When I started Goat Milk Stuff, somebody recommended that I read the book, The Success Principles – How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield. I bought it, but never made the time to read it. Since today is my anniversary and I decided to be “lazy”, I figured it was a good time to finally start reading the book.
Chapter one begins as follows:
One of the most pervasive myths in the American culture today is that we are entitled to a great life – that somehow, somewhere, someone (certainly not us) is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time, and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist.
But the real truth – and the one lesson this whole book is based on – is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live.
That person is you.
If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life. This includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings – everything!
This is not easy.
What a strong start to a book! This quote in so many ways summarizes one of the main things that I try to teach my children – that the only person they can change in this life is themselves.
They can’t change my actions, they can’t change their father’s actions, and they definitely can’t change their siblings’ actions. But they can change their own actions. And even more importantly, they can change their own reactions to the events that occur around them.
Expecting someone else to create the life that they want or to do the hard work and give them what they want is an unrealistic expectation. They have to pray and work hard to achieve their desires and they have to mold and shape the events they can control so that they move toward that desired outcome.
To use my own life as an example, I wanted a family business. But I didn’t expect anyone to give it to me. I didn’t expect people to just buy my product because I wanted to support my family this way. Instead, I prayed, I worked hard, I made sacrifices, and I created an environment where we as a family could succeed. And we did succeed, and I take full responsibility for that (although not all the credit – I couldn’t have done it by myself and in my own strength).
But you know what? When we have failed, I have taken responsibility for that as well. I have learned from each time and I have adjusted. And I have tried again. And so eventually I have succeeded.
And that is what I want my children to grow up knowing. Things in life aren’t easy. And it may seem at times that forces are against them. But they just have to take responsibility for what is happening in their lives, and not blame it on others. And definitely not complain about it.
Complaining is one of the biggest things that I try to stamp out in my children (and myself). I don’t know about you, but I find that it is extremely easy for my children to complain about anything and everything. I try to teach them that complaining changes nothing and only negatively impacts their attitudes. If they can take something that they are unhappy with and channel that into a positive action/reaction on their parts, than they can learn and they can improve.
For me, I find that I don’t have any difficulty taking responsibility for my actions. What I struggle with is taking responsibility for everybody else’s actions. But I’m working on that. While I can make it easier or harder for the people in my family to make good decisions as to their behavior, they still have to own their own behavior.
And as the author of the book said, it isn’t easy.
What about you? What things in your life do you find it easy to take responsibility for? And where do you struggle?