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You Are Your Own Best Friend

Good and bad things will happen; it's how you react to those events that makes the difference in your life.

by Ken Blanchard

In the early 1960s, after we graduated from college, a friend of mine got a job with AT&T. When he called home, his mother cried. "You're set for life!" she exclaimed.

That was our expectation then. If you got a job with a big company, you could spend your entire career with that organization. Would you be set for life today with AT&T? No, nor could you be set for life with any company. No organization can guarantee you job security anymore.

As a result, a lot of lives are in turmoil and people are feeling insecure. Is there anything you can do about that? I think there is, and it all begins inside.

Years ago I heard Larry Wilson, founder of Wilson Learning, do a session in which he talked about the "ABCs of Personal Power:"

* Activating event -- What happens to you, whether it be good or bad. You get promoted or downsized. You get praised or criticized.

* Belief system -- All the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself and other people. Hyrum Smith, founder of Franklin Quest, talks about your "belief window." That's the place from which you view the world.

* Consequence -- How you react to what happens to you. The longer you live, the more you realize that we cannot control activating events in life. Good and bad things will happen; it's how you react to those events that makes the difference in your life.

If you can't control a lot of the activating events in your life, what can you control? Your belief system.

I have seen the same thing happen to two different people, with one responding in a positive way and the other in a negative way. Consider something as simple as praising. If you praise some people, they are suspicious; they wonder what you really want from them. Other people simply feel good when you praise them; they are glad you noticed.

In the world of work, with all the downsizing, rightsizing and every type of reduction in the work force, a lot of people find themselves in tough situations. They can respond by becoming victims and blaming others, or they can accept adversity and make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed them. This is not always easy, but what other choice do they have?

Life is not much different from a game of golf. In any one round of golf, you'll get good breaks you deserve and bad breaks you don't deserve. Sometimes things will go better than you anticipated, forcing you to deal with success. Sometimes things will be worse than you anticipated, forcing you to deal with failure.

     What you focus on and what you think about are incredibly important. I learned this while working with Norman Vincent Peale. As the father of positive thinking, he knew the importance of positively programming the mind. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

As I travel around the country working with managers, I tell them I am going to bombard their belief systems. Beliefs drive behavior. As Hyrum Smith says, "Any time you're not getting what you want out of life, you must have a belief that is clouding your window." Any situation that isn't working for you is driven by a false belief.

There has never been a time when it is more important to realize that, "As a man thinketh, so he becomes." Zig Ziglar often puts it this way when he works with people: "I'm going to give you a checkup from the neck up and get rid of your stinkin' thinkin'!"

Remember, when all is said and done, you are responsible for the condition you are in. What can you do to make life work? Look at what is happening to you. If it's not working, look at your belief system and see how it affects your life. The ABCs of personal power can be the most important concept you've heard of this year; please use it.

About the author

Ken Blanchard is chairman of Blanchard Training and Development Inc. in San Diego and author, with Michael O'Connor, of Managing by Values (Berrett-Koehler, 1996).

© 1997 Blanchard Management Report, Blanchard Training and Development Inc. Telephone (800) 728-6000, ext. 5201, fax (619) 743-5030 or e-mail kblanchard@qualitydigest.com.


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