My life sucks ! was the status message of a Facebook friend. I thought to myself, “Don’t we all feel that way at some point in our lives?” May be, the intensity differs, but the feeling is familiar. But on deliberating further, a question popped up in my head: Who is responsible for your feeling? Exactly who led your life to a place where it now feels like it sucks? Was it your boss, your spouse, your parents or your in-laws, your friends, your foes?
The truth is that because we lead our own lives, each one is the leader of his or her life. And successful leaders take total and complete responsibility of the situation. Like a true leader, you can take total responsibility only when you accept that you alone are accountable for what happens in your life.
Now I’m not saying that you go on a self-berating rant and start finding faults within. Blame and responsibility are not the same. Blaming is finding fault; while responsibility is responding to something that requires attention. When you take responsibility, in effect, you empower yourself to transform whatever aspect of your life that needs a active, positive change.
So what keeps us from taking responsibility? It’s our self defeating pattern of thinking. This reminds me of a recent conversation with my cousin sister, when she said something apt, “A self defeating thought is like an ant. If you don’t get rid of the first one, very soon there will be this big line of ants that you will often find difficult to get rid of.”
People regularly lie to themselves. Some of the biggest lies that have a very high negative impact are:
”I cannot do this”
Let me repeat, since you lead your life, one thing is clear: You are a leader. And a leader is one who has a commitment to produce a desired result, even if it’s considered extraordinary, given the perceived circumstances. So, by telling yourself that ‘You cannot do something’ you’re lying to the leader within and dousing the fire and passion within you.
I recently got acquainted with a young man who works with his father. He manages the business exactly the way his father did. He has some great business ideas, but he believes he cannot execute them. He keeps saying to himself that he cannot do it. What surprises me is that he has not even attempted to execute these ideas, which could be potentially huge business opportunities. Of course, this is resulting in enormous [potential] financial loss. But to me, the greater loss is that of the opportunity for his inner spirit to express itself—the loss of a chance to build his confidence and for him to prove to himself the marvels that he is capable of. For only when he allows himself to get out of his comfort zone will he discover that ‘he can do it!’
Are there any lies that you’ve been telling yourself? Every time you catch yourself saying “I cannot do this”, ask yourself, “If I could do it, how would it be?” That will give you the courage you need to go forth.
“S/he is responsible for the problems in my life”
I have a friend who blamed her older brothers for where her life was before her marriage and then blamed her husband for her life situation after marriage. From what I know, the
brothers tried their best, given their circumstances, to provide whatever possible support they could to their younger sister. And the same can be said about her husband. He too gave her all the love and luxuries that any good husband could give his wife. However, here was a young, bright and talented lady who was not ready to shoulder the responsibility of her life and continued to pass the buck.
If you shift the blame on others for any issue of your life, you also relinquish the power available to you to transform that area of your life.
“That’s not true about me”
Every executive I know claims that s/he appreciates feedback. However, when genuine feedback is provided, the person dismisses it, and instead finds fault in what the other person said. Let’s face it—this is who you are in the eyes of the person giving you the feedback.
Whether you like it or not, accept it or not, the other person believes that about you. Leadership requires self-awareness and denial is one of the greatest obstacles that a leader faces in becoming self-aware.
“This is who I am”
That’s great! However, authentic leadership is all about your actions being consistent with who you hold yourself to be—for yourself and for others. If this is who you are, then let your actions show it and not your words. By claiming who you are, you have managed to
attract people’s attention. But when your actions are not consistent with your declarations, you have a problem now in the way you will be perceived.
According to L. Ron Hubbard, “Livingness is going along a certain course impelled by a purpose and with some place to arrive. It consists mostly of removing barriers in the channel, holding the edges firm, ignoring the distractions and reinforcing and re-impelling one’s progress along the channel. That’s life.”
So, identify your purpose and know what is that you want to arrive at. Once that is done, stay true to that purpose, remain consistent and rid yourself of all the distractions and barriers that prevent you from getting there.
Article originally written for The Complete Wellbeing February 2013 issue.
Sameer Dua, Founder Director, Institute for Generative Leadership, India