I decided to interrupt the three part series on fear in honor of my recent birthday last week. Upon turning 28 I decided to take measure of the things I had achieved on the 27th year of my life. There are a few of the things I came up with:
Skied across the second largest icecap in the world (the final moments of which are documented in the video above. I was not aware of how pathetic I looked after 28 days)
Crossed the 1 year anniversary with my wife
Started two businesses
Quit from the last job of my life
Became fully self employed
Had my first speaking engagement that got me started on my life as a public speaker
In addition to this list, there were other achievements, and other failures as well. I then sat down on the night before my 28th birthday and wrote down all the things I planned on accomplishing this year. I planned out how I would make this year better than the last. No matter how much I had succeeded or failed the previous year, I put that all behind me and looked forward with excitement to the next year of my life.
I remembered a quote I had read from Ludwig Wittgenstein that said, “Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.”
I had no intention of “dying in my sleep” on my 28th year.
No matter how the last year, last week or even the last day of your life went, THE PAST DOES NOT EQUAL THE FUTURE! No matter what anyone else tells you, you are not a product of your past. Your destiny is not determined by the choices you have made up to the moment you read this line. Your destiny is a result of what you do now!
Unfortunately, we live in a culture of blame and victimization. More often than not, I hear people blame someone or something else for the results in their lives. The fact of the matter is that the current state of the economy does not determine whether or not you succeed. Who wins the election has no impact on your ability to be successful. The only thing that matters is you!
Victimizing ourselves and blaming an external force robs us of our power. Yet, it is the very fear of that power that keeps us, as a culture, entrenched in this state of victimization. Stephen Covey, in his amazing book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, said “if we’ve taken shelter over the years in explaining our situation and problems in the name of past or present circumstances, it is truly terrifying to think otherwise. Suddenly, there is no excuse.”
Imagine, for a minute, your life if you were to let go of this “excuse.” What would become possible if you took responsibility for everything around you? If you were at cause of your world instead of at the effect of it?
Victor Frankl, as Austrian psychiatrist, spent three years living in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. His wife, mother and brother were all taken from him and killed by the Nazis. Forced to endure unimaginable suffering himself, he persevered by empowering his only freedom.
In his best selling book that documents his experiences in hell, Man’s Search for Meaning, he wrote, “The last of human freedoms – the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Everything can be taken from you, as was taken from Victor Frankl, but you will always have the freedom to choose your own way. That is our only freedom.
Stephen Covey reiterates this sentiment in his book: “The power of choice means that we are not merely a product of our past or of our genes; we are not a product of how other people treat us. They unquestionably influence us, but they do not determine us. We are self-determining through our choices. If we have given away our present to the past, do we need to give away our future also?”
Yesterday is over. Now you get to choose what the rest of your life looks like. That power is within each and every one of us. Empower that ability to choose and nothing is impossible.
What will you do today and from this day forward with your only freedom?