Winston Churchill said, "The price of greatness is responsibility." We all want to be great at something, even if it’s just talking to friends. But to be great in more areas requires us to be responsible in more areas. This means that we are the ones accountable for what’s going on. One day, as a manager, I was getting frustrated with everyone bringing me all their problems. I went to my mentor to vent, and he stopped me after the first sentence and asked, "Aren't you the one responsible? Isn't dealing with problems what you do? Step up to your responsibility!"
Wow! What a shutdown but true.
When dealing with our personal lives, we have the responsibility to govern our actions, which means dealing with our problems and issues. Freedom doesn't come if we continue to push our duties to the side. Friedrich Nietzsche said it this way, “Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves first.” True responsibility brings freedom.
3 Responsible Areas
1. Errors – It's inevitable, we all make some types of errors or mistakes daily. However, the irresponsible thing to do is to allow ourselves to live in error – continuing to practice or support the mistake we’ve made. Responsibility responds to mistakes and errors with quick confessions and sincere efforts to make things right as soon as possible, no matter the cost. This is a challenge for me, and I'm sure it is for all of us, but it is necessary if we want to live productive lives.
Accepting more responsibility calls for you to look at your messed up, accept your consequences, and work to make things right. Freedom comes by owning up to your errors not by covering them up.
2. Excuses – When we make comments like "I’m not responsible for this because..." or "I would've, but...” we could be making excuses to lighten the load for ourselves. Being responsible calls for us to know our place in what we do and then shut down the excuses we tell ourselves.
Overcoming the habit of making excuses is one that must be developed. Start by admitting the real reasons why you did or didn’t do what was needed. If you’re too lazy, too tired, or just felt like doing something else, that is the truth. Admit the real issue instead of lying about it but, keep in mind that just admitting to it doesn't necessarily take away or soften the consequences. Josiah Stamp said it this way, “It may be easy to dodge your responsibilities, but you cannot dodge the consequences of dodging your responsibilities.” Be willing to accept the consequences of what you have done without giving in to an excuse.
3. Earn – Every stage of responsibility should be earned. It’s like climbing a ladder; we can’t get to the top unless we first stand on the first step. We should not be entitled to a higher level of responsibility if we cannot master the first step. My son was asking me one day to move the car so he could play basketball, I said, "I don’t know son, you haven’t been doing too well at parking and moving the lawn mower." I wasn't telling him that he could never move the car, I was saying that you need to prove yourself more with less responsibility. His freedom was where he was; driving the lawnmower successfully. More would come as he mastered that.
If you desire more work, more trust, or more opportunities you must prove yourself on step one. If you're not moving, check yourself for signs of irresponsibility. Do you take for granted the responsibilities you have on level one? Watch how you say things like: this is boring, stupid, or a waste of my time. Work to take every opportunity as one that could bring freedom to your next level.
Summary – Accepting responsibility is a must for success in your life. The facts state that – a more challenging, fun, and a new thing will not keep you engaged in being more responsible in the long run. The things that will keep you involved in a new responsibility are your core values. Committing to a definite purpose backed by convictions like - honesty, positive attitude, respect, diligence, and self-control are key to you having long term success.
Doreen Virtue says, “Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.” Boundaries are those limits that keep us in the areas that are required for success. Believe it or not, healthy boundaries enable us to experience more of life. For example: A speed limit sign sets boundaries of what speed is needed to be safe in an area on the road. The posted limited is not set to take the fun out of driving but to guide us in having a successful arrival. Just as so, life boundaries should be in place to help us accomplish our goals with the least amount of complications. Life without boundaries can be chaotic.
1. Guide – On a tour there is often an experienced person to lead the guest through unfamiliar areas. The guide instructs the guests how to be safe and experience the most at the same time. In our lives we need a guide, someone that has the experience, to help set the boundaries for our lives. A life guider can simplify and give the reasons for needed boundaries plus direct our steps to experiencing the excitements of a successful life.
