Today's post is a reprise of a piece I wrote a few years ago after I returned from a series of lectures and seminars to entrepreneurs that focused on one of my very favorite topics - Personal Responsibility. The other day I was asked by a friend, who is a pretty famous public speaker, if I would give her permission to add this piece to her handout material on an upcoming lecture tour. Of course I said "yes".
During my speaking tour I challenged my audiences in ways that most speakers would happily avoid. In the dialogues we really mixed it up by focusing on the "modern" behaviors versus those of the intrepid pioneers who forged this continent with dreams of a better life. The media reports of the impact of my talks generated an entire plethora of responses, many from folks who were not even at the events. It was pretty interesting.
I wrote the piece as a bit of relief for myself from the myriad on individuals who felt it their right to share their "victimhood" as an excuse for not taking "personal responsibility" for their life experience. I expect you'll have some feedback from:
Shame On You! - Your Ancestors Would Be Shocked.For many of us Europeans, North America, (United States and Canada) held the promise of many early generations of immigrants who uprooted their families, gathered their meager packages, and set out on unsteady crafts to follow a dream of freedom and a better life.
These intrepid souls entered this land primarily through the ports of New York and Montreal. They arrived to no fanfare, no homes, no jobs, little to no money, no welfare system, no food-banks, no social security, no health care system, no organized school system, few prospects, fewer friends, but with one magnificent promise, they were free.
Today, in the 21st Century, if these folks of long ago were to see what we have become, they would drown in their tears.
For all of the technical advances that positively affect our lives, we are turning into a fearful, racist, bigoted, whining, whinnying, and sad example of humanity. Praying and wishing to discover that one safe, sure thing that will pay us hundreds of thousands of dollars per year while we sit around on our rotund posteriors.
This entitled generation of North Americans, for the most part, will decry and sully the efforts of those few who hold the ideals of the founding residents of this amazing land. They will criticize, condemn, judge, and try to shame anyone who breaks free of the mass mentality to build their individual dream, carve their own path, and create their own future.
We no longer celebrate our heroes, welcome the downtrodden, and acknowledge the bravery of those who seek better lives. Instead, we waste this magnificent thing called our “self” by medicating it with television, manufactured news, self-perpetuating media, drugs, instant gratification, and the most addictive, our self-righteousness.
While sucking up our next sugar-laden coke, and chomping down the next burger that’s on sale, we sit in judgment of the few spirited entrepreneurs who commit their energies to offering the one thing that everybody needs to progress, hope. These great folks who study their business, learn the craft, drop the idiot box, and venture into the “lions den” of collective mediocrity to offer their adventure, should be hailed as today’s heroes.
The founding generations of North Americans understood clearly what “risk” was, they counted on it, for it kept them sharp and alert. They knew that to grow great crops not only did they have to plant at the right time in prepared soil; they had to find it first. They journeyed, often for months, to find a place to settle. First thing then they had to do was find the materials to build a shelter, find food, and a way to cook and preserve it. Then they had to fashion many of the instruments they would need to prepare the land for planting, wait for the exact right time, and then lay in the precious seeds they carried with them. While waiting for harvest they had to contend with intruders, all manner of bugs, weeds and weather.
Finally after all the traveling, preparation, work and care, they harvested the riches of their efforts. Celebration time, commonly known as “Thanksgiving”.
These days however, a whole new story emerges. After being educated to be a good employee, our current citizen celebrates with a six-pack and a pizza delivered by a six dollar an hour immigrant. They watch the tube to get “informed” by one of five companies that own the entire media world, and then they switch channels to “relax” by watching some violence filled programming that numbs them into the thinking that the “law” always wins. They complain bitterly about sex on T.V. all the while their kids see the violence hourly and it get perpetuated and glorified in their video games.
They bitch, moan, and complain about everything from high taxes to the price of gas, from the length of their commute, to their football teams latest defeat. This group of over three hundred and thirty million souls, only three percent of whom own a current and valid library card, bemoans the terrible fact that only 5% of them will be wealthy enough to retire at 65. They sit in front of their computers wishing and praying for a get-rich quick scheme to jump off the screen to them, and then they judge negatively anyone who is making it happen for themselves by offering a legitimate and workable financial solution to today's economic woes, it's called "work". All the while criticizing folks who steadily work their businesses on realistic, ethical and integral terms.
