Learning to help others transform their life presented many unique challenges. But, there was one challenge tougher than all the others that I just couldn’t work out.
Why could I sit down with one client and within a few short sessions, he’d made so much progress that we’d never have to speak again but with another client facing the EXACT same challenge, it could take months for them to even realise what was going on?
It took months of combing through hundreds of hours of coaching calls to identify more than 30 major differences and another 6 months of analysing those differences to realise there was just one difference at the core: Ownership.
But before I dive deep into Ownership basics and how to implement it do your life leaps forwards, let’s cover a few basics.
THE REASON YOU’RE STUCK IN ONE SPOT
If you’ve read more than one articles on this site, you’ll know I’m incredibly critical of the type and depth of advice dished out by well-intentioned, but ultimately ineffective self-help ‘gurus’. But, in this instance, it’s not the advice that’s the real cause of your less-than-stellar progress.
The reason you’re stuck and haven’t found the solution you need is that you haven’t been given the psychological foundations necessary to use this advice in a way that gets results.
This is important: it’s not the quality of the advice that’s holding you back, it’s the underlying psychological foundation through which that advice is filtered that’s responsible for your lack of progress.
There’s a big, deep, psychological line in the sand you need to mentally step over to start powering towards the life you want and until you do, even the most thorough, personalised, and detailed advice will be a waste of time. But once you do, you could literally rub your body in cow manure and dance naked under a street light at a train station for 2 hours (not recommended) and still make progress towards your perfect life. But, to turn shit into gold, you need to find that line and take the leap.
The Missing Ingredient to your success
The big, deep, psychological line in the sand is based in a few obvious facts of reality that are critical to understanding the point you’re about to learn so I’ll quickly cover them to make sure we’re on the same page.
- You live in an interactive reality comprised of many different moving parts and agents, including yourself, other people, external objects, the natural environment, the weather, and everything in between
- Sometimes, in this interactive reality, events occur that create an emotional response in you of some flavour of positivity or negativity and some level of intensity
- These events are created by both factors within your control (your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude) and factors outside your control (the thoughts, decisions, and actions of other people, external objects, the natural environment, etc…)
These are all pretty self-evident, but important.
Things happen and those things happening is based on a combination of your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude, the thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude of those around you, and environmental factors. This is important to understand, but not the actual line in the sand. The line in the sand is where you place your attention in this whole mess, and it’s called: taking ownership.
WHAT IS OWNERSHIP?
At the conclusion of any event, when the pain or glory of your newly achieved outcome is fresh in your mind, you can assign responsibility for that outcome to the contributions of any of the elements involved or any combination of the elements involved. You can:
- Blame Karen from accounting for the error in the report
- Hold the government responsible for not dealing with the traffic crisis causing you to be late
- Identify Jeff as the likely cause of the breakdown of your friendship
- Acknowledge that you could have checked the weather forecast and dressed appropriately but other people who did check the forecast should have told you
- Congratulate Michelle for the stellar pass that propelled your team to victory
None of these are taking ownership.
Ownership is placing your focus solely on your contributions to the events and outcomes that result in your experiences.
It’s paying 100% attention to what role you had in creating your life experience and ignoring everything outside your control. It’s ignoring what other people said (or didn’t say), what other people did (or didn’t do), what other people thought (or didn’t think), what did or did not happen in the environment around you, and focussing exclusively on your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude in any given moment.
- If you lost a football match, taking ownership means ignoring the actions of the other players and the referees and assessing how your thoughts, decisions, and actions contributed to your loss
- If you got rejected by that cute store clerk when you asked them out, taking ownership means ignoring the actions of the clerk and assessing how your thoughts, decisions, and actions contributed to your rejection
- If you got fired from your job, taking ownership means ignoring the actions of your boss, coworkers, and senior management and assessing how your performance and attitude contributed to your firing
It means focussing exclusively on the specific elements that are under your control and letting everything outside your control blow away like dust in the wind.
WHAT IS NOT OWNERSHIP?
There’s one critical distinction just about everyone gets wrong when they first hear about ownership. There’s a misconception that taking ownership means you have to take responsibility for the outcome. That you have to carry the weight for the lost game or the rejection or being fired or whatever. This is incorrect.
Yes, your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude all contributed to the outcome, but as I said before, there are also elements outside your control that contributed to the outcome. You don’t need to take responsibility for the outcome and can’t take responsibility for the outcome because you weren’t solely responsible for the outcome.
- You weren’t the only one who contributed to Karen’s report
- You weren’t solely responsible for creating the traffic jam that made you late
- Both you and Jeff failed to keep in touch, resulting in your friendship waining
There are so many factors that influenced the eventual outcome it would be impossible to name them all.
Do you know with 100% certainty why you were fired?
- Maybe your production was below management’s expectations which meant you were costing the company money
- Maybe your boss’s insecurities left him/her intimidated by your skills and ability and he/she was fearful of being replaced
- Maybe the company is in the process of being bought out and your boss knew you’d be fired when it was complete so wanted to give you a chance to hit the job market before the rest of your co-workers
- Maybe your boss is flat-out racist
- Maybe your open-minded, considerate, and pro-innovation attitude conflicts with existing company culture and they wanted to find someone who was a better fit
- Maybe your boss believed your considerable talents were being wasted in that shit-hole of an organisation and fired you so you’d have a chance to reach your potential
Do you know with 100% certainty why you were rejected by the cute store clerk?
