Take Ownership or Stop Complaining!

Take Ownership or Stop Complaining

“Taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.” – Gary Keller

Up ’til now I have tried my best to encourage people who feel stuck to take some baby steps toward pursuing their dream. I’ve allowed you to examine my life in a rather voyeuristic manner as I share story after story of my mistakes and failures. I’m pretty open about my struggles when asked, and sometimes even when I’m not asked. And that’s why it has been comfortable for you to read, listen, and/or watch me from afar. “This guy’s just like me,” you may even tell yourself. But I have some bad news for you. There comes a point in every relationship when a gauntlet must dropped. Consider this our DTR (Define the Relationship) conversation.

I know there are a lot of people who have read my posts and been encouraged to begin implementing new strategies to discover how they are uniquely positioned to change the world. What I mean by that is, discovering what each individual is created to do in order to improve their overall outlook on life and the lives of those around them. I use the word “world” in a more intimate way than describing the entire planet. Kind of like saying “your little world.”

But eventually, the rubber has to meet the road. At some point, the training wheels need to come off and you can’t be looking over your shoulder for Mom and Dad to be holding on to your bike. I find that some people really like to imagine what it’d be like to improve their situation or begin pursuing their passion, but very few have the guts to do it. They read self-improvement books, listen to podcasts, watch motivational videos on YouTube, and say “someday.” For some reason there is still a glass ceiling for you and you are afraid to acknowledge the truth of the situation.

The truth is, you are the architect who designed that glass ceiling. No one has been holding you back. You simply bought the lie that other people had that much power over what you could do.

I know what you’re probably thinking, don’t tell me. You are not where you want to be because something or someone got in the way. You had all the tools, all the potential in the world and then nothing went according to plan. Instead you now find yourself with years wasted and your internal clock tick-tick-ticking away. But it’s not your fault, right? Well, in one sense I admit, you’re right. Whatever happened to you back then may not have been your fault. And at the time, it was probably best to deal with that circumstance head on and put your dreams on hold albeit temporarily. But I’m sorry, not sorry, to tell you that allowing that event or choice to determine your path forward in the here and now is your fault.

Allowing things you cannot control to have control over you will make everything within your control seem too difficult to do. And that’s why you haven’t done it. “Geoff, you don’t understand,” you are no doubt saying to yourself. But I can’t hear you. All I hear are excuses. You are comfortable playing the victim because you then have a built-in excuse for things not going your way.

When things don’t go our way we are faced with two options, either take ownership of the outcome, learn from the experience and move forward, or sit and complain about the “raw deal” that we received. So many people would rather finger-point, than actually be honest with themselves and do the hard work of identifying the root cause of our problems. It’s time to stop complaining and to take ownership!

I used to work with people who preferred complaining about the hand they’d been dealt. There was always some reason why they weren’t where they wanted to be. But they themselves were never the reason. I would often ask them, “what are you doing to change it?” They never had a response. Though most people know the answer to that question even if it pains them to admit it. NOTHING! Well, not nothing. They are doing something about it, they are complaining about it.

Because for most people, complaining is easier to deal with than the reality of the situation. They exhaust themselves looking for anyone who will listen to their sob story, instead of taking that time to make some real changes to their life. Now, before you start lighting torches and collecting pitchforks, let me assure you that I was, and sometimes still am, a complainer. I made excuses for myself. I cut myself all the slack in the world while not leaving any for anyone else. My daily bread was self-pity and misery.

Thankfully, God parted the Red Sea of depression and discontentment and revealed to me a way through the stormy seas. But the funny thing is, even though He made a way, I still was responsible for recognizing my role in the equation. I needed to take the first step. Sure, I felt a gentle nudge toward the precipice of what used to be a raging ocean, but all I could see was dry land before me and walls of water on either side of me. Was I going to complain that this journey was too hard? Or was I going to step out in faith and own the outcome through both figurative and literal hell or high water?

You can be one of two things, a complainer or an owner. But you can’t be both.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, then you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

To drive the point home further, the story of the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt has some interesting insights for us today. If you are not religious, then I ask you to indulge me for just a moment.

After God led His people out of Egypt (see The Ten Commandments starring Charleton Heston) they began to complain. Even though God had promised them deliverance and to guide them into a good land, they still complained. When Israel sent 12 spies to scout out the promised land, 10 of them came back and complained saying that they should return to Egypt. Only 2 of the spies believed God’s promise that the land was rightfully theirs. I’m sure they were afraid of the giants and the battles ahead but they wanted to take ownership of the outcome. Instead, the 10 spies brought a bad report to the people and convinced them to complain against Moses and God. As a result, they did not enter the Promised Land and they ultimately died in the wilderness.

Now this was not intended to be a Sunday School lesson, nor was it probably even the best exposition of the biblical text. However, in this story I see a direct correlation between the benefits of taking ownership and the danger of complaining.

Let me wrap up my thoughts with a sobering reminder- just because you decided to take ownership of your decisions doesn’t mean you will always make the right ones. It also doesn’t mean that things will always work out the way you’d hoped. Be forewarned- when you take ownership of and accountability for your actions then you forfeit your right to complain about the outcome.

Do you have the guts to take the leap into the unknown? Or do you prefer having the option to whine and moan about how hard life is?

I’m not trying to peer pressure you into doing something that you don’t want to do. After coming this far, you may realize that things are not as bad as you once thought. And to that I say, great! Maybe you just needed to see that the grass isn’t always greener. But I also say that if you choose to do nothing to change your situation, then you need to stop complaining about it. RIGHT…NOW. Otherwise you will spend your life wandering aimlessly only to die in the wilderness of lost hopes and dreams.

In closing, I want to let you know that you have been given a unique purpose by your Creator. There are certain things hardwired within you that maybe you have allowed to lay dormant for a long time. Until now, you have always brushed them aside, made excuses or tried to find other people to blame for those things not coming to fruition in your life.

After reading this, you may feel like you are finally ready to put your doubts, fears, and failures aside. Whatever it is that has kept your feet shackled or tied you down. My prayer is that by reading my stories you’ll discover your story and identify the things that are most important to you. You may be right at the precipice of everything you’ve wanted to do with your life. It’s time to take a leap of faith. Come on in, the water’s fine.