Are external factors defining who you are?

It is really easy to let external factors define who we are.
Especially the traumatic ones.
I know, I’ve been there…

There will always be things in our lives that impact us negatively.
Some of them a lot.
And it can be really easy to become bitter or sad and live your life like that.

But here’s the important thing to understand: these external factors, especially the negative ones, they can only define us if we let them.
That’s the key to it.

No one has a perfect life.
Everyone has challenges – some big, some small.
But we all have a choice in how the challenges (and bad experiences) impact us: we can let them define who we are, or we can make a conscious decision about who we are.

We do have a choice.
But only if we exercise it.

Exercise your ability to choose for yourself.
Don’t let external factors define who you are.

Where you are born matters, but…

Where we are born has a huge impact on our future.
And the quality of our lives.

Those born in the West have a much better quality of life, and prospects, than those born elsewhere.
This is generalising of course, but by and large this is the truth for a huge portion of the population.
The majority in fact.

Warren Buffet, the legendary investor, is very clued on to this fact.
He knows that if he was born in a developing country, for instance, his future might have been very, very different.
This is where Warren Buffets’ ovarian lottery concept comes from.

And that’s just the reality.
But there’s a caveat.

Luck does play a part – the life we have isn’t entirely within our control.
But that does not mean we have no control.
We CAN do something – we can do our best.

We don’t have control over where we are born or most of the early part of our lives, but we do have the ability to change our future.
But only when we do something about it.

That is what sets the people at the top apart from the rest.
That’s how the people who make a dent in the universe do so.

If you are not where you want to be, do something about it.
Do whatever you can do.
Just start.

The “Self-Made” Myth

There’s a big myth around about the people who are at the top of their game, the best of the best.
Here’s the myth: they have all done it on their own.
That’s what people generally think when they think about “self-made” people.
Rarely, if ever, is that the whole truth.
Or even the truth at all.
In fact, if you dig deep into the lives of the peak performers, people who are the best of the best, nearly always you will see a recurring pattern.
That they have a team of people behind them.
That they had help.
Having a team (including coaches) is so useful that, in the arena of competitive sports anyway, you won’t even be considered for anything unless you have a team behind you.
It’s not just useful then, but essential.
The notion is catching up, slowly but surely, and permeating other fields and professions.
And that’s a great thing.
It’s about time we change this archaic notion of strength = not asking for, or getting, help.
If you have fallen into that way of thinking, understand that it is ok.
That’s an area I myself sometimes struggle with, so I know how easy it is to accept that as the truth.
But having people there for you, and with you, makes you anything but weak.
Going it alone is fine, but it is better to have people with you.
People who will help you, and push you, and accelerate your progress.
Having help does not make you weak.
Not having help does.
Learn to ask for help.

The five things you can control

Life is unpredictable.
You can’t control a lot of things.
In fact, most things in life you can’t control.

But here are 5 things you can control:
1. Your thoughts
2. Your words
3. Your choices
4. Your actions
5. Your reactions

Focus on what you can control, rather than wasting time and energy on all the things you can’t do anything about.

Worry less about the outcome, and more about doing your best

One of my favourite Star Wars quote is Yoda’s “fear of loss is a path to the dark side.”

Fear of loss is hardly ever constructive.
When you fear losing something, you become attached to that outcome or thing.
That can lead to lots of negative feelings like desperation, jealousy, and even greed.

When you are attached to an outcome or thing, it becomes very challenging (if not impossible) to make rational decisions.
Because you are too biased.
Too attached.
For you, there’s too much at stake.

Contrast this to outcomes you have no attachment to.
Even if it didn’t end up as hoped, it wouldn’t bother you.
You can make the best decisions, without any bias compromising your thoughts, reasoning, and actions.

The path to growth and success is laden with many setbacks.
If you become too attached to the outcomes, it will be that much more difficult for you to keep going anytime you hit the wall.

Learn how to be less fearful of the outcomes.
Ultimately, your fears won’t change anything – what will be will be.
All they will change is your ability to continue when things don’t work out.
Fear-based actions hardly ever lead to growth…

Resilience comes easy when you worry less about the outcome and more about doing your best.
Focus on doing your best, because that really is all you have any influence on.