Taking Charge – Femi Adebanji

Unless we accept that we alone are responsible for our success or failure in life, we will be from time to time be preyed on by a victim mindset. People with a victim mentality often see themselves as victims of circumstance and They often see all the reasons why their dreams cannot be accomplished and spare little thought to why it can. They have poor self-belief and often believe that others are better or more capable than they are. They focus more on life’s challenges and consequently miss the prospects when they come by.

As they believe that they are victims of circumstance, they tend to externalise responsibility for their lives and blame everyone else but themselves for their situation. The problem with externalising blame is twofold – Firstly, once you lay the fault with an external source, then subconsciously, you believe that only them have the power to turn the situation around thus you take away your power to change your life and hand the power over to them; secondly and very critical is that once you expect someone else to change your life and not you, then you sit back, complain and do nothing – and you what happens? Nothing. Things stay the same or get worse. Needless to say, a victim mind-set is toxic and nothing great has ever been achieved with such a negative mind-set. The challenge however, is that most of us have been conditioned since childhood to blame something else or others when we are unhappy with particular area of our lives and thus we take little time to evaluate our contribution to the situation.

One of the fundamental pre-requisites for success is discarding the victim mind-set and taking complete responsibility for our lives – the successes and the failures, the good and the bad, everything. Once we acknowledge that our actions or the lack thereof, contribute directly or indirectly to the circumstances we find ourselves in, the prospects we create and the mistakes we make, we begin to take back control of our lives and put ourselves in a position of control. The minute you accept that your actions have somehow contributed to your situation, then this also implies that we can take different actions that will produce different outcomes in our lives.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I know from first-hand experience that life can be tough and that challenges and difficulties will arise. I know that businesses fail, people get fired, loved ones pass away, health fails and so on. That’s life and sometimes (but not always), there’s very little we can do to avert life’s challenges. However, we can choose our response and attitude to those challenges; and it is our response that will determine how quickly we bounce back and whether or not we allow ourselves to become victims or victors.

Think of it this way – 2 people lose their businesses fail. The person with a victim mind-set goes into a despair, believing that his life is over and that he will never recover. He focuses only on the agony of the experience and as a outcome gives up on himself and his future dreams and ambitions. Consequently, he never starts another business again” as he believes that the risks are too high and thus settles for a mediocre existence. The other person with a “winner” mind-set will go through the same initial emotional turmoil that comes with losing a business – after all we are all human. However, that’s where the similarities end. The person with the winning mind-set will respond differently to the situation in the following ways:

  • Firstly, he takes 100% responsibility for his situation. He does not externalise the blame as he is fully aware that blame and all the excuses in the world will not change the situation. Instead he becomes action-focused.
  • He does not lose belief in himself or his ability. Yes, the belief may be shaken as outcome of the experience, he does not characterise himself as a total failure. He accepts the experience as a part of life, learns from it and moves on.
  • He never loses sight of his supreme aspiration and his life dream. He accepts the experience as a setback, but he still believes that his life’s aspirations will come to pass.
  • Instead of wallowing in pity, he turns his focus on the lessons that need to be learnt from the traumatic experience so that he does not repeat them in future.
  • He will find out what skills he needs to develop to make him better equipped when the next break comes around.
  • Once he has evaluated his previous traumatic experience, he wastes little time wallowing in self-pity and immediately shifts into solution-mode. He either begins to research his next business venture or look for another challenging job where he can do things better and differently. Yes, he may start off small initially but his sights are always set on bigger and better things.

All great men have at some point faced immense challenges that seemed insurmountable. However, by refusing to be victims and by taking complete responsibility for their lives, they turned things around and achieved their aspirations. Success is a contact sport. It comes only to those who earn it. You have to be in the ring to win. You just can’t fall down and stay down because you’ve been hit once or twice. You stand your ground, keep swinging back and keep strategising, till you win.

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