Day 5. Your Problem isn’t Your Circumstance

By 20 Sep ’13Blog

My life would be a lot better if I didn’t have to suffer so much. I mean, my parents didn’t treat me well, so I didn’t get raised right. On top of that, we live in a society that’s trying to lock you up, they are the problem, you know what I mean?

-Inmate, Kent County Correctional Facility

I divide my time between a lot of different settings. I’m a dad, husband, business owner and am very active with the church. Every week is different, but equally exciting. For instance, this week I met with a local entrepreneurial team to develop an offsite plan to craft a strategy for their next few years of business. A few days before, I signed up a new coaching client. Another day I helped a single mom across town fix her kids bikes and I even spent some time a few days ago up at one of our local jails helping teach a basic life skills class. I give you my schedule to try to help paint a picture that I see some diverse activity every week.

This week, at the jail, one of the inmates in my class (quoted above) pointed out how he believed all his problems were outside of himself. He blamed parents, society, other people etc…for his problems. The other inmates started murmuring when they heard him carry on for a while. They didn’t buy it.

Hearing this guy go on made me think of an illustration that goes like this: a married man meets a married woman by the copy machine at work. They are attracted to each other and engage in an extra-marital affair. What’s the problem? Is it the copy machine?

As ridiculous as this sounds, this is what everyone does all the time. We blame our problems on a circumstance. The reality, however, is that the circumstance merely provided an occasion to display the problem. It would sound silly to blame the copy machine for the affair. In the same way, it would be silly to blame your circumstance for the reason you aren’t moving forward on your goal.

What circumstance have you found yourself in? Spend some time meditating on what this circumstance is revealing about you. If you can’t figure it out on your own, ask a wise friend for their perspective. Once you’ve identified what your circumstance is revealing about you, write what you learned out like this.

“My circumstance has revealed this about me. I will change this by doing x on x date.” If you need help actually doing it, ask a friend via email, phone call or text to help remind you.

If your circumstance has revealed that you are a bad communicator, change this by getting a good book on communication and reading it. If your circumstance reveals that you don’t know as much as you thought about leadership, find a leader that’s amazing, ask him what he would do in your circumstance. If your circumstance has revealed that you’re interpersonal skills need improvement, find a resource to help you improve there.

Your circumstance has revealed something about you. What is it? After you’ve identified that, take action to improve in that area and then congratulate yourself – you’ve just made an important move forward.

This is day five of an exercise I’m engaging in called, 40 days of action, how to generate momentum on your most important goals. If you’d like to read the original blog, click here. If you’d like to participate in 40 days of action, click here to email me.