A very wise person in my life (thank you, Liz King) shared with me something I carry with me as a mantra: “You only have control over three things in your life; they are your ABC’s. Your Attitude, your Behavior, and your Choices.”
At dinner with friends and colleagues one night recently, I listened as one individual complained about how things had not turned out the way he had hoped, how he had always tried to do the ‘right things’ and he still was not where he thought he’d be at this point in this life. This commentary created an avalanche of conversation among the rest of the folks…..funny, most everyone fell ‘short’ in where they thought they would be or ‘should be’ at this stage in their lives. The ‘could of, would of, should of’ discussion took over the dinner table.
Let’s be honest, this conversation is not unique to this evening – we have all heard it many times over the years; however, I do think everyone is more ‘raw on reality’ given the increased sense of competition and ‘outdoing the Jones’ which is rampant in our world today; and the recent plunge in the global economy and stock market, which only makes matters worse. The ground does feel as if it is shifting. Our world is changing. That fact is a constant.
Yet, often, we refuse to let go.
We want that promotion. We want another child. We want to retire by age 55. We want at least what our parents had. We want our ‘plans’ to come through. We want ‘progress’, yet we want the stability of what we ‘know’. Need I go on?
Let’s not be confused, I am all for having dreams – after all, aspiring toward our goals, visions of success, and how to optimally contribute is what it is all about. What I am suggesting, though, is that when tides shift letting go can create unexpected opportunities. We are often just too stubborn or scared to let go of our rigid plans or expectations, or we are too blind to see that a new door is already open for us. Ironically, the new opportunity may be even bigger, better and brighter than the path we were already on. Yet, we get stuck in a victim mentality of what is happening ‘to us’, we wallow in ‘what isn’t’ – and refuse to take back the reins on our lives. We have all been there – some just decide to stay at that party longer than others.
There is a marvelous book written by colleague, David Emerald, called The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic). In his book, David offers a wonderfully wise fable which simply discusses the victim mentality we have all been tempted to succumb to; and how to shift this to a mentality of creating our own reality.How to ‘let go’ of limiting patterns and beliefs, and open the door to our unique destination. I loved this book, as it really helped me to realize – I own my life. No one is doing this to me – I am doing it for myself.
That is it. We don’t control anyone else’s – only ours. We have to ‘let go’ of those things we can’t change – and change the things we can – our ABC’s. It may sound a little like Pollyanna (or from what I am told, a 12 step program). However, to be fair isn’t it often the simplest truths which provide us the sagest guidance? It has certainly helped me let go and begin creating and being in the life I want to live.
One final point, as our nation enters into another political transition, we will collectively and individually be asked to consider letting go of certain philosophies – on all sides of the partisan equation.
We may be faced with situations we never thought we would have to face. There will be layoffs, career changes, health insurance scenarios, house foreclosures, and lives facing shifting tides. We will be called to stand tall and strong. We will undoubtedly be walking through new doors. We will not be in control over many of these dynamics. What we will have control over will be our individual attitudes, behaviors – and the choices we make in our lives.
I believe, that realization is more than enough to weather and thrive in this shifting tide; and open our eyes to unexpected doors of opportunity.