“It seems like every time we start to get caught up, something happens. If only we could get a good year or two, then we could get ahead.” I’ve heard statements like this from several leaders recently. Although I understand and empathize with the uncertainty and pain and fear they are wrestling with, I am left thinking, “so what?”
Worrying about all the outside factors causing me to lose will ultimately cause me to lose for several reasons:
1. “If onlys…” are a distraction. It’s a drain to put time, emotion, and energy into worrying about things I can’t control, or even influence. The economy, conflicts around the world, the government, the weather, changing social norms, shifting demographics, etc. are what they are. If I can change it, change it. If I can influence it, influence it. Otherwise, I can only accept it and move on OR focus on what I need to change about myself to better deal with the circumstances.
2. Regardless of where I am today, this is the only starting point I have. Things are not going to suddenly be different and the world doesn’t owe me anything. That said, I have easy access to clean water, food, shelter, medical care, and transportation. I can call up an aeon’s worth of information instantly and communicate globally on my computer. There is due process of law, minimal corruption, free education, guaranteed human rights and individual freedoms, and a democratic system that seems to work ok. People tell me how miserable the economy is, but someone is buying all those smart phones and tablet computers. Perfect? Not a bit. But I don’t have to look back too far in time or too far across a map to realize just how good I (and anyone reading this) have it. Life may get scary, uncertain, and overwhelming, but if I had to choose a place and time to be at today, I could do much, much worse.
3. If the world were easier for me it would also be easier for my competition so I wouldn’t be any further ahead. Sure, it’s easier to run downhill, but if we’re all running downhill, so what?. If you’ve ever been an endurance athlete, there is a state of mind where you take solace in knowing that if it’s difficult for you and you’re hurting, it’s at least as bad for your competition. Some even see the difficulty as a source of competitive advantage and look forward to the brutal courses and bad weather. They know that many of their competition will have mentally given up even before the start. So, as I look at my life, career, and business today, I can join in all the worry and complaining or I can accept that it’s difficult, appreciate the challenge, and smile every time I hear leaders from other companies complain because I know they are believing their own excuses and mentally handing the race to me. The worse they think they have it, the easier they make it for me.
4. I can complain about the challenges, situations, and general state of life OR I can figure out who I need to be and the skills I need to develop to get where I want to go GIVEN the challenges, situations, and general state of life.
I’m going to wrap up today with my favorite quote from Jim Rohn:
Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.