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"Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions." -- Steven R. Covey
First things, first.
I’m currently re-reading a book that had a huge impact on me, and sharing my notes along the way. You can check out the last post here.
I will be publishing at least one new newsletter each week, and it won’t always be about the book I’m reading. Make sure you follow along by subscribing.
I was 18 when I found out I was going to be a dad, and 19 when my son was born. Sometime between these two events, someone gave me a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey. I read it, and it catapulted my immature mind into adulthood.
At 20, I quit my job waiting tables to sell land and commercial real estate full-time.
At 21, I bought a house for my family.
At 22, the real estate market crashed, and I was at risk of losing my house. I took the worst job I had ever worked, but also learned the most about sales that I’ve ever learned.
Eventually, I went to work for a family member in the retail maintenance and construction industry, and later went on to build my company.
My life, like pretty much every person who ever lived, has been filled with ups and downs, successes and near total losses.
The quote above, the one in the subtitle of this article, is one that I fall back to all of the time. It keeps me grounded when things are going well, and it gives me hope when things are bad.
Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. (Pg. 78)
Decide how you spend your time.
It’s a simple idea.
Every human has self-awareness, the unique ability to look at ourselves as if we are someone else. Our ability to see ourselves clearly and honestly is either the enabling or the limiting factor in our capacity for self-improvement.
Because of this ability (and a few others), we are able to control our behavior.
It works like this. Something happens, and we act.
And in between the stimulus and the response, we can use our self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will, to make a decision.
All we can do is control our behavior. Everything else is out of our control.
And in this ability, we can decide what we spend our time on. Here’s a quote from the book.
Many people wait for something or someone to take care of them. But people who end up with the good jobs are the proactive ones who are solutions to problems, not problems themselves, who seize the initiative to do whatever is necessary, consistent with correct principles, to get the job done. (Pg. 83)
We can choose to either act, or be acted upon. When we choose to act, we give ourselves more control over the circumstances we find ourselves in. Take our language for example. We either choose reactive-oriented language, “I can’t,” or proactive-oriented language, “I choose.”
Ultimately, our life is the product of our choices. There is nothing that we have to do, only things we choose to do based on the outcomes we want or the consequences we want to avoid.
Direct, indirect, and no control.
So, what should we spend our time doing?
Ineffective people spend too much time on problems they cannot control. They can’t be solved. These problems should be avoided.
Similarly, indirect control problems are ones that can only be solved through influence. Things like our kids’ behavior or a co-worker’s performance.
However, direct control problems are problems we can solve by working on our habits. The more effective we are, the better we perform, and the greater our influence on others.
There is a lot to worry about that is outside of your control, but the good news is, if you open your mind to it, you will find there are so many things to work on inside of your circle of influence that you can improve your situations and achieve your goals in spite of the things that you cannot control. You have so much more autonomy than you may believe, but you have to change your personal behavior and where you choose to focus your personal actions.
Just because we can choose our actions and choose to be proactive does not mean we have control over the outcomes of those choices. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to.
Sometimes we make mistakes, and we suffer the negative consequences of those mistakes. Our tendency is to mope and whine or beat ourselves up. So, it’s important to understand that we have no control over what has already happened. We should learn from it, and then realize these problems are in the “no control” category.
I’ve already included this quote in a previous article. But it’s so important. In fact, it’s the reason I’m writing about this book. The most proactive thing we can do is to follow through on the promised we make ourselves. You should save this quote and read it daily.
The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity in those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.
It is also the essence of our growth. Through our human endowments of self-awareness and conscience, we become conscious of areas of weakness, areas for improvement, areas of talent that could be developed, areas that need to be changed or eliminated from our lives. Then, as we recognize use our imagination and independent will to act on that awareness — making promises, setting goals, and being true to them — we build the strength of character, the being, that makes possible every other positive thing in our lives.
It is here that we find two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately. We can make a promise — and keep it. Or we can set a goal — and work to achieve it. As we make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives. By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods. (Pg. 99)
I am convinced that this idea is the single most impactful contributor to self-confidence and self-esteem. Every feeling of inadequacy and despair stems from aimless wandering and a life spent reacting.
Deep down, we yearn to have dominion over the only thing we can truly control: ourselves.
I am a YouTube junkie. Lately, I’ve curated my viewing towards business and productivity education. Here’s some of my favorites stuff I’ve watched this past week.
Tricks marketers use on you. Craig Clemens gave a masterclass on marketing on My First Million. Learn why people like to feel like rebels, how expert proof influences you, and more. Check out “How I’ve sold $1 Billion in Products Online” on MFM.
My favorite comedian on SNL. Nate Bargatze hosted SNL, which is amazing to me on so many levels. His monologue was hilarious, and you should look up his specials on Netflix and Amazon Prime if you like this one. Nate Bargatze Stand-Up Monologue.
That’s it for this week. Reply back or leave a comment to let me know what you think.