The power of others is most evident when we get into trouble. The trouble that we create through our own foolishness, negligence or stupidity. I know you don’t want to admit it, but we’ve all experienced it. Nobody is immune.
All of us have written awful chapters in our lives. Hopefully, we didn’t make them the longest chapters of our lives. Worse yet, let’s not make them multiple chapters that end up defining our whole story. The most wasted lives in society are lives like that – lives devoted to ongoing, constant foolishness (or worse – evil and wickedness).
Most of us are guilty of youthful indiscretions and idiocy. Sometimes we weren’t so young when we did it, but if we’re surrounded by people who care about us then we can more quickly course correct. That’s why our associations are crucial for our well-being.
The wrong people can influence us to extend our worst chapter. They foster the continual writing of a bad story.
The right people can influence us to shorten our worst chapter by helping us get on with writing a much better story.
We’re responsible for our own story. This isn’t about diverting the blame onto others. It’s our life. Our story. And our decision on how we write it. And our decision on who we’ll surround ourselves with.
Being responsible means it’s up to us. It doesn’t mean it’s solely up to us. It means we can decide to silo ourselves and go it alone. Or we can decide that’s stupid and we need help.
Why struggle alone?
Lots of reasons. None of them very good. But there are reasons why we do it.
We don’t trust anybody enough to be fully candid. Or vulnerable.
We don’t think anybody can help. Or is willing to help. We think people need some special skills or knowledge to help.
We don’t want to impose on anybody.
We don’t think we need help.
But here’s the thing…when we’re struggling we may not be at our optimal self. Remaining in the struggle – going it alone – prolongs the chapter. Not likely our best chapter either.
Read any biography of a successful person and you’ll read about failures. Sometimes lots of them. Sometimes long periods of failure.
Do you feel like a challenge? I’ve tried this numerous times and the results are universally true (so far). Think of the times you’ve struggled. Times when you were failing.
Think of how you escaped it. When you found your way out and began to succeed.
Was there a person involved in your turnaround? One person who showed up at just the right time? A person who gave you a helping hand?
I’m guessing there was such a person. I’ve not yet met a person, who after just moments of sober reflection, could say they dug their way out of the abyss all alone. People tell stories of a friend, some stranger, a relative…somebody helped them get to their feet. Without that assistance, they admit their struggle would have continued. For who knows how long?
In retrospect, people tell me about the bad chapter of their life. Some had a few bad chapters. But everybody happily admits those bad chapters were not their whole story thanks to the people who provided just what they seemed to need.
I’ve never talked with a successful person – measured just about any way you’d like to measure it (financial, accomplishment, achievement) – who claims they were able to do it alone. They were able to write better chapters, to craft a better story by leveraging 3 basic behaviors:
- They figured out what they were good at (which in most cases, wound up being the things they most enjoyed doing). They devoted themselves to doing more of that.
- They were relentless in pursuing their goal. This was made possible because they figured out a goal that was congruent with their natural talent.
- They were able to move forward because somebody helped them. In some cases, they found help to achieve 1 and 2.
Better stories are always written by people who had collaborators. People who didn’t hesitate to help them. Not people who wanted to write the story for them, but people willing to help them create a better story. People willing to be part of their success.
What if we could be more intentional to craft a better story? What if we could take serious aim at writing a better chapter…after chapter…after chapter?
The goal or pursuit doesn’t matter. Whatever you want to do…it can be greatly enhanced by finding the right people willing to help. Help is all around you. There are three basic steps you can take.
- Realize there are many people capable and willing to help. This continues to be THE hurdle for most people. They disbelieve this fact. They convince themselves all those idiotic sentiments that sound so wise. Such as, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” Meanwhile, the most successful people understand that the fastest path toward a better story are people who can best help them write that story. The story they most want to write.
- Get past your fears. Whether your fears take the form of insecurities or feeling like you’re imposing…get over them. They’re in your head. They only exist because you choose to believe them. Keep telling yourself the truth: the world is full of people who will help. People who can help. Fears will prevent you from finding them. Mostly because your fears will paralyze you from even looking for them.
- Act. Make choices that are congruent with the story you most want to write. Think of yourself as the main character in the story…because you are. If it helps, think of yourself not as yourself, but as that character. Visualize what the story will be when it happens as you’d like. What’s the ending going to be? Now, work your way backward and reverse engineer the story so you can make it come true. Your character will have to do certain things and avoid doing other things if the story is going to play out the way you want. Get busy behaving in ways so that story will be YOUR story.
If you’re currently stuck in a bad chapter, don’t despair. Commit to get past it. End it. Fast. Solicit help. Or refuse and extend the chapter to last much, much longer.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!