Coming from a psychological background, one of the fundamentals that I worked with was change. People would bring their past into the room and, through exploration and challenging, hopefully leave with a fresh perspective about their lives and their future.
The difficulty though was that, for many, the prospect of actually facing up to their pasts and challenging them was a daunting task and it was safer, and easier, to simply hold onto what they knew. This gave them a reason to persist with their behaviours, thoughts and feelings and essentially justify such, within the bounds of, what I like to call “ a library of excuses.”
This may not make sense to some but the fact is, as humans, certainty and control are very important to us and we will even sacrifice our opportunity to be happy and progressive, for the sake of these. Though this may be a façade, at least I know it and can seemingly control it because I can decide when I feel, think and behave in a certain way because of it. It is plain to see however who is controlling whom in this scenario.
Putting it another way, I am ‘comfortably miserable!’
Holding onto yesterday
Being comfortably miserable refers to an emotional mindset, where an individual chooses to relinquish control over their choices and rather allow the past and others to determine their happiness and future for them. This approach has essentially two main benefits. Firstly, I can blame everyone and everything else for the choices I have made and secondly, I can blame them for the choices I did not make. They stole my happiness and my life and I am helpless to do anything about it, as I did not have a choice.
Very comfortable, as now I am free of the responsibility of my choices and can remain exactly where I am emotionally, mentally and physically because ‘who did it? – YOU not I.
This is of course self-sabotaging and only serves to keep one unhappy – yet strangely, happy.
A true saying of fact though is that even when I choose not to choose I am still choosing because I am choosing not to choose. So, no matter how I may manipulate myself into thinking, I am responsible for what I choose to do about the way I think, feel and act – today.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Victor Frankl
Born to lead
All of us are born to be leaders. Not necessarily in the sense that we may envisage as someone leading a company or country, but born to have an influence in the world.
That is what leaders do; they have influence and by this make a difference.
Yet, so few of us live by this paradigm. So few of us believe that we possess this potential and that is because we have been forged, by our pasts, to think otherwise. This not only corrupts our ability to lead but also corrupts our leadership.
The physician / author, George Sheehan, when speaking at a national conference in 1979 said: “You are unique, never-to-be repeated event. Your parents could make love a million times and never again reproduce the same genetic pattern. You are the only chance this planet has for your unique contribution. Will others’ expectations, rules and roles be your focus? Will you be only what you think you should be? Or will you occur?”
Everyday we are given this ability to occur, this ability to lead and yet, for many of us, we squander it. We have only to look at our current situation in South Africa to see how the past has corrupted any form of true leadership.
We need to be leaders and we need to lead but we cannot do it while we focus the energy of the past onto and into the hopes of the future. This hope will turn to bitterness and so breed leadership that thrives on bringing about bitterness.
Change needs leadership!
Change needs leadership because it is uncomfortable, it is threatening to the status quo and it is uncertain. It challenges the sense of control and it asks questions that not only show the way, but also forge it. It offers direction and inspires movement, as true leadership is progressive – for all.
To be progressive is about moving from the past, not using the ‘library of excuses’ to keep going back and repeat the same mistakes over and over again. To be progressive is about stepping up.
When I step up I am not afraid to lead. I am not afraid to embrace leadership and I am not afraid of my past because I am not afraid to let it go. I am not afraid to take responsibility for my choices nor am I am afraid to make the choices.
When I step up I take responsibility for the position I have chosen to take and I acknowledge its responsibility.
By doing this, I think, feel and act in accordance to my responsibility, as I recognise that not only am I responsible for myself, but also to others.
I am ready to occur! Are you?
Bruniquel & Associates (Pty) Ltd
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