Looking in the Wrong Direction

One of the fundamental keys to success in life, however, is personal responsibility. It is the realization that life provides no guarantees—only opportunities.

I have gone from being angry to intrigued and from being puzzled to perplexed. I am heartbroken by the rhetoric and divisiveness but, most importantly, I have been awakened to an enormous group of people looking for someone else to solve their problems and make them happy. Yes, I am referring to the dynamics of this year’s election cycle in the United States.

This type of thinking is on all sides of the political spectrum, and the sense of vulnerability and powerlessness felt by many leads to believing in exaggerated promises few of which have the chance of being kept. This outward focus seeks to lay blame on others or circumstances for the inability or failure to participate fully in the “American Dream.”

Let me be clear. Are there genuine victims in the world? Without question. Can people benefit from support by government and other institutions to transcend adverse circumstances? Absolutely. Is it the mark of a civilized society that we help those in need? For me, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Is the best of what it means to be human expressed in how we pull up those who life has knocked down? I believe so.

One of the fundamental keys to success in life, however, is personal responsibility. It is the realization that life provides no guarantees—only opportunities. It is not another’s role or duty to look after us. Pointing the finger or blaming serves nothing except to stimulate anger, resentment, and envy. Being accountable, despite our circumstances, leads to discovering how we can move toward the life we desire.

I have come to this point of view not only from a lifelong career in the field of human development, but also from serving on the boards of nonprofits that deal with the abused and disadvantaged and whose lives require considerable rehabilitation. One such organization is Perspectives, Inc., based in Minneapolis, MN.

Perspectives serves women whose lives have been devastated by drugs and/or alcohol, yet who have made a commitment to be drug and alcohol free. The women come from backgrounds of dysfunctional homes, sexual abuse, and prostitution. Their children have been traumatized. To these mothers and children, Perspectives provides a lifeline. This lifeline, however, is one that they must grab a hold of and hang onto, for, literally, their lives are at stake.

Through a supportive housing program that provides an apartment, counseling, community, education, and the development of practical life skills, Perspectives is able to empower both mother and child to create new and productive lives. It is a slow, arduous process, but for those who embrace and commit to the opportunity, miracles happen. Families are reunited and high school dropouts become college graduates.

The success rate is impressive. Seventy-eight percent become independent and empowered to give back to those who are just beginning a similar journey. But what of the other 22 percent?

There lies the challenge and dilemma. Despite the support and the structure, the power to transform and to change, we have learned, must be discovered within.

Personal responsibility is not an easy concept to accept. It is fodder for great debate. My experience of life, however, aligns with the words of Jean Houston: “If you keep telling the same, sad small story, you will keep living the same sad, small life.”

David McNally, CPAE, is the CEO of TransForm Corporation and a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame. He is the author of two best-selling books, “Even Eagles Need a Push” and “The Eagle’s Secret.” His co-authored book, “Be Your Own Brand,” is used by many business schools throughout the world. In fall 2016, Calumet Editions will publish McNally’s new book, “Mark of an Eagle—How Your Life Changes the World.” Companies such as Delta Airlines, Pulte Homes, and Thrivent Financial are but a few of the many organizations that have embraced TransForm’s work as a key component of preparing their employees for an ever-competitive and complex future. For more information, contact info@transformcorp.com or visit http://www.transformcorp.com.