As we grow up, we think about how our lives will end up. Even without setting specific goals, we tend to envision what things will look like for us as we grow into adulthood. The job we will choose, the place we will live, and the family we will create all take shape in our heads. Then we get to work creating that life we always dreamed of.
We hear a lot of talk about creating your destiny, building your future, and designing the life of your dreams. The reality is, no matter how hard you work, how much you build, or how creative you are, things happen that are out of your control. There are things that come up,
events that happen, and variables that change, shifting us off the course we worked so hard to get on.
While I will never dismiss the importance of dreaming, creating, designing, and building the life of your dreams, you will always need to work on how you respond to the changes that come your way. I believe your ability to respond positively and effectively is every bit as critical as any other success trait known.
According to Lou Holtz, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” If you think about it, that is so true. There are so many examples out there of super successful actors, business owners, and athletes that have stories of adversity
and despair that could have prevented them from succeeding had they just let them. There is a common component to most of the stories we hear from others on why they did not, cannot, or will not succeed… that component is excuses. Our nature, as humans, is to
make excuses, shift blame, and point fingers at things, events, and people around us to explain why we have failed.
Here is the thing that has always intrigued me… while one person is using the “whoa is me” song and dance to explain why they can’t, another person with the same exact set of circumstances is knocking it out of the park. If two people come from the same bad
neighborhood, both had abusive parents, both suffered a childhood in poverty, both had some kind of physical trauma, both had been betrayed by a loved one or business partner, both had to file bankruptcy, or both had suffered any other type of adversity, how is it that one comes out stronger and more successful, while the other is left weaker and as a failure? What is the biggest difference between success and failure in the face of the same adverse conditions? It’s response! How you respond to the adversity is what makes all the difference.
Between a stimulus and our response to it is a little window where we as humans get to choose. If five people get cut off by a reckless driver on the highway, you may see five different responses. One may get angry, another relieved, another amused, the other scared, yet the other no response at all. Same stimulus… different response.
I am a big fan of being in control of my life. But no matter how hard I try or how well I plan, events that are completely out of my control still pop up. I could use those as excuses, or I could use them as motivators. It’s powerful to know that the choice is mine.
Ask yourself why you do what you do. Then ask yourself what that would look like if you responded differently to whatever it is that you think has caused your life to look like it does.
One thing is for certain, life will not go exactly as planned. Another thing is for certain, how you respond to what happens in your life will absolutely determine the ultimate outcome. Be good at planning, designing, controlling, and dreaming… but be great at responding
positively and effectively when things don’t go as expected.