Tuesday, June 16, 2009

“If it is to be it is up to me!”


Have you heard of the rather unique funeral they had in an office in New York some years ago?

As all the employees of that firm trooped in to work on a Monday morning, they were greeted by a rather solemn-looking notice at the entrance. On it was written the following: “The person who was responsible for inhibiting you growth died yesterday. The body has been placed in the cafeteria, till 2 pm today.”

Sad to see a colleague pass away – and intrigued as to who that person might be - the employees trooped into the cafeteria to pay their last respects. There was a crowd inside. ‘Who is this chap who has been hindering our growth?’ they wondered as they walked up to the coffin to look at the person inside. One by one, as each person took a look inside the coffin, there was shocked silence. Almost disbelief.

Inside the coffin was a mirror. And below it was a placard on which was written: “There’s only one person who can set limits to your growth. And that’s YOU.”

That’s a message we would all do well to remember. When we find ourselves falling short of the successes we think we deserve, we often blame our bosses, our employers, the industry, or the current favourite – the economy. Everyone and everything in fact, except ourselves. For things to change in your life, you don’t need to change your job or your company or your town. You only need to change yourself.

Starting today, adopt a new philosophy for your life. Take charge. Of your own life. Tell yourself: “If it is to be it is up to me!” It is not often that you can get a set of ten two-letter words to form one whole sentence. A sentence which has the power to become a life-changing philosophy for you, for me and for all of us: “If it is to be, it is up to me!” Just say it to yourself, believe in it, and see the difference.

When you are not doing well at sales, missing your targets, what do you do? Blame it on the boss! Or the lousy territory you have. Or Competition. Or the current top-of-the-charts: the recession! Now when you blame it on any of these factors, you will find yourself helpless in solving the problem. You wait… for the boss to change. Or the territory, or the competition or the economy. None of which is in your hands, really.

Resist the temptation to blame some one else for it. When you do that, you shift the power to change away from yourself, onto someone else. You weaken yourself. But if you were to take the onus on yourself, you would ask yourself “What can I do to sell more?” Make more calls? Improve the sales presentation? Work an extra hour every day? Ask for references from customers? By taking charge, you empower yourself to change your fortunes. And that one act – taking charge of your destiny – is really the difference between winners and losers.

Have you ever seen sailing boats wander into the sea? They all take off from one place, the same jetty, around the same time, and yet reach different shores. Why is that? The winds are the same. The currents are the same too for all the boats. Yet they reach different destinations. Because where the boat will reach is determined not by the direction of the wind, but by the set of the sail.

So to reach your goals, its important to set your sails properly. Get your philosophy right. And don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Need new skills? Invest in training yourself – and don’t wait for your employer to do it. I find it somewhat puzzling that while young people spend money on their clothes, and new cell phones and the monthly visit to the beauty salon, they want the company to spend on training them, on making them better employees, smarter people.

Take control of your life. Starting today. And on the mirror in your bathroom, stick the ten word message to yourself: “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

(This piece first appeared in the April issue of Careers360. Check out www.careers360.in Better still, pick up a copy from the news stand! )