Have you ever had one of those days where you felt in complete and total control of your life?
-You wake up feeling completely rested
-The kids follow directions for the morning routine without any arguments
-You and your spouse don't argue about...anything
-No traffic on the way to work
-All of your meetings run on time, projects are completed on time, sales are made, and you leave work on time
-You get home with tons of energy - prepare a dinner that EVERYONE enjoys
-Finish off your evening getting to enjoy some leisure time with your family
Neither have I.
Sure, there are plenty of days where many things go right and I've felt as though I've had more control of what's going on around me than others, but when you boil it down, you really only have control over ONE thing in your life.
What is the one thing in your life that you can control?
It is how you respond to the things that occur in your life. Steven Covey wrote about this in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - calling out the space between the "stimulus and the response" and having the power to choose. The stimulus comes in many forms...what someone says to you, posts about you, does to you - or what you read, hear, see...etc.
There is a time in between that stimulus and your response in which you have control over. You could choose to not wait for someone to finish saying what they are saying and respond or you could wait a few minutes, hours, days - or even years to respond. You have the control over that.
Ever hear someone tell you - "that's just who I am" when they respond to something? Whether the response is positive or negative, it is not "who they are", but it is who they are choosing to be. Regardless of your past situation - you have the ability to choose how you respond and what that response will be. If you choose to respond with a positive perspective or a negative perspective, you are in complete and total control of which response comes out.
The Five Pillars of Accountability
Yes, there are and have been influences in our lives that helped shape our behaviors, but the good news is that we also have the ability to begin good habits that can reshape the behaviors that we want to improve upon (or in some cases...need to improve upon) in order to become the best version of ourselves. I tell my children all of the time - if you want to be good at anything in life, you have to practice. The five pillars of accountability can be a good start with practicing taking control of our responses so they are more productive.
1. Understand what you can and cannot control:
There is no point in dwelling on or feeling bad about the aspects of our lives that we cannot change. Our success is up to us and it IS within our control when we are purposeful on the decisions we make – letting our commitments guide our actions vs. our emotions guiding them. When you let your emotions dictate your actions, there can be some overreactions that occur. Understanding what you can control vs. what you cannot control helps you channel your emotions and ultimately, your response.
If you realize you cannot control or change something that happens to you that affects you negatively, take a few minutes to acknowledge it (to yourself) - and then tell yourself - "this is out of my control - so I'm moving on!" After that, don't dwell on it any longer. It will be a complete waste of your time and energy.
2. Learn from challenges:
We are faced with challenges every single day - you are either winning or learning from a challenge. What challenges me might not challenge you and vice versa, but we all face them. Challenges ARE within our control because we can solve for challenges (unlike the weather).
Understanding that EVERY challenge can be overcome. Some are easier than others, but they can all be overcome. By focusing on what we can learn from our challenges and how we use them to add value to the lives of others, we can turn any adversity into an advantage. When we learn from challenges, we will have better responses to future challenges because we will know that they are within our control.
3. Be committed:
Commit to yourself that you are deserving of living YOUR best life. Every single person has the opportunity to find success, be happy, and become the best version of themselves. If you let your emotions dictate your actions, you are robbing yourself (and potentially others) of unleashing your full potential.
When you are committed to becoming the best version of you, this shows through to everyone with whom you interact. They will see that you are not easily rattled, won't sway with the wind, and that you can handle anything thrown at you. This helps open doors for more honest conversations and feedback - allowing for growth in your relationships. There is always a way to solve for the issues that happen in your life, find a way to win, accomplish anything you set your mind to – when you are committed.
4. Blame vs. Responsibility:
Blaming others for the gaps in your work, your relationships, your life is one of the easiest things to do. Blame determines who is at fault for something – responsibility determines who is committed to improving something. When you blame others, you put yourself in the mode of being a victim.
Our response is up to us - we put ourselves in a better position when we don’t blame others (even if they are at fault) and we take responsibility to committing to improving the situation. If the situation involves you and someone else, figure out where you can take responsibility to improve the situation.
5. Accept Total Responsibility:
Anything we need to overcome or want to accomplish is possible for us no matter what our past or current circumstances are. Although we do not have complete control over every aspect of our lives, we can put ourselves in a position of strength when we begin by taking and accepting total responsibility for every aspect of our lives.
You have the power to do this. When you take a moment to...understand what you can and cannot control, learn from challenges, be committed, accept total responsibility for yourself without blaming others, you put yourself in the driver's seat of becoming the best version of YOU.