Our world is not short on new ideas or techniques to help us all succeed in achieving our hopes and dreams. Whether it is a new diet plan that will help us achieve the health we desire, a new idea to open up better communication in a struggling relationship, or maybe it is the new idea to spark excitement and engagement in our organizations, we can always find new ideas to more effectively address our changing world. Many times these new techniques are ‘just what the doctor ordered’ to help us get moving down the path toward accomplishment.
Even as our world evolves with continuous innovation in the marketplace, our personal lives, and our society, one thing has not changed and likely never will; the first step in achieving our hopes and dreams is to deal with ourselves. As Plato said more than 2000 years ago, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.”
As we continue on our journey of building and strengthening our character, one of the personal habits we need to develop is taking the most effective first step in dealing with a challenging situation. When we are faced with a challenging relationship, a personal dilemma, or a challenge in our business, the most effective first step is to look at ourselves. Unfortunately, we all have a common tendency to look outside of ourselves first to identify the genesis of our problem instead of looking in the mirror.
When our closest relationships begin to struggle, we have a consistent pattern of looking at the other person’s faults and not what we have done to contribute to the problem. When businesses fail to achieve their potential, there is a strong tendency to develop the list of external events impacting the business and minimize the shortcomings of leadership that does not set clear direction, behaviors that fail to reinforce the desired culture, and the unwillingness to do the hard work of tactical execution. On some personal areas like our health, we can always blame a busy lifestyle for not getting the proper nutrition or exercise.
Our character is built and strengthened when we can take that first step to look at ourselves in a very authentic and genuine way to find some area of our own contribution to the problem. As we identify those areas within ourselves and commit to delivering on a plan to improve, the shortcomings of others become a distant thought and any associated anger and frustration is minimized. We take responsibility for the situation and that is an effective first step on the path to improvement.
As we look to deliver on the first and greatest victory as Plato suggests, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to have a greater impact in our homes, our businesses and our communities.