“Choice is more than picking ‘x’ over ‘y.’ It is a responsibility to separate the meaningful and the uplifting from the trivial and the disheartening. It is the only tool we have that enables us to go from who we are today to who we want to be tomorrow.”
Sheena Iyengar (Professor, Business at Columbia Business School)
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (Former American Diplomat)
“Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is in our own power.”
Benjamin Disraeli (Former British Politician)
Shirtless, exposed, and cold.
There I was, face down on a table.
The place no one ever wants to be.
Surrounded by doctors, waiting to get a test and KNOWING I was sick.
For the longest time, I knew something was wrong.
But I kept running from it.
Now, I was forced to stop running.
After talking to multiple specialists, I was faced with the news that I would have to get a biopsy.
I was under the gun.
A biopsy gun was pressed against my lower back.
At that moment, I felt absolutely powerless.
The doctor said “Ready?” (it was rhetorical) and fired the gun.
In milliseconds, a tiny retractable bullet went through my skin and my muscles and pulled out a piece of my kidney.
Before then, I had always been the type to put my work before my health, so being forced to take a break and change my lifestyle was uncomfortable.
I was the king of the all-nighter at work.
The thought of missing more work due to sickness was what motivated me to go to the doctor in the first place.
I wanted to fight through the pain, but I also didn’t want to end up dying from work-induced stress.
I loved work, but not that much.
Now, I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I wasn’t certain of anything.
After the procedure, I became depressed.
I found out that I had a stress-induced kidney condition and started feeling sorry for myself.
This is when I started running some more…
I tried working less to reduce my stress levels.
I tried talking to my friends and family more.
I tried taking meditation, golfing, and Chinese language classes.
I even joined a book club.
Other people worked to cheer me up but I wasn’t ready.
Couldn’t they see that I was a victim of unforeseen circumstances?
Couldn’t they see that I deserved a break?
I wanted their pity.
I wanted them to see me as weak and powerless and then help me.
I thought I needed pity, but what I ended up needing was a punch in the arm.
I needed to be reminded that no matter what happened to me, I was still in control.
I still had the power to control my focus and my attitude.
Why You’re Always In Control Of Your Life
Nobody wants to hear that they’re feeling entitled.
Nobody wants to hear that they’re playing the victim.
But sometimes they need to hear it.
Especially when times are tough.
Too many people hold back saying the words others really need to hear, in an effort to protect the other person’s feelings.
They hold back saying the things that would actually help someone else change their mindset.
At the same time, the people who need this kind of tough love the most think they need to be babied.
They think they need to be handled with kid gloves.
This is a mistake.
As if having other people walk on eggshells around them will make them feel better or actually help them get better.
Of course, this never happens.
When things get bad for you or for someone else, you don’t need to be told to “let go” or to “accept your fate.”
Listening to some fool tell you “it will all be okay” or the “sun will come up tomorrow” is a mistake.
Instead, you need to tell yourself that you’re still in control.
You need to be reminded you have the power to control your focus and attitude.
A recent study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that people who went through a two-week focus training program on introspective accuracy in the domains of perception and memory experienced significant gains in their ability to look inward and examine and change their mental attitudes.
In other words, your focus, perspective, and introspective powers are malleable. They can increase significantly with focused training.
Being able to control your focus is not always easy.
There are countless times in your life when you’ll feel justified in feeling powerless.
Whether it’s because of a car accident, a lost job, or a diagnosis of a major illness, life will knock you down.
When this happens, it’s easy to give in to feelings of uncertainty.
In fact, some people will tell you to give in.
They’ll tell you to let go.
But giving in or “letting go” is the worst thing you can do.
The only way to take back your power is to realize that it never left.
You were always the one in control.
How To Be Powerful When You Feel Powerless
Putting yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life after a negative event may take time.
It may not happen overnight.
But it can happen.
You just have to get started, even if you don’t feel like it.
When you feel the most vulnerable, when you feel the most alone, it will seem like the worst time to take control of your life.
Everything inside you will say let go, give in, and stop trying.
That’s when you need to be ruthless with yourself.
That’s when you have to say “I’m in control” because you are.
You’re always in control.
You have the power to change your mindset and life at any time.
Don’t give up this power to negative people and difficult circumstances.
Instead, hold on tightly to it by taking action to improve your focus and attitude right away.
When life gets tough, get even by being even tougher.
Here are 5 strategies that will help you stop feeling weak and powerless and start taking powerful action again:
1. Get started on your own instead of waiting for help.
It’s not easy taking the first step towards a new goal.
It’s not easy to write the first page of a book, or spend the first few thousand on your own website, or develop and launch your first online product.
You will fail the first time.
There will be mistakes.
Most people know this, which is why most people never get started.
Instead, they sit around waiting to make some magical connection.