Oh sure, there are con artists among them, always have been, always will be, we know that. Get over it. Yes, we have all heard the stories, the tales, the scams, the letdowns, the exaggerations, and often the outright lies. And that’s just from our governments.
Wake-up North Americans, now.
Stop pretending that there is such a thing as job security. It doesn’t exist. Wake-up to the fact that it is small business owners and free-enterprisers who hold the power of the economy. Get off your assets and switch off the damn T.V. and read something you can learn from, and set a proper example for your kids and grandkids.
Quit your whining about your life, you’re only attracting the same stuff over and over again. Get your butt out there and find or develop a business that you love and get behind it full steam. Stop listening to all media, it’s all rubbish anyway.
Stop giving your power away to anyone who has a loud opinion. Opinions are a lot like bums, and both should be used for the same purpose. If you can’t control your self-righteousness, stay indoors and away from people who are working to better their lives. If you haven’t read anything on personal growth and self-improvement in the past month do not speak to anyone about your views of life.
If you are poorer than you would like to be, remember this, you got to where you are by your highest and best thinking. Should you learn nothing new, where do you suppose that thinking is going to keep you? Yes, you know exactly where you are.
You have not earned the rights your forefathers worked so incredibly hard for. Your ancestors would judge the life you are experiencing right now, regardless of your present conditions, as “luxurious”. They would take you behind the woodshed and paddle your butt severely for the state you have allowed your continent and yourself to get in. They would be shocked to their core to see the opportunities you have had, and have frittered away, by your laziness, and your attitude, and your self-righteous judgments.
And lastly on this subject, it is time for taking personal responsibility for your entire life experience. You are not owed anything. Blaming your father, your mother, your school, your first boy/girlfriend, your college, the system, your boss, the economy, the war, terrorism, 9-11, Mexican immigration, the IRS, the crowd of trough suckers in Washington, Enron, Katrina, Network Marketers, Amway, the church, or anything else that it is popular to blame, will not negate you from your own responsibility. You are not now, and never have been, a victim.
Fred Kofman in his piece titled “The Victim Virus” says, “Victims try to maintain their self-esteem by proving their innocence. Their explanations focus on factors outside their control. When something goes wrong, they delude themselves into thinking that it’s always either fate or somebody else’s fault. These explanations work as tranquilizers, helping the victim not to feel bad”. He also said, “Unlike victims. Players’ focus their attention on those factors that they can influence. Players’ self esteem is based on doing the best possible instead of appearing innocent. Players’ do not feel almighty. They understand there are external factors outside their control, but they take them as challenges, inviting their response”.
According to Don Juan, the Mexican shaman in Carlos Castaneda’s novel, “the difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that for the ordinary man everything is either a blessing or a curse. For the warrior, everything is a challenge. And challenges are neither good or bad, just challenges”.
Going from victim (ordinary man) to player (warrior) entails a change of consciousness that requires we leave behind the attachment to “being right” and stop requesting that others take charge of our problems
Get yourself out of the way of those who are working to live the pioneer spirit, the warriors; they are making it a continent worth living on. The job of the settlers, the ordinary man, is just that, settle.
For those of you who are still here, there is great hope in this land, but it has to be worked for. Do not be put down or discouraged by the nay-sayers, the critical, or the unqualified. Stay your course, read the books, take the courses, dream the dreams, make the plans, vision the future, and most of all, believe that you are just one great person, because you are.
The idiots and the lazy will attempt to pull you down, oh they’ll say, “it’s for you own protection” and they will offer up all manner of “I’ve heard” or “they say” stories to validate their position. But all you have to remember is this, if they are not entirely happy and successful themselves, they have absolutely no authority to speak to you. Completely ignore them
This is a time for pioneers to stake their claim, not in land that needs tilling and planting, but in minds that need tilling and planting, with new truths about how the world really works. This is the time for the entrepreneur, the businessperson, the reader, the thinker, and the one who believes in themselves. Trust me, it’s a small but magnificent group.
So people, think on this: Would your ancestors be proud of you and what you have made of your world? Will future generations of your family look back fondly on you and say, “I want to be just like them”.
Do not let them say, Grandpa or Grandma Who?
“The New Colossus” is a magnificent poem that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) wrote in 1883 for the Statue of Liberty. It should be on posted on the door of every entrepreneurial company in North America, and I can’t think of any better way to conclude this note.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
with conquering limbs astride from land to land;
here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”