Friday, July 02, 2010

How to Stop Being a Passenger and Start Blazing a Passageway

“There’s more to life than just being a passenger.”

Amelia Earhart said that.

But she wasn’t suggesting you try to control life. Rather:

She teaches you to tackle life assertively, adventurously and ardently.

She inspires you to avoid marching to the drum of other people’s demands.

She challenges you to nominate yourself as the architect – not the victim – of your life’s course.

THAT’S THE COOL PART: The territory is yours to carve.

Here’s a set of steak knives to help you on your way.

1. Live by default – not design. I’m astounded at the percentage of people whose identity is inherited and not invented. But I guess it’s not terribly surprising, considering the price you have to pay to be in charge of your own life. Default, after all, is easier, cheaper and safer.

Unfortunately, that makes it ten times harder to put a dent in the world. My suggestion is: Stop bowing to other people’s opinions. Stop submitting to the category. Invent your own. Take an active role in the ongoing creation of your identity. Whose paint by number are you trying to draw yourself into?

2. Stop saying, “It is what it is.” Wrong. It isn’t what it is. It is what you’ve chosen it to be. It is what you’ve given yourself permission to accept. It is what you’ve allowed to exist into your life. It is what you’ve assumed you’re stuck with.

Screw “it.” I loathe the word it. “It” is a personal responsibility dodger. If you don’t like it, change it. And remember what Tony Robbins says, “The only reason you don’t have what you really want is because of the story you keep telling yourself about why you can’t have it. Is it (really) what it is?

3. Suit your temper to any circumstance. Mood doesn’t matter. Mood follows action. And situations don’t create moods – moods create situations. Your challenge is to take control of the emotional climate. Here’s how. First, recognize that you are the result of yourself, the dominant determiner of your own development and the agent of your own future. This awareness compels you to hold yourself accountable - even if you're feeling like crap.

Second, remember that if you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. It’s amazing how quickly a bad mood can dissipate with a little belly breathing. As philosophy Lieh Tzu reminds us, “To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.”

Third, revise your attitude by shifting your language. Instead of letting your emotions own you by saying, “I’m so annoyed,” try saying, “I’m noticing some frustration.” And instead of consigning yourself to a state of inequity by saying, “This is the worst week of my life!” try saying, “Until now, this week has sucked.”

Remember: You can’t afford to engage in negative thinking for more than about five minutes. The thing that causes you to overreact, owns you. How are you taking ownership of the dissatisfying aspects of your life?

4. Trust your own inner authority. Beware of becoming overly dependent on outside voices to validate your truth. If you solely appoint other people as your decision-making cabinet, your intuitive voice will stay silenced. And your best self will remain repressed.

In the book Winners Always Quit, author David Cottrell makes an important point on this issue, “People who choose to be passengers have to go where the driver is going. And they have little or no control over how fast they move ahead, and no say about whether rules are observed.”

Ultimately, you have to believe in the availability of your own answers. You have to formulate and memorialize your own decision-making system, instead of blinding accepting the yeses of people who don’t matter. Are you open to ideas from everyone, but delivering the ultimate verdict yourself?

5. Use life’s circumstances. Look. I know this unscheduled catastrophic event was not part of your nice little plan. Tough cookies. It’s time to take control of your life and find alternative means. Here’s how: First, the bravest way to face your problems is to make the decision that your problems are facing you. Tell ‘em to take a number and get in line.

Secondly, figure out what you need to become – not just what you need to do, but what you need to become – to overcome your current situation. I promise that the willingness to become what you need to become is more effective than any to-do list you could write.

And finally, ask yourself two questions: Which part of this chaos can I tame? And what is the most trivial thing I can do that would represent a baby stay toward my goal? That’s how you take control of the process. That’s how you take responsibility for your responsibilities. When was the last time the economy stayed up all night worrying about you?

6. Become the guardian of your mind. It’s one of the few things you have control over. May as well get good at it. Here’s how: First, learn to spot toxicity. Declare: “You will not infect me with your misery.” Especially to negative people whose orbit of hot trash attempts to infiltrate your reality.

Next, decide to withdraw support from destructive people. Affirm: “I’m tired of being edited by you.” Especially to insecure tossers who insist you squeeze yourself into their nice little mold of a perfect person.

And third, promote yourself to general manager of your mindspace. Avow: “I choose not to participate in the fear of the world.” Especially to poisonous mass media banditos whose sole purpose in life is to scare you into buying whatever unnecessary pseudo-luxury their advertisers vomit all over airwaves. What are you finished listening to?

REMEMBER: You always have a choice. And although you and I may never actually meet, I have this sneaking suspicion that you’ll pick the right one.

I’m confident that:

You will not be a spectator.
You will not be a bystander.
You will not be a passenger.

And you will blaze a passageway.

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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