Roger Ferguson, C.E.O of TIAA-CREF, the retirement services provider, is a huge believer in personal responsibility. So am I! The first thing I do with a new client or business is to make sure they own everything in their lives regardless of how difficult that might be. Our parents and early environment may shape who we were but what we become rests upon taking ownership of who we are, our strengths, weaknesses and all the rest. Determining to change what we don’t like and develop ourselves by constantly learning and growing is how will become what we want.
Mr. Ferguson went to Harvard and scrubbed toilets for other students as part of his student aid package. He wasn’t the least bit resentful but did the job better than anyone else. Fortunately for him his father helped instill such values as hard work and doing things well. There is little substitute for a great attitude. With passion, creativity and common sense, so much more is possible!
The New York Times Sunday Review feature article on happiness by Arthur Brooks concludes that we must learn to love people not money, power, status, or sexual pleasure. This seems pretty evident to some and yet it’s super-challenging for many in a culture addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Reality TV, and video games to name a few. The challenge with happiness is that we must cultivate good habits over long periods of time. Essentially, I teach non-avoidance, a way of living that means we live and express out truth! Wow, that’s not easy. I often tell clients that if they are ready I can teach them how to be happier and more fulfilled but it requires substantial work on their part. The majority of people I’ve coached in over two decades of working with people have quit well before they graduated. In other words, they didn’t want to work that hard.
Depending on how we were raised (conditioned) and our genetics, happiness is something we must learn and cultivate over time. In addition to avoiding nothing, I teach presence, honoring thyself, integrity, and intuition as a basis for success in life and business. Presence, for example, means a commitment to live in the here and now as much as possible. This means learning how to observe and pay attention to the mind without getting caught up in self. Again, not easy and yet like the other principles, it is a foundation for well-being!
My buddy’s wife just sent me this pic of him braving the chilly waters of southern Cal in December. Twenty years ago, as graduate students, Rob and I used to do this together! In fact, on December 11th 1995 I threw myself in the frigid San Diego waters to try to calm my nerves because that evening I had to defend my doctoral dissertation, the culmination of nearly four and a half years work. Thanks for the reminder Marla!