Find a guide (coach/mentor) who can help you establish boundaries for your life. Work hard to stay within the given limits and guidelines of those who have proven themselves wise. You might want to rebel but keep in mind what has been tested, tried and proven to be true might be great help to your destiny. Follow the guide!
2. Grip – Self-control comes from a root word meaning "to grip" or "take hold of". When we are willing to grip (limit) our words and actions within the boundaries set by our values and principles, we can see effective results in our lives. Benjamin Franklin said it like this, “Remember not only to say and do the right thing in the right place, but leave unsaid and undone the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Gripping is taking control of our "whole" selves. It's allowing the boundaries to keep us in the right way, at the right time, doing the right things.
Grip your desires from the temptations that conflict with your goals and values. Watch the distraction triggers that are counteractive to staying within the boundaries for your goals. These personal triggers might seem alright for the moment but have a heavy detour that can get you off task. Stay within the boundaries by gripping your mind to stay focused.
3. Govern – We only have one body; therefore, putting boundaries around our bodies’ means that we are in charge. I heard a story that reminded me of governing: Frederick the Great King of Prussia was walking on the outskirts of Berlin when he encountered a very old man proceeding in the opposite direction. "Who are you?” He asked. "I'm a king," replied the old man. "A king!" laughed Frederick. "Over what kingdom do you govern?" "Over me," he proudly replied.
Governing yourself requires constant discipline and continuous tweaking of your boundaries. Make a decision to be in control of you. It is the most effective way to live a productive life. You can be the "king" or "queen" over your life.
Summary – Life boundaries are essential to achieving a life of success. Get a reputable guider to help you focus through your life issues, grip your words and actions to match your goals and govern yourself to stay within your boundaries for success. Live a life with healthy boundaries.
A great quote says, “Everything we do is based on the choices we make. It’s not our parents, our past relationships, our job, the economy, the weather, an argument or our age that is to blame. We are responsible for every decision and every choice we make. Period!” Choices are inevitable in life. If we live, there will always be a choice to be made. So, how do we make the right or the best choice? Three things to control when faced with a tough choice.
1. Fear – Fear can dominate our choices. Fear can cause us to react before we think. However, all fear is not bad but needs to be separated with proper thoughts. Emotional fear and factual fear are the two that need to be separated. When we are emotionally fearful it could mean that we don’t fully understand what’s before us and need to gain more knowledge or understanding. When we are fearful due to facts means that we have an understanding of what the choice entails and the possible outcomes that are associated. Factual fear is what we should base our choices on.
Gather the facts and be in control over your emotional fears. When fears are controlled, your choices can be solid and sure even if the outcome is not favorable. You know you have made the best choice possible. Experiencing failure after making a wise choice is an opportunity to grow and learn from your mistakes. Push daily to make better choices than the ones you made yesterday.
2. Thinking – Making controlled choices takes place in our minds first. There we often struggle with over-thinking and over-complicating our problems. Clarity must be made between an ‘over-analysis’ and a ‘useful analysis. Let's work to make our thoughts useful.
Restrict repetitive thoughts that are not producing actions. Over-analyzing’ can be detrimental to having a productive decision. Make your thoughts useful and productive with set standards and goals. These will help you in making the best choice possible.
3. Balance - Being balanced is key to making the proper choices in every situation. An unbalanced life can teeter one of two ways: 1) allowing our feelings to rule without facts or 2) being ruled by just the facts without our feelings. Either one is not a position for success. To have the success we so desperately need we must find a balance between the two.
When working to have a balance between feelings and facts, look for a moment to contemplate. With a little time and quietness, you should be able to feel your gut instincts (feelings) and think through or research the facts. A balanced choice requires asking yourself a pro-active question: “Will the choice I’m about to make benefit everyone involved in the long run, especially me and my goals?” Be balanced in all your choices.
