It's foggy outside today... so foggy that flights from Victoria have been cancelled since early this morning. Ironically, Victorians cope with fog fairly easily, but if 10 flakes of snow had fallen this morning we would be in full panic mode and schools would be closing for the day.
Over the past week, I've had multiple conversations with leaders and followers alike who are struggling with a personal fog. For whatever reason, their job, relationships or personal lives aren't as sunny and bright as they believed they would be. Without exception, they all believe that the sun is shining brighter 'over there'. While it's true that the sun might be shining brighter 'over there', I'm convinced that by the time they get there, the sun will be shining brighter somewhere else. Contrary to what they believe, there is no conspiracy against them. It's not even that they are unluckier than most. It's generally because they bring or create their own fog wherever they go. We create our own weather!
The older I get, the more I become aware that the bulk of my challenges are self-created. They come out of my decisions, my choices and my behaviors. As I look back over the course of my life, the decisions that have created the most grief for me have been made based on impulse, impatience or an intentional irresponsibility. Sometimes the challenges in my life have been created by my personal stubbornness and unwillingness to bend or yield. Inevitably those negative characteristics in my life have created fog or worse yet, thunderstorms, tornadoes and even the occasional hurricane. I can tell you it's not any fun to live through a hurricane that you've created.
In the same way that we create 'fog' in our lives, we also create the conditions for the sun to shine! Admittedly, there are things that happen that are outside of our ability to control or influence, but in the grand scheme, those are fewer than we think. Here are my thoughts on how to make the sun shine in your life.
1) Have a positive attitude. Opportunities come to those who are upbeat and have a bright outlook. John Maxwell says it this way, 'Your attitude determines your altitude'. You only fly as high as your perspective will permit you.
2) Watch your language. Eliminate negative vocabulary. Negative thinking and conversation saps life out of those around you. Stop saying things like 'I can't...', 'it's too hard' and 'impossible'. Start saying, YES we can! and soon you will see that NOTHING is impossible.
3) Adjust your focus. An important lesson that every motorcyclist learns is that the motorcycle goes where you look. The same is true with life. We generally get what we are looking for. Learn to look past the fog and see what's there.
4) Be Proactive. Do things that help your situation. Make a call. Send an email. Go beyond what is normally expected. Do the things that help your situation. It all pays dividends.
5) Create Momentum - Find a way to create a series of small 'wins'. Depending on your situation, a win might be as simple as creating a to do list that you follow through on. Accomplishing something is better than accomplishing nothing and provides momentum.
6) Stick with it. Life has more in common with a marathon than it does with a sprint. I've learned a few things about running over the past few years. The only way to be successful is stick with it. Learn to run in the sun, learn to run in the rain. The easiest thing to do is quit. The hardest thing to do is succeed. This much I know to be true. Winners never quit. Quitters never win.
7) Be Patient. The fog may not lift tomorrow, but it will lift! Speaking of lifting, the fog has dissipated. The sun is shining. Good things await!