I would’ve been on time, but I got caught in traffic.
My parents weren’t supportive, so I didn’t follow my dreams.
I’m always there for everyone else, but no one’s there for me.
He has the resources to make it because his family is rich.
I could never be that ripped. I don’t have the right genetics.
Most of the time, I’m self-absorbed. When something doesn’t go my way, I find a scape goat to blame it on. All too often, I’m so focused on my infallibility, I believe circumstances are the problem. It states in The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability:
The world’s societies suffer from the current cult of victimization because its subtle dogma holds that circumstances and other people prevent you from achieving your goals.
In 6 Reasons Why the Good Guy Wins, I describe the good guy as having endurance, and not letting hardships get in the way. The good guy doesn’t subscribe to victimization. Unlike the nice guy, the good guy has personal accountability, or people who call him out when he’s self-centered. Do you feel like you’re stuck in an unending cycle? Are you losing hope? Do you feel like your life is getting worse? These steps will eliminate the excuses keeping you from achieving your personal greatness.
1. Make friends with people who will help you recognize your faults.
Personal accountability begins with interpersonal accountability, first modeled by our parents and then hopefully by our friends. All too often we are blind. We may not recognize we’ve already fallen victim to victim mentality. Living in LA, you hear the term “enabler” all the time when it comes to addictions. Celebrities deal with this more often because they are surrounded by “yes” people. However, “yes” people are not real friends. An authentic friend will call you out so you recognize your faults. Today, I blamed traffic for being late to meet a friend, but that’s blaming circumstance. My friend pointedly said, “I’m not going to sit around and wait every time, and not do the things I need to do.” I drove an hour and we didn’t even meet! I’ll admit, I was fuming for a good part of the day, but just like building muscle involves soreness, building character involves growing pains too. I recently heard this quote: “Love doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.”
2. Admit your faults.
Have you ever been to an AA meeting? I went with a friend one time and I was blown away by the authenticity in the room. It all starts with “I am an alcoholic.” Comedy loves to poke fun at the phrase, but can you imagine standing in front of a group of people and admitting your darkest shame? It takes courage. In Alcoholics Anonymous – Big Book, a physician stated, “If you had my wife, you’d drink too.” He was blaming his circumstance. There comes a point where a man must face himself. Acceptance became the key to his problem. He finally says, “When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.” Accepting your faults is the bridge that leads the nice guy to become the good guy. It’s difficult to face yourself and recognize your inadequacies. C.S. Lewis said, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either…and in the end, despair.” Look for truth is tough because it’s usually not pretty.
3. Do something about it.
Get help. Seek counsel. It may be as simple as picking up a book. If you’re a guy, I would definitely recommend Wild at Heart Revised & Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge, but if you want to go deeper, Healing the Masculine Soul: God’s Restoration of Men to Real Manhood by Gordon Dalbey is one of the most powerful books I’ve read.
It’s best to approach problems with an all-out assault. I got great advice from friends, saw a therapist, attended group therapy, sought spiritual healing, etc. In The Oz Principle it suggests asking, “’What else can I do?’ By constantly and rigorously asking this question, you avoid slipping back down in the victim cycle…” I still need counsel. I still need help, and I’m thankful to have had some of the best mentors.
3. Get involved, and apply what you’ve learned.
True change happens within the confines of community. When I was in college, I started a chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity. Over the years, I’ve helped with Young Life, and started many men’s groups. It’s interesting, whether it’s in college or now, the one thing I’ve noticed that holds most men back is the question, “What’s in it for me?” It makes sense. Every ad on TV, every selling technique revolves around this question. However, if you want to make a lasting change in your own life, if you want to leave a legacy for others to follow, the question should be, “What can I do to give back?” Encourage others, and build them up, and you’ll find greater purpose for your own life. The world needs you. Get involved.
Before we got married, my wife and I attended a relationship bootcamp. I was amazed by how many couples came to give back. Couples who had divorce papers signed a few months before were now volunteering and providing counsel to other couples facing the same dilemmas. Some of them said they got more from helping out than actually going through the course. You can help too. Check websites, and look for organizations where you can give back. Groups like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Young Life, a local soup kitchen, etc. are a good place to start.
You have to take responsibility for your actions. If you want to take control of your life, throw out the excuses. All too often we avoid conflict and accountability. However, if you want to grow, the process for personal greatness and achievement is much like building muscle size. The purpose behind lifting is to break down muscle fibers. There’s a period of soreness, but the muscle is rebuilding and comes back larger and stronger. Take your ego out of the equation. Break it down through serving and accountability. It won’t be easy, but you will come back bigger, faster, stronger, and ready to achieve your personal greatness.