Take Ownership

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Take Ownership

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4 min

If where you are now is not exactly where you want to be, how do you move to a better place? Your first step is simply to accept responsibility for your life.

In 1997, I was asked to speak to a group of people who suffered from a range of illnesses. The participants were the source of much inspiration to me, none more so than sixty-four-year-old Andy McGovern.

Andy had been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease in 1976. The life expectancy for sufferers of this central nervous system disease is between two and five years. For a self-employed, father of six children aged between three and sixteen years of age, this was the worst possible disaster for Andy.

Incredibly, twenty-one years after the diagnosis, Andy published a book: They Laughed At This Man’s Funeral. He wrote it with his right foot. He climbed Croagh Patrick, the West of Ireland’s pilgrimage mountain, twice. It is a very difficult challenge that many very fit and active people avoid. And today he surfs the worldwide web with his right foot.

What happened in those two decades to enable Andy to live a remarkable and fulfilling existence? Two to five years, the experts said, not twenty-one.

For him, the answer was simple.
"I started to accept my lot, realizing that, in a strange sense, I was better off than many of the people I met in Lourdes and along the way. From then on, my focus changed from problems and obstacles to possibilities and magnificent challenges; to celebrating each moment as opposed to stewing in self-pity. I found that acceptance was the first step towards inner healing."

I was inspired and moved by Andy’s story and his advice. Listening to him, it was obvious to me that accepting and taking responsibility was indeed an important step in our development. I realized then that, in my own life, whenever there were challenges, I was the problem, but I was also the solution!

I made the decision to sell our house without the aid of an Estate Agent, and before too long, there were two different people very interested in buying it. I eventually accepted a deposit from one potential buyer and told the other that he had not been successful. The future owner and I made an amicable verbal agreement that I would take the house off the market while he organised his mortgage, and that if he failed to do so, his deposit would not be refunded to compensate me for the loss of the sale to the other party.

As the weeks passed, it became clear that this person was not going to be able to raise the remainder of the cash necessary to complete the purchase and the sale was going to fall through. He began to put pressure on me to return his deposit; even though he knew that it he had no right to a refund. He became quite confrontational, to the point where I was nervous about answering the phone or hearing a car pull up outside! For a while I stood my ground, determined that he was not going to get the better of me. There was stalemate and nobody was winning. Then it began to dawn on me that I was the problem! I was allowing this person to control my thoughts and actions. In fact, the only way I could communicate with him was to come down to his level and resort to being downright nasty!

Once I recognised what was happening I cut my losses and returned the deposit. The situation was immediately resolved as soon as I became the solution. I’d lost the money but regained my life and my peace of mind, with my integrity intact.

Oftentimes solving the problem is not the challenge, seeing it is.


The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like the wrongdoer.
Marcus Aurelius

Say with conviction; ‘I am the problem. I am the solution!’
Now, type or write it out and put it somewhere you will see it often.

Think of a personal situation you consider problematical. It could be a strained relationship, a financial difficulty, a bad habit…. - anything that is not serving you or contributing to your life in a positive way. Now, accept responsibility for your part in creating this situation and see if you can honestly say ‘I am this problem. I am the solution.’ How does this change your perspective? Write down your answer.

Taking responsibility is the first step on your journey. Remember, when you point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you!
This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Kevin K. who travels from Galway, Ireland. Kevin is available for Professional Speaking Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

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