning and will bring you closer to this ideally defined life.
These are the habits that will lead to success and bring you closer to this life.
A few things I’ve adopted that will bring me closer to my ‘ideal day’:
a. Early mornings.
If I’m going to accomplish all that I want to accomplish – and that includes becoming the tougher, grittier, happier man I have set out to become – I’m going to have to get up early in the morning, before most, and start my mission. I can’t sleep in or let a moment pass. Each day must have purpose, and this purpose needs to start early.
The guy I want to be 10 years down the line has experienced a lot. He’s not ignorant to the ways of the world, nor is he scared of adventure, he craves it. His life is filled with action and stories and legends that I’ve begun to pursue, partially through travel.
c. Seeking the uncomfortable.
It’s in the uncomfortable that we grow and extend ourselves. This is facing fears but also doing what we may not like to do. It’s talking to the beautiful lady in the street instead of letting her pass you buy. It’s quitting your job and starting your own business, chasing your own dream.
Part of this is encompassed in travel. More of it is found in the day to day things we avoid simply because they force us to go beyond our zones of comfort. If something makes me uncomfortable, I usually try to tackle it.
d. Ruthless focus.
I’m happy when I accomplish things. The definition I created about my ideal day is a man who isn’t distracted, the evidence is all that he’s accomplished. You can’t become great if you’re easily distracted. You can’t reach your potential if you’re not ruthlessly focused.
A few things I’ve done during my day that help me maintain focus:
- I wake up at the same time 7 days a week.
- I have the same morning routine that usually doesn’t involve the internet.
- When I write I turn off the internet.
- I’ve relegated my web surfing and social media time to a specific time of day.
- I’ve aimed to end work at the same time everyday (something I’m still working on).
Focus, discipline, whatever word you use, will be your greatest friend in living a meaningful life. Without focus and discipline you can’t accomplish those daring goals you’ve set, nor can you take the reigns of your life and fulfill the definition of your own personal happiness.
Take the Reigns
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ignorance isn’t bliss. Happiness isn’t the absence of responsibility. True happiness needs meaning. Meaning requires that you have a purpose, that you serve something greater than your own improvement.
It’s not until you realize that you control your fate, your thoughts, and what you accomplish in life that you’ll be able to wield the power you have within. Until you realize that your future is in your hands, it won’t be.
Start by taking control of your day, your focus. Get more done on a daily basis, then extend it to other areas of your life.
It’s time you start fighting for your future.