August 7th, 2011 2:09 PM by Lehel S.
The Power To Build a Life
In recent weeks I've had numerous conversations with folks who have been eager to tell me why they are powerless, stuck, frustrated, angry, confused or helpless. They've told me how life is "out of control," how bad the economy is, that their bosses are cutting budgets or for some other reason their goals are sabotaged by powers beyond their control. Above all, they've carefully explained that it's not their fault!
Now I understand we all feel some of this, some of the time.
I love the quote from Vince Lombardi that "fatigue makes cowards of us all." More than once it has given me hope or allowed me to take a break, or go home early when nothing seems to go my way. Everybody gets sick and tired once in a while. That's OK! Take a nap, have dinner, play with the kids, and come back strong in the morning.
But in recent months I've sensed something different. Some folks are getting used to being sick and tired. Some of us are getting too comfortable with the idea that life is hard, that the economy is bad, that times are tough, and they are starting to say, "there's nothing I can do about it."
I do not accept this! Because it's simply not true.
As I get older, I admit time seems to go faster and that it's only "recently" that earthquakes have devastated Haiti, Chile, New Zealand and now Japan. It seems like terrorists and unemployment and housing prices and interest rates have inflicted one trauma after another on us. And of course, crime and illness and accident are all around us. Not to mention turmoil in the Middle East and the price of gas.
What's a person to do?
Too often we get lost in the anxiety of it all.
Except. I encourage you to notice that most of the time, none of these events happen to you personally. In most cases, if they weren't on the news we wouldn't even be aware of them. I might notice the price of milk or gas going up, but inflation? How would I know? Until a few years ago riots in Libya might have been in the newspaper, but would they impact me? Probably not. Even the recent earthquake in New Zealand and the awful events in Japan would have shown up as a few stories in the paper or on television.
But now we see them 24/7, in living color, with live reports and there is a thing called "vicarious trauma." Through the magic of the media, it's as if these things are happening to each of us, in our own homes, every day. This is exhausting and it is not good!
It is vital to control what we can, beginning with our exposure to trauma! We cannot control Mother Nature, or politicians, or the economy. But fortunately we are in nearly complete and total control of our daily schedules.
I decide how to live my life! I choose my diet. I choose my friends and how to spend my time. I decide my values and to a remarkable degree, my actions determine my outcomes. If I get up early, work hard, stay focused and measure my progress by my results, most of the time things go well.
It's said we live on a small planet and that with the miracles of communication it's getting smaller every day, and in it's place, that's true. I love having friends and doing business around the world. That part is wonderful!
But human beings have always lived in small, almost tribal villages, and we still do. Most of my time is spent with a few family members and a dozen friends and colleagues. While I may "know" hundreds of people, my friends and daily contacts revolve around a village of maybe 100 familiar names and faces.
My well-being and optimism, my values and work-ethic and daily success are not determined by politicians in Washington or revolts in Egypt or events in Japan (as important as those things may be). My daily success is determined by my alarm clock, my to-do list, my use of time, and hugs from my friends. My success is determined by whether I do the things I know are useful, or whether I am distracted by the news, by gossip or by worry.
I believe it's the same for you.
Highly successful people focus on what they can control and the choices they make. They use their time and their energy to get immediate results in their own corner of the world.
They show up. They work hard. They take full responsibility for themselves, their lives, their productivity and their contributions.
Let others worry about "the economy" (that's what they're paid for). You focus on doing as much as possible by five o'clock today. Let others worry about earthquakes and revolts around the world. Let your focus be on yourself, your family, your friends and your daily work. And be grateful. We are alive, we have work to do and we have the power to make a difference. Start where you are, do well, and build on that. It's enough. (And one more suggestion: