This principle has been drummed into my consciousness for over twenty years by my long-time mentors, Andy Andrews and the late Jim Rohn. In the spirit of President Harry Truman, Andy says, “The buck stops with you.” And Jim said it best in the following:
It’s really very simple. You are where you are in life because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made. If you don’t like where you are, make different choices. You are not a slave to your past, or as Jim used to say, “You’re not a tree; you can change.” When you blame outside circumstances on your current situation, you give away your power to create positive change in your life.
Given the considerable time I’ve spent studying the wisdom of Andy and Jim, I’ve always thought I had a good understanding of and practiced the 100% responsibility principle. In fact, I will rarely blame outside circumstances for any situation I find myself in because I know that, ultimately, my choices put me there.
Further, as a fitness professional and life coach, I’ve taught on many occasions the concept of accepting 100% responsibility to my club members regarding their health. They always seem to resonate with the idea, and I feel good about passing on the wisdom I’ve gained from Andy and Jim.
Have you ever heard the statement that the teacher will appear when the student is ready? I’ve been a student of personal development since my junior year in college, which recently drove me to search for Jack Canfield’s content on YouTube. I was looking specifically for his Success Principles audiobook and was rewarded for my efforts. It was readily available, along with a goldmine of other content that Jack has produced over the years.
Oddly enough, I purchased his Success Principles about seven years ago. And while the content was excellent, I wasn’t ready to receive the message during that season of my life. In fact, I loaned the CDs to a friend and ultimately forgot about them altogether.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jack Canfield by name, you’ve probably heard of his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Jack and his coauthor Mark Victor Hanson published the original Chicken Soup over twenty-five years ago, and the series contains 276 titles to date, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide. Needless to say, Jack and Mark have done very well financially thanks to their efforts.
After listening to the introduction, I came to the first chapter, Accepting 100% Responsibility for Your Life. As I heard the words, my mind immediately went to my understanding based on what I had learned from Andy and Jim. And then I heard Jack’s definition, which raised the bar to a much higher level than what I was accustomed to. According to Jack, accepting 100% responsibility includes No Complaining, No Blaming, and No Excuses.
Wow! As I stated above, you rarely hear me blame outside circumstances or make excuses. However, when it comes to complaining, I am guilty as charged. Jack’s piercing words hit me like a brick upside my head and opened my eyes to my tendency to complain and generally have a critical spirit towards people and things I disagree with.
Now you might think, what’s the big deal about complaining, blaming, and making excuses? Well, for starters, you will repel people right and left. If there is an opposite theme to the essence of what Dale Carnegie taught in his classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” it would be to complain, blame, make excuses, and have a critical spirit.
Second, there’s no escaping the law of sowing and reaping. If you sew positivity into the world, positive things will come back to you multiplied many times. If you sew negatively, it works just the same. Further, whatever you give your time, focus, and energy to, will manifest in your life. Complaining, blaming, making excuses, and being critical are all negative and directly oppose the mindset of being thankful for the good and positive things you have.
The bottom line is that if you spend most of your time focused on what’s wrong, lacking, or any other negative in your life, you’re going to invite more of the same. If you spend your time focused on the abundance in your life and for all that you have to be thankful for, you will also attract more of the same. The choice is yours.
By the way, this is counter-cultural thinking. The masses don’t think this way, yet I hope you don’t compare yourself to the masses. It’s been said many times that if you want to be successful in any area of your life, look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite.
What about when something terrible happens, like getting into an auto accident when it clearly wasn’t your fault? Or what about something more serious, like being diagnosed with severe disease? Fortunately, Jack has an answer for this as well. He describes the concept as E + R = O or Event + Response = Outcome.
Life is hard, and it throws curve balls daily. Occasionally it throws hard balls, and sometimes you get hit. These “events” or extreme challenges can flat take the wind out of your sails, yet you always have a choice in how you respond. And that’s the secret. Bad things will always happen at some point in your life; however, you always have a choice in how you respond. History is filled with endless stories of men and women who have suffered horrific events, and yet they used their struggles as the needed fuel to drive them to the pinnacles of success.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
I’ve written about blind spots before, and everyone has them. Unless you are fortunate enough to have someone share how you may be sabotaging some area of your life, you could spend the better portion of your time shooting yourself in the foot with your repeated words and behaviors and have no idea regarding the damage your doing.
One of my early mentors, celebrated PGA teaching professional Kevin Kirk, used to say that I was a sponge for information. And this has remained true all my life. I’m just thankful for Jack Canfield and his words of wisdom that have given me yet another thing to polish about my character.
Given my natural tendency towards complaining, Jack teaches one strategy that is helping me and may benefit you. First, determine whether there’s anything you can do to change the situation. If there is, take the necessary action. If there’s nothing you can do, then simply let it go. As a believer, I choose to give these to God. Don’t allow things beyond your control to steal your joy. This may be easier said than done; however, it’s a powerful strategy to live a more peaceful and joyful life.
Also, when dealing with difficult people, for example, a coworker with whom you have to spend time together regularly, you might consider the 101% Principle from leadership expert John C. Maxwell. If you can only find one thing where you agree with an individual, give it your 100% attention and focus and let the rest go. This is a far better strategy than daily harboring bitterness towards them. As I said above, what you give out is what you will receive in return.
And finally, consider keeping a daily gratitude journal to help build a mindset of abundance and gratitude. I’ve heard about this little strategy from numerous people over the years, including Oprah; however, Jack’s prompting from his Success Principles pushed me into action. And now, after several weeks of incorporating it into my evening sleep ritual, it is bearing fruit.
One of my favorite quotes from Andy Andrews is as follows.
Keeping a gratitude journal is the living embodiment of Andy’s words and is a great habit to develop. And it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just pick up a simple little journal and spend a few minutes at the end of the day. It’s especially beneficial at the end of an otherwise challenging day because it will shift your mind and perspective back to the positive, and this is a great place to be when you turn out the lights to go to sleep.
If this short little post resonates with you, do the work needed. Remember, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is your life. And if you’re unhappy with any aspect of it, the responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders to change your circumstances for the positive.
Best of luck in your journey.