It's so easy today to get dragged down by all the negativity and darkness hanging over us like an ominous cloud. The economy. Unemployment. Terrorism. High gas prices. I could fill up a blog with bad news. But a recent post by ABA Journal blogger Patrick J. Lamb
(The New Normal
) started me thinking ...
I could just as easily fill up a blog with good news as I could with bad. Sure, I might have to look a little deeper for it, work a little harder to find it. Good news usually doesn't make the headlines. But it's out there. Even in the midst of all the stress, worry, and negativity, people all around us are pulling themselves up, opening their minds to new ideas and possibilities, taking advantage of the opportunities that are out there, and doing amazing things--and if they can do it, so can you.
Lamb says, "This world's situation is what it is. Each of us has a personal situation that is what it is too. Whining about it will never change it. So for each of us, the question is: What are you going to do about your personal situation? About the world's?"
Lamb's point is that our lives are filled with endless possibilities. We just have to open our minds to see them. This means making smart choices. For example, we can choose to look on the bright side or the dark side. We can choose to act or to react or to sit by and watch life pass us by. And in everything we do every day, we have a choice to make. Are we going to be great? Or are we going to be mediocre? This applies to anything we do--from window washer to sales person to parent to manager to housemaker to CEO. And it's never too early to learn how powerful our ability to make choices is.
A while back, my daughter was disappointed in a part she got in a play. She wasn't the "leaf on the tree at the end of the second act" as my friend and fellow drama mama loves to say, but to my daughter, it was close. It turned into a great teaching moment. We talked about how she had a choice. She could mope around on the stage and be green with envy of the girl that got the part she wanted, or she could dive into the group experience and be the best darn "leaf on the tree in the second act" that ever graced the stage. In the end, she embraced the part, turned it into something she enjoyed, became good friends with the girl who got the part she wanted, and most importantly learned from the experience. It's our own personal "when the world hands you lemons (or what you think to be lemons), make lemonade" story.
And that's the point of Lamb's piece, and the piece by Seth Godin, The Chance of a Lifetime, that inspired it. Why not choose to be great? Why not wake up every morning and ask yourself what you are going to do today that is different and better than yesterday? Why not open your eyes to the endless possibilities that exist when you make a commitment to live the life you dream of living?
Godin notes, "The thing is, we still live in a world that's filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity--we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing."
Is this easy? No. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes practice. It takes determination. It takes a different mindset. But living a positive, action-oriented life brings us much more than it takes out of us. So if you decide to go for it, ask yourself, as Lamb suggests, these six questions frequently.
- Why am I doing what I'm doing?
- How can I do what I do every day even better?
- If I was starting out with a perfectly clean computer screen, how would I design what I'm doing?
- What are the "endless possibilities" I can envision today about my life, my career, my company?
- What can I do to make my clients' lives better? (Or my family's or friends' lives better?)
- Why am I not doing it?
Lamb ends his post by saying that he keeps a framed copy of his favorite quote from George Bernard Shaw in his office: Some men see things as they are and say why--I dream things that never were and say why not.
So why not start today and ask yourself, why not? The possibilities really are endless.
© 2012 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
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Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout
(Prometheus Books, 2011).