They sit around waiting for someone to help them.
This is a mistake.
Waiting is not powerful.
Begging for help is not strength.
Having the guts to go out and fail, on the other hand, is strong.
Taking risks all on your own, without looking to other people first, is what creates power.
Sure, asking for help in life is fine.
But only after you’ve really tried to do something yourself first.
Face it—nobody is going to come kick-start your project for you.
Why should they?
Start seeing failure as part of the process of generating power.
Moving forward after a failure is powerful.
Achieving your goal after a string of failures is powerful.
The fear of failure has crippled many. Don’t let it cripple you.
2. Eliminate low-priority activities and negative people.
You must set goals if you want to achieve long-term success.
You only have 24 hours in a day.
You can’t bargain to get more hours.
You need sleep, you need to eat, and you need mental rest.
That leaves you with just a few peak hours of willpower.
The limitation of time is real, and you must take it into account when planning your goals for self-improvement.
Having an overwhelming number of goals is debilitating.
It’s also intimidating.
You can’t stay focused on your biggest priority when it’s being suffocated under dozens of low-priority tasks.
If you want to get anything meaningful done during the day, you need to concentrate your forces.
You need to channel your energy to one point of impact.
Make a list of five important things to do in a day, but recognize that you might not get to the fourth and fifth item, so plan your time accordingly.
Put everything you have into the top one or two most important things you need to get done for the day.
These things are usually the tasks you’ve been putting off the longest.
The ones that fill you with dread because you know they require more hard work.
Stop spreading yourself thin.
Stop sacrificing your goals to the goals of other people just because they make you feel guilty.
Instead, acknowledge that you only have enough force to move one or two projects forward each day.
Concentrate this force fiercely and you will achieve your goals faster than those who dilute their forces.
Most importantly, prevent toxic people from stealing your mental energy by keeping them out of your life to begin with.
3. Identify your strengths and leverage them.
You’re told to be humble.
You’re told to make others feel comfortable.
Fix your weakness but don’t ever become too strong.
This is their message.
But other people don’t always have your best interests at heart.
Very often, they want you to focus on everything you’re not good at so they can catch up to the things you’re already great at.
The idea that you have to fix your weaknesses to be successful is a lie.
Sure, identifying weak points in your strategies or yourself is useful.
But obsessing over them is crippling.
When you focus on your weaknesses, you become weak.
When you focus on where you’re not powerful, you become weak and powerless.
The only way to be strong again is to channel your mental energies towards your strengths.
By focusing on personal strengths, you can keep yourself in a position of power, and stay there even as you take on new challenges.
Get in the habit of leveraging what you have, not weeping over what you don’t have.
4. Take ownership for past mistakes.
One of the easiest things to do when a situation goes wrong is to blame someone else.
It’s very easy to blame other people for your problems.
When you’re feeling powerless, pointing the finger feels good.
If other people are in control of the situation, then it’s okay for you to be powerless.
If it’s their fault, you’re not really powerless, you’re just unable to be powerful.
You’re just choosing to be temporarily powerless, right?
When you point the finger, you are powerless.
You’re powerless because instead of taking responsibility and stepping up to improve the situation, you’re sitting on your hands and accepting your fate.
Look—accepting responsibility for your own mistakes is part of accepting the responsibility of making your own choices.
If you want to start making bigger choices in life, if you want to be a major player one day, then start owning up to what you do now.
The fear of making a wrong choice will stop you from making any choice.
Inaction always results in negative consequences.
The only way to avoid this while staying powerful is to act forcefully and take responsibility for your actions.
5. Prepare for obstacles, but expect big wins.
Strategy is the key to staying powerful in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Never allow yourself to get caught off-guard in any situation.
A little forethought goes a long way.
By expecting the best and strategically preparing for unexpected obstacles, you’ll go further in life faster.
The key is to always keep your eyes on your goals.
Don’t focus on your obstacles.
Don’t focus on what you’re going through.
Instead, focus on where you’re going to.
At the same time, build up your arsenal of tools against things that can go wrong.
Keep developing new skill sets and strategies for adjusting your course on the way to achieving your goals.
When you get a win, celebrate it. Internalize it. Own it. And expect more.
When you hit a roadblock or make a mistake, use the tools you’ve developed to move past it quickly.
Together, these two things, preparing for obstacles, and expecting big wins will drive you forward.
You’ll gain momentum without ever losing your power.
The power to succeed lies in your willingness to identify your strengths and leverage them. You must be willing to eliminate low-priority activities and take ownership of your past mistakes. This is the only way to take back the power in your life. But taking back your power is the easy part. Keeping it is much harder. Keeping it requires you to constantly develop your skills, expect big wins, and get started on your own over and over again. Do this and you will live a more confident and focused life.
To learn more about leveraging your power when you feel weak and powerless, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.