Summary – You can control your choices to reflect who you desire to be. Control your fears by running them through the facts, don't over-think but put your thoughts into action steps towards your goals, and balance your gut feelings and the facts to be real but solid. Make controlled choices!
An anonymous writer said, "Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell." Temptations are those inner cravings to do something that we know we shouldn't. It's a combination of our emotions, behaviors, and desires in conflict with our overarching goals and values. We are not weak or bad because we face temptations; they are a part of life. However, the problem comes when we compromise our values and believes in temporary feelings. Here are a few things to help us be successful with our temptations.
1. Prepared - We don’t overcome temptations by disregarding their existence or thinking we are too strong to yield. We overcome them by identifying them and executing a prepared plan of equal or better options. Successful soldiers are always devising a plan for the enemy. But the plans are no good without being able to properly implement them at the right time in the right way. So before they are face to face with the enemy they go through simulators to give them controlled experiences of executing the plan. We must mentally prepare ourselves for the enemy - the daily temptations we face.
Giving in to temptations is your enemy. Being prepared is necessary for overcoming your temptations. Know the details of what tempts you and then create a game plan to resist. If you give in once or twice to the temptation, don't stop trying. Learn from your mess ups. Adjust your plan and try again. It is said, "Nothing beats a failure but a try." Keep on trying. Because with each try, you are gaining strength. Know that your temptation doesn't have to be your downfall.
2. Perceptive - Normally temptations don’t just jump out of the air. Usually, they creep up on us like a virus looking for a vulnerable spot to get in. If we're not perceptive and prepared temptations willfully infected us and take us down. We must always be on the alert!
When you find yourself saying “It’s not that bad!", or "Just this once!", or "I’m not going all the way!". These are "bribe statements" that can draw you further from your goals. Yielding to temptations can take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and can cost you more than you want to pay. Overcome approaching temptations by perceiving their long-term effects in the present. Be perceptive!
3. Avoid - Tim Daniels, states that, “an effective way to overcome some temptations is not to fight but to avoid them." Temptations can get stronger when trying to fight them head-on. For example, A married man is tempted by a younger woman, who is not his wife, in the store. In this case, his best option would be to avoid the entire situation if possible. It has been said many times in the medical field that, "Prevention is the best policy!" I think that would work for dealing with temptations too.
Developing an "avoidance plan" should be your number one go to when dealing with temptations. Don't be afraid to run away from temptations that can be avoided. Be in charge of you! Don’t allow your temptations to define and make you do things that you really don’t want in your future. Learn to avoid the people, places, and things that are obvious downfalls to your goals.
Summary - Overcoming your temptations is important to improve. Work on being prepared to the best of your ability. Be perceptive by being on the alert for temptations that are out to destroy you. Go the other way when a temptation is optional. It's best to miss a little something and succeed than to get it all and fail. Combat your temptations by being pro-active in every way.
Toy Smith said, "Self-control (discipline) is the fire by which talent becomes ability". We all have the potential and capabilities needed to do great things; however, life challenges can cause us to lose focus on our abilities. To overcome this huge distraction we must execute self-control. Gordon MacDonald says that "when we are afraid of discipline we do the minimum and when we are unafraid of control (discipline) we have no problem doing the maximum". It's simple, to improve ourselves we must be willing to control ourselves.
1. Thinking – Our minds are powerful. What we think about usually becomes our reality. To get to any goal requires a directed focus with controlled thoughts. Achieving goals is almost impossible with negative thoughts. If we don't believe it, then we probably won't do it. This doesn't mean that it can never ever happen, but it does mean that our thoughts are making it impossible for it to be a reality for us.
Work on having controlled thoughts by only allowing the ones that produce success to linger around. Separate your negative thoughts from the positive ones. This doesn't mean that you ignore reality but it means that you control the thoughts you allow to develop. Be thought controlled to achieve the success you desire.
