I remember when I was little. I had the toughest time swallowing pills. I would put them in my mouth, drink some water, throw my head back, swallow the water…and the pills were still in my mouth.
While the whole “tough pill to swallow” thing is a bit cliche’, we can’t deny certain realities – even when we want to deny or ignore them. There are lessons life has to teach us. If we struggle to learn the lessons early on, we will find them coming back around again and again. I’ve identified ten lessons that seem to show up in my life every now and then. These are my “pills.”
Maybe you’ve had a tough time swallowing them as well…
1. Life is not fair.
Not sure where we get this idea. The good news is that life isn’t unfair either. It’s just…life. The better news is you and I get to make some choices and those choices count. It’s amazing how many people seal their fate by the choices they make. Fate has nothing to do with it. Focus on what you can do today to make a good choice, a courageous choice, a passionate choice. If you focus on fairness, you’ll only end up worrying about how unfair everything is.
2. You aren’t using your talent.
Everyone has talent (even America’s Got Talent). But it often goes unused because we’ve grown comfortable with the safety of not using it, not developing it. We’re afraid. We want it to be perfect, but that’s not possible…so we keep it hidden (or mediocre). One of the most difficult steps you can take is to embrace your own capacity for amazing. The only thing keeping you from displaying your talent is you. There are enough refrigerators in the world for us all to hang our wonderful art on.
3. You don’t accidentally get out of shape.
Unless you’re in a coma or suffer from some type of medical or genetic issue, this one is a choice. The huge majority (see what I did there) of people who are out of shape got that way because of personal decisions and behaviors. You didn’t accidentally eat two Big Macs at McDonald’s. You didn’t accidentally go all day without exercising. We all make choices. Each day, you and I get to decide if we’ll make healthy or unhealthy choices. Don’t get mad at me…I’m just the messenger.
4. Opportunity does not knock (or walk in unannounced).
Waiting for opportunity to come around is called wishing. Doing all that you can to create opportunities in your life is called working. Wishers hope somebody else will make something happen for them. Workers make something happen because they aren’t afraid to creatively engage life each and every day.
5. Change hurts.
If you try to avoid the pain of change, then you’ll become stuck doing the same thing over and over again. Maturity requires change. The pain of change can teach us and transform us into better people. But only if we make it do that. Difficulties can be life-enhancing or life-destroying. We choose. We’re inspired by those who have faced the pain of difficulty and grown through it because we know it’s not an easy thing to do. Easy doesn’t make you better…doing what’s necessary does.
6. You can’t get everyone to like you.
The moment you have an opinion, you’ll encounter someone with a different one. Life is full of people who will criticize you in your efforts to be your best self. If you let it get to you, you’ll dumb down your life in an effort to try and please everyone. That’s a boring and unhealthy life. Don’t make your happiness dependent on getting your name on everyone else’s approval list. It will wear you out. Spend your emotional energy on those things you can control. Make sure you have the approval of the person staring back at you in the mirror each day.
7. Your problems won’t sort themselves out.
I wrote this one for me (thanks for listening in). The craziest activity in the world (especially if you’re a leader) is waiting for problems to just sort themselves out. Consider me crazy. Problems need to be solved. If you run from, ignore, or complain about your problems they won’t go away and tend to get bigger. Problems are a fact of life. Sorting them out is our job.
8. You won’t win the lottery.
I’m offering this one with 99.9999% certainty. Get used to the idea that your financial success won’t suddenly fall into your lap through some miraculous stroke of luck. If you want to earn more money, then do what you need to do to earn it yourself. Spending money on lottery tickets is not a wise financial investment.
9. Some people won’t celebrate your success.
You just reached your goal and now you want to celebrate. But some people aren’t smiling. While most people are willing to commiserate with you in your struggle and failure, there will be some who are a little jealous or bitter by your success (because they didn’t win the lottery). I don’t have the psychology degree to explain all of the reasons. All I can say is beware their negativity and don’t let them bring you down.
10. You are the problem.
And the solution. This is the whole idea behind taking personal responsibility. If you think that your success or failure is based on what other people do, then you give up your personal power in the process. I know that bad things happen. I know that others do things that create obstacles in your journey through life. All I’m saying is that every day is an opportunity to learn and to choose. Don’t wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting necessary to make you a better person. Own that process for yourself.
Be smart. Be courageous. Be part of the solution.