Life is not accountable to us for meaning; we are accountable to life! – Denis Waitley
We spend so much effort struggling to change that which we cannot change; so little effort changing that which we have absolute power to change.
We rail at others who make life difficult for us. We complain about our friends, bosses, co-workers, customers, neighbors, spouses and children. They all make life so difficult for us we say – if only we could change them so they would be easier to work with. If only they would meet our needs and see things our way!
Our Struggle Against the World
It is natural to think this. One must come to the insight that this is largely a futile struggle. Other people will do what they choose to do and for the most part there is little we can do to change them. Even if we have some influence over them they will continue to think things contrary to our thoughts and do things contrary to our preference.
We also rail against the winds that blow. It may be the weather, politics, taxes, government policies, economic conditions, changing preferences and customs, even our climate. We do not want these things to behave as they do – we want them to behave the way that serves our interests.
Yet we have less influence over these external forces, the winds that blow, and then we do with the people in our lives.
Guess what? Successful people face these same problems. They are surrounded by people who do not do what they want and do not think like they think. They are buffeted by the same winds that buffet us. Yet they not only survive, they thrive. How is that possible?
It is possible because they change the one thing that they have complete and total power over – they change themselves. They adapt to the people and external forces that affect their daily lives.
Plough Around the Large Stones
Once Abraham Lincoln was asked how to deal with a particularly difficult person who was obstructing progress. Lincoln replied, as he often did, that it reminded him of a story. It was the story of the farmer who was ploughing his field and came to a large stone buried deeply in the earth. No amount of effort by the farmer could move this stone. (This was before tractors and bulldozers). So the farmer did the only sensible thing he could do – he ploughed around the stone.
It is far easier to plough around the people and forces that appear to block us from achieving what we seek to achieve then it is to change or remove these obstacles. It requires a lot less effort to change ourselves and to adapt than it does to try to change others.
Once people gain this insight and come to fully understand its power there is little that can stop them. Once we understand that we have complete power and responsibility only over ourselves – we become truly empowered.
The 2 Great Principles of Effective Change
Understanding this reveals two great principles of personal power:
1. We are only totally in control over and responsible for ourselves.
2. If we want to improve our circumstances and our chances at success we need to change ourselves.
This is an incredibly powerful insight and one which we all need to discover and act upon if we want to succeed in a world we cannot change. The most effective way to act on this is to constantly engage in a program of self-improvement.
I will not tell you that there is only one program of self-improvement that will work or that will work for everyone. We humans are too complex for that. But there are programs of improvement that have worked time and again for most people. It involves constant self-examination, constant learning, and constant adaptation.
A thousand years ago a person could live an entire lifetime in the same village, with the same few hundred people, and with technology and social conditions that never changed. That world is long gone. The people with whom we must interact are numbered in the millions. The conditions under which we function and the technologies we use change daily. The only way to cope with and succeed in this constantly changing world is to constantly improve yourself.
If this seems daunting it should not. It is really an adventure. The more you learn and the more you become the richer life becomes. Your insight increases, your understanding increases. Only those willing to change, adapt and improve themselves will thrive in this world.
Embark on a Life-Long Adventure
The wonderful thing is that the means to do this are constantly at our finger tips. Our libraries and bookstores are full of thousands of books that will teach you new skills, new languages, and new approaches. The internet provides an amazing source of videos, text and other media that will teach you new things and help you adapt. All you have to do is decide to work on yourself and then take action – read and listen and learn – and never stop. You never arrive. You never are totally finished. This is an exciting lifelong adventure – to be more and do more and have more of what is really important to you.
Maybe it is time to stop wasting your time and effort trying to change others or complain about the weather. Maybe it is time to change yourself.
Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you’ve got. – Jim Rohn
Wishing you success and prosperity,
Daniel R. Murphy
Helping People Learn to Build Wealth
Daniel R. Murphy
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.