“Life isn’t happening to you; life is responding to you. Life is your call! Every area of your life is your call. You are the creator of your life. You are the writer of your life story. You are the director of your life movie. You decide what your life will be – by what you give out.”
― Rhonda Byrne, The Power
Do you view life as a series of events that happens to you, without your input? Or do you see it as a blank canvas, waiting for you to craft whatever artwork your creative mind can develop. The truth is that most of waltz through our days in the former. Traffic sucks, weather sucks, my job sucks, woe is me. But what if we went a few layers deeper than that?
There’s an interesting question that Tim Ferriss asks most of his podcast guests: if there was one sentence or phrase you could put on a billboard, what would it be? The answers vary – from personal philosophies to witty comments – but one answer stood out to me. Amelia Boone – world champion obstacle course racer and full-time attorney at Apple – responded: Life owes you nothing.
Did you know that the chances of you being born the way you are at this time and place is 400 trillion to one? Yes, you read that right. We have already won the ultimate lottery and been granted a massive fortune of living in a time where technology as it’s highest, daily tasks are at their easiest and – if you’re reading this on your phone or laptop, you’re likely in the top 1% of wealth in the world.
“But I have student debt.” “My job is boring.” “I should have been promoted by now.” My boss hates me.” Please, just stop.
The sooner that you understand that life is happening for you, not to you, your life will change.
Don’t believe me? Try picking up a biography of anyone that you deem successful. Anyone that has truly “made it”, that has changed the world, that has been the top of their craft understands that there are massive obstacles in life to overcome. In fact, you’ll notice that most of these people learn to appreciate the struggles and almost wear them as a badge of honor after the fact, showing pride in what they’ve accomplished.
I recently participated in an event to help my alumni, Stonehill College, send more graduates to the Bay Area. The school sent some of it’s most promising Juniors to California for a week to visit different businesses and get a feel for the opportunity. Though many of the students were impressive, two stood out. In particular, there were two cousins that grew up in Africa and immigrated as first-generation students that seemed to have a different mentality than the rest of the students.
Outside of having excellent grades, they also run a side business, making and selling t-shirts, sweatshirts and are looking to expand into a shoe line. “We just go door-to-door, dorm by dorm, selling clothes and hustling hard”, one of them told me. When I inquired further, they said “No excuses, man. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke. Some of the rich kids at school can get drunk and if they go to the hospital or get fined, it’s no big deal. We can’t take those chances, we need to make the most out of our opportunity.”
Some of us have been dealt tougher hands than others. But we all have an opportunity to make an impact and it’s take we start showing up to take advantage.
Our generation has shown a strong tendency to feel entitled and play the victim card. Sure, life can be really tough sometimes – people get sick, have financial troubles, get dumped or have a job they don’t love. In your current situation, it can seem like a heavy load on your shoulders. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a small blip on the massive timeline of your life.
In times like these, I revert back to the poem, “Invictus”, in which William Ernest Henley famously claimed, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” You’re the master. You’re the captain. Whether you succeed or fail isn’t up to your boss or your bank account or President Trump. It’s up to you.
Remember, you already defeated the 400 trillion to one odds of making it here. That’s amazing. Now, go make the most of it – or someone else will.