Where in your life do you spend your time and energy focused on trying to get other people to change, rather than challenging and changing yourself?
In December of 2017, we headed up to the Catskills in New York. It’s not exactly the right direction to travel from Maryland during that time of year, but I figured some time with a new friend trumped warm weather. I also didn’t fully understand just how cold it gets up there.
The first few days I bundled up—wool socks, down coat, triple hat, and hand warmers. You name it, I had it on. Anything to get in nature, and… move! It took fifteen minutes to get everything on, and I lasted about fifteen minutes.
By day four, I succumb to the freezing temperatures, grabbed a hot cup of tea and kicked back on the comfy couch with a blanket. The cabin thankfully had floor-to-ceiling windows, making it easy to enjoy watching the beautiful wildlife trample by.
Still, I wanted to be out there with them, exploring the land… and, moving. I could only do so many laps around this little cabin!
Irritated, I sat there staring at the little space heater that magically kept the entire cabin warm and thought to myself, what if I took this heater outside?
I know—crazy idea, but not my craziest!
Then I realized the ridiculousness of that thought and found myself wondering what other areas of my life I do that—put the heater outside, metaphorically speaking.
Where in my life do I spend my time and energy focused on trying to get other people to change, rather than challenging and changing myself?
While self-honesty is a good thing, it can also be quite daunting!
It was entirely too easy to find dozens of situations throughout my life where I’d wasted precious energy focused on other people, or outside circumstances, rather than adjusting my perspective, learning and advancing my own skills.
Of course, it can be challenging to see it’s your own perspective that needs adjusting, especially when your energy is focused on getting other people to do things the way you think they should.
It’s too easy to focus on the actions or inactions of other people, and way more challenging to look at what you may need to do differently to get a different result.
And yet, the most efficient use of energy happens as a result of confining it to the smallest space possible—within yourself.
By testing out new ideas, beliefs and actions, you get better results.
As I was sitting there contemplating energy efficiency, I looked across the room and saw, for the first time, a neatly folded up treadmill. I didn’t even know treadmills folded up like that! A simple shift in focus helped me see a resource that had been there all along.
Imagine the number of goldmines you could be missing by (often unknowingly) focusing your energy on others. Perhaps even more importantly, imagine the improved results you will get when you bring your space heater (energy/attention) inside.
When you go first—focus your energy on developing yourself—your actions or inactions will inspire others to do the same.
This is the best and highest use of energy, whether in freezing weather or challenging life and work circumstances. The idea reminds me of one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes—
“Don’t ask for less problems. Ask for more wisdom. Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
Said another way—Don’t ask for better employees, bosses, supervisors, colleagues, you name it. Instead, consider asking for better tools for bringing out the best in the ones you have. Provoking greatness is, in fact, an inside out job.
Here’s to your greatness,