Jack Par once said “looking back at my life, it has been a long obstacle course, me as the chief obstacle, putting this statement into perspective, I note with great regret that most people do not realize that they are the greatest hindrances for their successes.
Have you realized that every time you point an accusing finger at someone, you are pointing three fingers back at yourself, while the fifth one is pointing to God as witness! This implies that every man is the cause of 75% of his problems or obstacles. If someone else has a share, he can only be responsible for a maximum of 25% of the blame. This indicates that a failure would have still failed with or without anyone’s help! No wonder K.C. Price once said “if you fail, it is your fault, if you succeed, it is your fault.”
Stop complaining about things in your life that you are not happy about. Refuse to criticize other people for anything. You are responsible. If there is something in your life that you don’t like, it is up to you to change it. You are in charge. If you leave your life to chance, you have no chance.
Take Abraham Lincoln for example He was able to acknowledge his errors and learned from his mistakes to a remarkable degree. He was careful to put past hurts behind him and never allowed wounds to fester. In other words he got out of his own way and took personal responsibility.
Whereas many leaders surround themselves with loyalists and yes-men in top decision organs, Lincoln went out of his own way to bring disgruntled opponents together to create the most unusual cabinet in history.
For example, he brought Salmon Chase into his cabinet as treasury secretary and kept him there for three years, knowing full well that Chase craved the Presidency with every fiber of his being. He also knew Chase was undermining him all the time with cabinet members, congress, and the rest of other people in the country.
Lincoln came to power when the nation was in trouble and he had the intelligence and self confidence, to know that he needed the best people by his side, people who were leaders on their own right and who were very aware of their own strength. That is an important insight whether you are the leader of a country, a prospective governor of the county or the CEO of a Company.
Even Barrack Obama did the same thing by choosing his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, to be secretary of state; by picking rival Joe Biden as his Vice President; and by including powerful Republican in the cabinet like Robert Gates and Ray LaHood.
You can clearly see how two great leaders got out of their own way by being surrounded by rivals who had strong egos and ambitions. The major reason for them doing this in my view was that they wanted people who were free to question their authorities and who were unafraid to argue with them. Zig Ziglar said, “If you and your boss reason the same, one of you is redundant.”
Look closely at people who surround you in your world. You will be surprised how ineffective and inefficient they are. If you are a leader in an organization, country or county, get people with ideas irrespective whether they supported you earlier or not. Ideas are mental virtues accessible mainly by thinkers. They come only to people who are given the art of reasoning, people that engage their capacity for logical, rational and analytical thinking. Such virtues are not confined to your relatives, tribe mates, loyalists or friends.
If you made bad decisions in the past, concerning the way you lead, I know you are regretting now. But the good news is that regret is not bad. In other words what you should have done always seems clearer in retrospect than it was at the time. As the Danish philosopher Sern Kierkegaard put it, “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward” So don’t be so hard on yourself. Make yourself ready to use regret to improve decision making and clarify values. Instead of ruminating over what might have been, let what happened point the way. The regret you may feel from a frank evaluation for your decision making need not undermine your self confidence, rather, it might help you prioritise for example your investments, relationships, service to the community, health, time as well as help you get reasonable financial goals. I am saying in a nutshell you can use regrets to get out of your past own way. Getting out of your own way is forsaking your old bad ways of doing things.
There is an old story of a man who was walking towards a certain town in a day when men walked from town to town. As he was walking, he took notice of targets painted on trees, and fence posts. Each target had a bullet hole exactly in the middle – a bull’s eye on every one. He was impressed with the marksmanship and determined to find and meet this marksman as soon as he reached the town.
When he found him, the first question he asked the man was how he had become such an amazingly accurate shooter. To his surprise, the man smiled and told him that he wasn’t a marksman at all. He just shot first and then painted the target around wherever his shot landed!
Going through life like that so called marksman doesn’t reflect good leadership. We shoot first and make it look like we planned where it hit. The path of least resistance may make you look good and keep you from failure, but if you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it.
To overcome the “marksman” mentality you must get out of your own way. I mean you must change. Our country (Kenya) has been waiting in futility for a change for the better for decades without result. I believe it is time to accept full responsibility for the change we desire, less we perish.
Ants have no overseer or ruler, yet they are able to secure their future. If you are employed by any organization or individual, the biggest mistake you can ever make is to think that you work for anyone other than yourself. You are always self-employed, not employed. You are always the CEO of your own Personal Service Corporation, no matter where you might be working for the moment. Therefore, get out of your own way of thinking that you are an employee.
Look around yourself you see people dying of hunger. In my view, every blame on bad governance is rooted on bad citizenry, after all, the leaders are chosen from among the people. It is only a responsible citizenry that can produce a responsible leadership. Only by getting out of our way can change happen. Only those who believe in the need for change remain in charge. Someone said, “if you are through changing, you are through”. Also “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs!” “He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils”.
Author, medical missionary, explorer, and discoverer of Victoria Falls, Dr. Livingstone spent most of his adult life living in primitive conditions in Africa. While in the course of his exploration, he received a letter from some very well-meaning friends which read, “We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a new road into your area yet?”
Dr. Livingstone sent this message reply, “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want strong and courageous men who will come if there is no road at all.”
Dr. Livingstone wanted men with courage to get out of their own way and discover new roads. One person once said, “Whoever wants to discover new lands must lose sight of the shore.”
An ancient proverb reminds us that “courage consists not so much on avoiding danger as in conquering it.” It is mastering our fears and getting out of our own ways even when it appears there is no road at all on which to travel that will bring meaningful changes in life.
Do you really desire a change for the better as an individual? Do you really desire change as a people? Then, it is time we stopped wishing for a change let us start working at it. Mahatma Gandhi said “We must strive to become the change we want to see” Socrates also said, “Anyone who will move the world, must first move himself. It is only changed men that become world changers.
Remember that if you leave your live to chance, you don’t have a chance. Therefore, get out of your own way!