“You must take personal responsibility…you can change
yourself.” (–Jim Rohn)
Success Principle #1—Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life. The book starts out strong and clear: “…(T)he one lesson this whole book is based on–…there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That person is you.” (The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield & J. Switzer)
As I read this first chapter I was gauging how I felt about its premise. How can it be true that a person is 100% responsible for their life?? What about someone who contracts cancer? What about a teenager growing up in an abusive home?? However, as I read further the core message was clarified. The point is that we have 100% responsibility for the Quality of our life, for the outcome of the events in our lives.
I developed scoliosis as a teenager and eventually had most of my spine fused. I had previously been taking ballet lessons, but gave it up because it was impossible for me to arch my back and it was difficult to balance with such an off-center spine. I was depressed and discouraged. Then, in college I took a tap dancing class; I also learned to swing dance and to waltz. I had wonderful experiences with dance. Although I was not responsible for contracting scoliosis, I did have 100% control about my reaction to it.
In the book, Jack Canfield talks about a California earthquake that he experienced years ago. The devastation resulted in a main highway being damaged and traffic was forced to travel smaller roads and detours which created major traffic gridlock. Canfield watched on TV as a news reporter interviewed drivers in the standing still traffic. The reporter asked one driver what he thought of the situation. The driver retorted angrily that he hated California and the earthquakes and fires; he knew he was going to be late for work no matter what time he departed in the morning, he was seething with rage.
The reporter went to the car behind this one and asked the second driver the same question. This driver was smiling and said that it wasn’t a problem; he had lots of music to listen to, a foreign language course on audio, his cell phone, a thermos of coffee, some snacks. He left his home at 5 am and knew that his boss would completely understand his lateness. He even brought a book to read. He said with a smile, “I’m fine.”
You can’t change the event in your life, but you can change your response and then control the outcome. Canfield says that “you have always had the power to make things different, to produce the desired outcome.” He points out that for some reason people choose not to use that power; the reasons are many–fear, lack of awareness, the need to feel safe, ignorance. The reason doesn’t matter; that is the past. Choose now to be 100% responsible for your life experience.
His point is to give up blaming, excuses and victim stories. Give them up forever. “If you don’t like your outcomes change your responses.”
Whew. That is just the first few pages of Chapter One. Strong stuff—it has been enlightening already.