Are you sitting in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat of your life? It’s a tough and revealing question that you should be able to answer honestly and quickly. If you are hesitating then you need to read on because you are complicating things.
In our increasingly complicated and fast-paced world, it is easy to lose track and feel out of control. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed with choices and feel like the world, the country, our boss or whoever is out to get us. We make these excuses to justify how we feel and the reason for us not achieving our dreams. But when we do that it means that we are a passenger in your own life.
A reality check is to think of examples of people who have been faced with incredible odds, out of their control but yet they took responsibility and dealt with them.
I have had many such examples in my life that I learned from. One of the first was a presentation I attended by Victor Vermeulen, a bright young man with the world at his feet. Then that all changed after a freak pool accident, he became paralysed from the neck down. Physically he lost almost everything except his mind, he even had to teach himself to breathe again after the accident. But instead of blaming and making excuses he accepted responsibility for his situation, was thankful for what he had and moved forward.
He tells his story in his book “The Victor Within”, “I decided that my life was worth living and I was going to make the most of it; one breath at a time and one day at a time. I’ve never been a person who gives up. I decided to fight!”
Nelson Mandela another great example of someone who not only accepted responsibility for himself but for a whole nation. He had this to say about Victor, “This remarkable young South African’s achievements against so many odds, have made us appreciate how much we can accomplish, no matter what stands in our path. His spirit, enthusiasm and courage serve as a lesson to us all.”
Another experience that I had was in April 2006, I was riding the Cape Epic, an 8-day mountain bike stage race from Knysna to Cape Town. Regarded as one of the toughest mountain biking events in the world It is the single most difficult mental and physical challenge that I have accomplished in my life. I never thought I would finish but ended up doing 4 in a row and a fifth a few years later.
I will never forget the day, Day 1 from Knysna to George 120km through the mountain forests that took us over 8 hours to finish. The day started off in the rain and got worse, after about 4 hours we were wet and cold in the middle of the Knysna forest. Crawling up muddy hills on our bikes and crashing down the other side because our brakes had worn out from the dirt and mud. On one of the downhills I was passed by a guy with one leg, he didn’t even have a prosthetic. There I was feeling exhausted, miserable and sorry for myself struggling to ride. I instantly had a reality check, imagine how tough this must be for him I thought, so what was my excuse?
It all starts deep inside you in the human spirit and in your mind. The only time your mind and spirit can be influenced is if you allow that to happen. That decision ultimately lies with you, no matter what the situation or how traumatic or complex it may be. You will never be able to control all of your current reality and what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to it.
You are Responsible
The brutal truth is that nobody else can control your mind or spirit except you and you need to take that responsibility.
This realisation is the single biggest factor that can change everything and anything in your life. It is a very simple concept that has far-reaching and life-changing consequences. For some people they have this inherently, others eventually realise, but for most, it is like exercise that will need to be done regularly and consistently through some sort of mind power intervention.
In my life experience, I eventually came to realise and accept that everything that I do is ultimately my decision. Of course, you cannot always control everything that happens to you all the time, but you can always control your reaction and decision to what happens to you. If you are always aware of this and you proactively exercise this responsibility over yourself you will start to take control of the steering wheel of your life rather than being a passenger.
Accepting responsibility is difficult because it means that you can no longer blame anyone else for your problems. The benefit, however, is that it is completely liberating. Now more than ever the opportunity to accept responsibility and drive your life is even more achievable. Thanks to the internet age of connectivity individuals are so much more empowered. Today accessing information, meeting people, making connections and learning new skills is significantly easier than ever before. As individuals, we have more power now than ever before to completely control our own destiny and impact the lives of millions of people.