I have found in my own life and through the observation of others, recognizable behaviors between the successful individual and the individual that just exists. Let’s consider success in general as the achievement and accomplishment of ones goals and objectives regardless of the endeavor assuming a favorable one of course.
There are two very different types of people we encounter in life: the individual who things happen to; and, the individual who happens to things. Can you guess which of the two are successful? Can you guess which of the two types live on purpose? The first lives with the belief that their actions determine their success; the latter is the victim whether consciously or subconsciously. If this challenges your beliefs or borders on testing your worldview, then so far I myself have succeeded.
Leading and living on purpose
You most certainly do not have to be in a leadership role to be successful. However, this posting is targeted toward leaders as after all this is a blog about leadership but is also applicable in any area of life. You no doubt encounter other leaders throughout the day and know of individuals who are or were considered great leaders in their time. I assure you that if you investigate their lives a common trait you will find of all great leaders is purpose. The truly great leader is an individual of determination, resoluteness, and focus; they are very intentional day in and out.
You do have a choice
We effectively make hundreds of choices every day as our brains are wired to quickly locate repetition and flip the autopilot switch on. This is a good thing as who would want an inefficient brain. The choice I speak of is one you must, at least at first, begin to consciously make by choosing every day to either actively manage your circumstances or be defined by them. Those defined by their circumstances are the victims and quite frankly we have allowed or worse yet created a culture that breeds this type of behavior.
Those with a victim mentality tend to use the word “they” more often than not in addition to using phrases such as, “the little man just can’t get ahead”; “I’m just surviving”; “If they would just stop…”; or my favorite, “it’s not my fault”. Excuses, irresponsibility, feeling powerless, blame, and habitually referring to the infamous “they” as the root of all that is wrong in their life are those individuals that things just happen to.
Have you already begun formulating your arguments similar to: “yes, but if this or that had happened to you” or “yes, but they did [fill in the blank] to me” or “yes, but it is their fault I didn’t get [fill in the blank]”. If the answer is yes, then let that be a warning that you may have some victim thinking happening. Let me provide you with a few quick examples of successful individuals who were not defined by their circumstances:
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
- Thomas Edison was told that he was “too stupid to learn anything” and also made 1,000 attempts at inventing the light bulb before finally succeeding
- The Wright Brothers struggled with depression, family illness, and years of failed prototypes before they finally created a plane that would stay in the air
- Abraham Lincoln had numerous failures in business in addition to be defeated several times before he finally won public office
- Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television not once, but three times
How to live on purpose – assuming that you intend to of course
We can close this post out on a positive note in that the truth is you can live your life on purpose. You can be a leader that happens to things and the most difficult task will be choosing new behaviors. Allow the word PURPOSE in the acrostic below be your guide:
Put victim thinking aside: thoughts matter as all behavior begins with a thought. Take control of your thoughts and your behaviors will follow. Start by just taking notice of your thoughts and comments. Challenge any negative thinking that removes you from the driver’s seat.
Unpack the baggage: we all have pain of the past, hurt, bitterness, anger, and resentment at some level. You can’t live your life on purpose or truly lead anyone while weighed down by baggage. Who do you need to forgive and what do you need to let go of; really?
Resolve to succeed: Set out each day with a winning attitude. Exercise, listen to encouraging music, or perform whatever ritual you need to start the day right. Be very intentional about each activity throughout the day.
Pay attention to positive people: We all encounter those individuals that bring joy in our lives and literally seem to be wired with nothing but happy thoughts. It takes a lot to get them side tracked and they most certainly do not engage in negative behaviors. Get to know them and surround yourself with these individuals.
Organize your life: You can live on purpose by creating a plan for then working the plan. Don’t allow others to dictate your time and activities. Take control of your day, week, month, and year setting goals with realistic timelines. Even achieving the smallest of goals can make all the difference.
See the successful outcome: a visual image of achieving success is one of the most important steps to take. Forget how insurmountable the odds may seem and ignore the naysayers. Focus that energy where it belongs and take action now.
Encourage others: amazingly, when you set out to give or do that which you are lacking things begin to change. Stop engaging in the downward spiral of negative talk at home, work, school, or wherever and choose to say at least one positive thing to everyone you encounter.
You won’t accomplish this in a day nor will you change behaviors overnight. There will be times of frustration so allow room for this and move forward as tomorrow is always a new day.