Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking 100% Responsibility For Your Life

Meet Lisa from Merry Alchemy, a jewelry maker and member of the team from Beacon. Lisa will be sharing a running installment of different takeaways and exercises learned from her library of business improvement & life coaching/motivational books with team members and blog readers as we all look for ways to be more successful in our business.
I don’t profess to have all the answers to life and success…far from it. However, I have an insatiable appetite for self-improvement and a core desire to feel successful and happy. Therefore, I look to the experts - those who have achieved their wildest dreams, found inner peace and happiness – and written books geared towards helping others do the same. I hope you will join me in this and future blog articles as I share the ideas, strategies, resources and principles that I find and learn along my own journey to success that, in turn, I hope will help you on your journey. I do hope that you will use the comments section to share your thoughts, experiences, and wisdom that comes from your life as well as your handmade journey. Keep in mind that I’m sharing personal thoughts that I don’t normally bring to a public forum. I hope that you will feel equally comfortable to do so in the comments. I promise to always treat you with dignity and respect and I ask that you do the same for me and anyone else who contributes. That being said…

I am confessing that I have a dirty little secret. Up to now, only my close friends and family have been privy to (and have borne the brunt of) this marker of shame for me. The fact is I am a HUGE complainer. I complain about everything.

“OMG, I cannot believe how long it’s taking my computer to boot up!”
“There were so many people in the supermarket and they were ALL in my way!”
“I can’t believe the scale says I’m two pounds heavier. I only had a SMALL bowl of ice cream yesterday!”
“Why does EVERYONE else have thousands of Etsy sales and I only have 65? It’s not fair!”

Enter Jack Canfield’s book, Success Principles, which I am in the midst of reading. Perhaps you have read this book or something like it. Jack Canfield is the successful author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. This highly informative book is the closest thing to an instruction manual for becoming successful in life that I have read thus far.

Principle 1 in this book is “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life”. We create everything that happens to us. That can be hard to swallow. It means that all of my complaining has been my way of deflecting responsibility to outside circumstances. I need to stop complaining, stop making excuses, stopping being a victim, and stop blaming people and events for the things that I don’t like about me, my life or my business. Canfield suggests asking yourself the following questions when you get results that you don’t like or didn’t intend: “What did I do or not do to create that result? What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?”

Canfield presents this concept as a formula. E+R=O (Event +Responsibility = Outcome). Canfield explains that events you experience now (success, happiness, failure, illness, etc.) are direct outcomes of your earlier responses to other events in your life. So if you want your life to change for the better, you need to alter your responses to events you are experiencing in the present. For instance, if the event is that it rained during a craft fair, I should change my response so that my outcome isn’t just that my profits were dismal. What could I have done during that craft fair for a better overall outcome? I have a smart phone, so I could have renewed Etsy listings during the fair. I could have brought some tools with me and been spending that time making new items. The fact is having dismal profits at a craft fair is not the reason why I am not successful. If that were the case, then no one would be successful jewelry artists because everyone, even the most successful artisans, have experienced dismal profits at craft fairs during some point in their careers.

Understanding and internalizing this principle is one thing. Implementing it is the more difficult part. Have I banished all complaining from my life? My fiancĂ© would say, “Hell no!” But it has made me acutely aware of my dirty little secret and now I can begin the hard work of stopping myself when I do complain (believe me when I say there is a whole topic on gratitude that remains untapped here…) and, instead, ask myself what part I played in that unwanted outcome.

I welcome your comments, experiences, stories, nuggets of wisdom, etc. regarding this topic.


  1. Its a tough one... being responsible for everything!
    A good friend of mine keeps a rubber band on her wrist & whenever she feels herself getting negative she snaps the rubber band to 'snap' herself out of it.

  2. Great post! At 67 I'm still working on taking responsibility, but have seen good results as I look back over the years, and am motivated to continue paying attention.
    I met Jack Canfield at the Humor Project's conference a number of years ago where he was a keynote speaker - he's got such a great way of presenting things. Will look for this book to read and share.

  3. A great read with wise advise! Love it!

  4. This is great! I am a bit of a self-help book nerd and will definitely check out Jack Canfield’s book. I look forward to your future posts!

  5. Becky, what a great experience that must have been to meet Jack Canfield in person! He is a great writer - I can only imagine he is equally riveting, if not more so, in person.

    Meg, I love the rubber band idea. I'm going to try that.