Looking for solutions

Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you’ve got.
Jim Rohn
1930 – 2009

Recently, I was working with a businessman who was concerned about the decline in his business. My first step was to get him to list all the reasons which, in his opinion, were responsible for the downturn. He mentioned the general economy and the local economy, a new competitor nearby, his “behind the times” supplier, and the list went on and on.

When he’d finished noting all the reasons he could think of to account for the decline in business, I asked him if he noticed anything strange about the list. He spent a few minutes going over it and handed it back to me; he couldn’t find anything strange or wrong with the information. I asked him to review the list one more time. “See if you can find anything common to all those reasons,” I said.

After a few minutes, he gave up. He couldn’t identify what I wanted him to see.

I then told him to look at all those things on the list. None of them were under his control. I went on to explain that if something is not under your control, you have no power to bring about change. And since he wanted to combat the decline in his business, we would need to look for reasons that were under his control.

This tendency is one I see all the time. When something goes wrong, often the first thing we do is to look for things outside of our control. But there’s no profit in looking at things outside our control because we can’t do anything about them. If instead we look at things we can affect, then we have a chance of changing things.

If all we see are things outside our control, then we can use these factors to create excuses — which is exactly what the businessman was doing. He was creating a huge list of excuses. All he needed to do to make a positive change was to find things under his control that could provide a different outcome. I worked with him for about half an hour and we identified a number of things totally under his control that would improve his business.

Now, this advice isn’t limited to business. In our daily lives, we often do the same thing. We find lots of things that are wrong, but we tend to look beyond ourselves for reasons why they’re wrong. We can’t control things outside ourselves. Look inside. Look for things you can control. Change the things you can, and in time, you’ll change your life.

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some things are not.
Epictetus
55 – 135 A.D.

Copyright © 2019 John Chancellor

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