2. Emotions – We are emotional creatures, full of passions and feelings. When we get up in the morning how we feel is usually the number one concern. How we feel usually determines what we do or how well we will do it. Feelings are real, but shouldn't be the final say in what we do. John Maxwell says that we can either master our feelings or be mastered by them. To master them does not mean that we overlook them and act as if they don’t exist but it does mean that we will not allow our feelings and emotions to drive and push us to do things that we don’t want.
Put your feelings and emotions in their place by mastering (controlling) them. When you feel a certain way, think through that feeling or emotion to the end before acting on it. Ask yourself, "What would happen if I acted the way I feel or allowed this feeling to tell me what to do". If you see the outcome is not successful, push it out with positive ones. Continue to control your emotions.
3. Actions – We have heard the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words". Simply put, it’s easier to judge what is being done instead of what is being said. But we must not stop with just knowing that. We must all work at aligning our words and our actions to achieve success for our future.
Let your actions meet your verbal obligations or sentiments. Control your words. Be honest with yourself first by studying what you will be talking about before opening your mouth. If little is known, keep your mouth shut. Words are meaningless without the actions to support them but beautiful when they are supported with loving actions. Select your words wisely and remember few are needed when actions are boldly speaking.
Summary – To live a controlled life for success - think instead of reacting, process emotions instead of losing them, and act out positive desires instead of just talking about them. Don't base today's decisions on short-term feelings but on what's required for the long-term goal. Live controlled!
Our lives are like a puzzle made up of pieces from our past. But the exciting thing is we are creating new pieces every day. Our future can be shaped by what we decide to produce daily. Using our abilities to generate, create, and enhance movement towards our goals is a part of being productive. It's just a matter of focusing on being better every day than who we were yesterday. I like the way Leo Rosten put it, he said, "The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to really matter, to be productive, to be useful, and to make a difference in the world because we have lived."
3 - Tips to Productivity
1. Prioritize - Productivity is the result of intelligent planning and progressing towards our goals – not just doing more but doing the right things with the right amount of effort. Let's face it, we've all experienced setbacks with our goals. During these times it's good to look at our schedules to cut the dead weight that might be bringing stagnation to our efforts. Revaluating our priorities to make sure they are aligned with our values is a necessity for improving and moving forward.
Take 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your week. Then take five minutes at the start of the day to organize your task by - identifying the top three priorities with the length of time you desire to spend on them. Minimize your distractions by staying away from the things that lure you away. Be disciplined about producing small results towards your goals by demanding yourself to reach a certain spot before moving to something else. Remember, big goals require small goals to be identified and pursued with continuous steps in the right direction.
2. Routine - It is said that we repeat 40 percent of the same things daily. We get comfortable doing things the same way so that we don't have to "think" about it. That's not a bad thing when we put a routine into being more productive with our efforts. Success is usually developed through the assignment of certain times and days to work on specific things. Now, in reality, we know everything can't be controlled but the bulk of our schedules should have a particular structure or a routine. A system always helps us measure efforts to produce more.
Create your routine with the time you control. Make time slots for specific projects and tasks. The productivity of your goal will always be based on how much time and energy you put into it. It can help to have ways to measure your progress with a phone app or special tabs in your planner. Keeping track is a routine that can help you stay motivated as well as find those wasted moments that need filling. Work to implement a routine of continuous steps towards your goals.
3. Magnify - The Pareto Principle brings to life the 80/20 rule, that is 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort. Often our productivity is cut short because of a great mixture of goals. Many goals aren't the problem but trying to go after a lot of them at the same time is usually unproductive. We must remember, success tends to come in the areas we magnify with intentional focus, guided time, and channeled efforts.
A laser is not powerful because it controls all the light, but because it magnifies a little light to make it powerful. Magnify what you do well and your production will increase.
Summary – It is said, that a life without a plan, is a life planning to fail. Then a plan that has no action is only a passing thought. Therefore, once you have a plan, it's up to you to make it produce optimum level by prioritizing your tasks, creating a routine that builds momentum, and magnifying the intensity of your efforts. Think productive! Be productive! Live productive!