When Patricia and I took our newborn daughter home from the hospital, we got to the house, put her on the kitchen table, looked at each other and asked, “What do we do now?” We were first-time parents and, sure, we had a notion of what needed to be done, but we had never done this before. We paused there for a minute or two and I said, “Let’s go out to dinner.” So we picked up the car seat carrier, baby in tow, and we were off.
It’s now more than thirteen years later, and we haven’t stopped. We are very comfortable being parents now, but there is always something new that comes up and challenges us to think about the proper course of action. But the key has been that from that first day we brought her home, we always moved forward and never became paralyzed by the unknown. I realize this is probably a pretty common occurrence with new parents, but it’s also not unlike any decisions that are faced every single day in your job and other areas of life.
Many times, especially in the business world, fear of failure paralyzes folks and prevents them from achieving or excelling in their position. Responsibility causes people to fall into a “prevent defense” type of strategy where they are more caught up in protecting what they have than trusting their ability to go out and make things better. In football, the prevent defense quite often prevents you from winning; it is no different in life. I am not suggesting that you go out and be reckless with your decision making, just that trusting your ability and making resolute decisions is the course of action you should always be considering.
I often hear how people are unhappy in their jobs, management doesn’t get it, and that they need a new gig. The problem is that when they get that new opportunity and after the new car smell wears off, they are spouting out the same complaints about their new job. So, is the problem with the job or the person’s attitude? If you are unhappy with the job you are in, you have to break out and do one of two things: make it better or move on to the next gig. But before you pack up your desk, you have an obligation to yourself to make an honest run at succeeding in your current role. I have heard folks say, “They don’t care about me or the job I do, so I will just coast till I find something better.” Anyone who makes this statement is fooling themselves.
You may be employed by another, but make no mistake, you always work for you. Your efforts and hard work may impact your company and others, but your efforts are always a reflection of you. The slacker in the cube next to you may claim he’s coasting because the job sucks, but he’s coasting because he’s either lazy or in fear of actually doing something and having to take responsibility for doing so. There is a reason people jump from job to job. There’s a reason why the resume is padded with one-year stints at this organization or that company. The reason is not the job; it’s the attitude of the employee.
That first night home with our daughter, Patricia and I chose to live as we always had and not to get paralyzed. We went to our favorite restaurant, Angelo’s, and our daughter slept in her car seat carrier though the entire meal. When she was six months old, we took her to Bermuda and ate at fine restaurants. You could see the horror on folks’ faces as they entered the restaurant to see a baby sitting next to them. After the meal, they would all come over to say how wonderful she was and that she was such a good baby. To this day, we dine out with our kids all the time and don’t let the concept of having kids stop us from enjoying how we live our life. Many other parents claim we are lucky and that they could never take their kids to restaurants at a young age. There are always exceptions, but I question if they allowed the failure to occur.
Success is in your hands and yours alone. You control your ability to achieve; it’s how you handle it. There are no easy ways out or shortcuts. It’s hard work and taking decisive action. Whether it is at your job or in your life, don’t let others or the situation control you. Take the bull by the horns and Go Do.