No one is immune to challenges in life. We all face roadblocks and trials—some larger than others—but what matters is how we respond to them. We can choose to consider ourselves victims of the situation, or we can take ownership and control what we can.
Founder, CIO Mentor, and Member of the Bridgewater Board Ray Dalio says it’s crucial to push past the victimhood that’s so prevalent today and own your outcome.
We’ll all face challenges in our personal and professional lives, some of which may seem devastating. But we can’t let those challenges define us or turn us into victims.
He puts it simply when he says, “Reality is reality. To accept reality and to think it’s your responsibility to deal with reality in the best possible way will bring you a better life.”
Victims make excuses and don’t feel in control of their behavior. Instead of working through challenges, they wallow in difficulties and say that things are too hard. Victims don’t want to change their situations because they are afraid of doing something hard.
A common challenge for people is wanting to change and feeling their life is too difficult to take control of and turn into the situation they want. But in reality, the consequences of not changing are what’s hard. The second-order consequences in life are often opposite the first-order consequences and are more important. Doing things that are difficult now can help avoid even more significant difficulties in the future. This principle applies to all areas of life: the most delicious food is the worst food to eat. Exercising is painful, but not exercising can bring painful results. Putting in the work on the front end of the project is hard, but it’s better than making last-minute corrections later. In reality, dealing with what may seem difficult now will be less difficult later. As Dalio says, what’s difficult is not doing those things because it will give you a difficult life.
Dalio says the best way to change is to encounter your outcomes. Get away from blame, especially in collective decision-making, where everyone blames each other. Dalio says it’s important to catch yourself blaming others and change the outcome to be attributable to you.
As Dalio teaches, if you realize that your approach to life is the most important thing, you can have any life you want. Struggles will occur regardless of how you live your life, so the only thing you can do is struggle well and own your life. Enjoy the difficulties, take ownership, and push through the challenges.
We may fear people’s critical opinions, but those judgments about what others should do only divide and harm us.
We’re all faced with a choice to own our life and accept reality and deal with it instead of wallowing in our challenges or getting hung up on what other people think. And it starts from an early age. Dalio says it’s crucial to let children struggle with independence and learn the importance of consequences so they can become owners.
Challenges are part of life. And when those challenges arise, we can choose to be a victim or to do the hard thing and own the outcome. When we stop blaming others and take ownership, we can create a life we truly want to live, regardless of the situation.
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