- Maybe the clerk is currently in a satisfying and fulfilling relationship
- Maybe you weren’t confident enough and the clerk thought they’d have to spend too much time babying you
- Maybe the clerk just got out of a controlling and manipulative relationship and isn’t ready to start dating
- Maybe you were too confident and the clerk was intimidated by you
- Maybe the clerk just ate some cheesecake and felt fat
- Maybe you were wearing the same cologne as their ex and that was an immediate turnoff
You don’t know what caused the outcome and can never know what caused the outcome so it’s impossible to take responsibility for the outcome. Ownership is simply directing your attention to what you contributed to the situation – your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude – and not wasting time on anything you can’t control.
HOW FAILING TO TAKE OWNERSHIP KEEPS YOU STUCK IN THE ONE SPOT
Failing to take ownership is the reason you’re stuck on the personal development hamster wheel. It’s the psychological foundation responsible for your lack of progress and the reason why the advice that works for everyone else hasn’t been helping you along.
It’s responsible for your lack of progress because of who and what it relies on to change before your life becomes happier, richer, and more rewarding.
When you fail to take ownership (by focussing on what everyone else contributed to your frustrating life situations), in order for you to change the situation and your experience of that situation, you have to convince everyone else to change their thoughts, decisions, and actions. This means your happiness and fulfilment is resting in the hands of people who have no vested interest in making your life better.
This is a flawed strategy because in order to create a more rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting life, you have to accomplish five challenging tasks.
TASK 1. CONVINCE OTHER PEOPLE TO CHANGE
The first step in living a more rewarding and fulfilling life while failing to take ownership is convincing other people to change their thoughts, decisions, and actions. You need to motivate them sufficiently to make a conscious and deliberate alteration to their life through the promise of some reward or the threat of a punishment.
If you wield significant power or influence over the lives of others or have significant rewards (money, fame, glory) under your control, this may be possible. But given that most people struggle to motivate themselves to take action, their chance of being able to motivate a person or group of people who aren’t the ones experiencing any pain related to their actions to change is almost nonexistent.
TASK 2. GIVE THEM THE TOOLS TO CHANGE
Let’s say you happen to be that 0.1% of people who have enough power or influence to motivate others to change, or you control enough limited resources to reward people for changing and you’re able to motivate these people you blame for your frustrating life to change their actions. The next step after convincing them to change is to give them the tools to change. As I’m sure you’re aware (because you’re reading an article about how to rapidly increase your rate of change), changing deeply ingrained life habits can be very difficult and in order to do so, you need a deep understanding of the psychological forces at play and a structured scaffold to implement new and more desirable behaviours.
Given that you’re struggling to implement change in your own life, I’m guessing you don’t have a thorough understanding of these psychological forces of the scaffold necessary for change, so this might be challenging.
TASK 3. HELP THEM APPLY THOSE TOOLS
Once again, let’s assume that you’re in the 0.1% of people who can motivate others and that you’re also in the 1% of people understand how to create the tools necessary for someone to change their deeply ingrained behaviours, the next step is to help them apply those tools. It’s one thing to have the motivation to change and the tools available, but to help people apply them, you need to fashion those tools into a structured progression, provide guidance on how to overcome the inevitable obstacles, and then assist with consistent monitoring of their progress and adjusting the progression as they start to move through it.
In other words, you need to take the horse to water AND make it drink.
The ability to create a progression, identify obstacles, guide others through it, and then adjust that progression as the person moves through it is a challenging process for even the most experienced coaches so the chance of you having those skills is pretty slim.
TASK 4. CONVINCE THEM TO MAINTAIN THAT CHANGE
Just for the sake of helping you understand how not taking ownership is trapping you in a frustrating and difficult life, let’s assume you do have the ability to complete tasks 1, 2, and 3. Let’s say you can motivate, educate, and guide the thoughts, decisions, and actions of those around you. The next step is tougher than the last four combined.
It’s one thing to be able motivate someone to make the once-off decision to change their life. The real challenge with guiding someone through the transformation process is motivating them throughout the 66 days it takes to reinforce a new habit enough for it to become unconscious. Over the course of that 66-day journey, things are going to change.
Their health, relationships, energy levels, priorities, and everything in between is going to change and move and I can guarantee you, adopting new behaviours to make someone else’s life better is going to naturally fall WAY down their priority list. If you’re going to eliminate your frustrations related to this person or group’s actions, you’re going to need to find a way to continually bring your priorities to the top of their list, regardless of what’s going on in their life.
Given how challenging this is to do with people who experience the direct consequences of their actions, doing this with people who don’t have first-hand experience of the pain will be incredibly challenging.
TASK 5. REPEAT WITH EVERY PERSON YOU WILL EVER MEET, WITH MULTIPLE DIFFERENT ISSUES, ALL AT THE SAME TIME, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
Motivating, educating, and guiding someone through the process of changing their thoughts, decisions, and actions would be tough enough if you only had to do it with one person at a time. But, this is very rarely going to be the case.
If you fail to take ownership (by focussing on what others contribute to your frustrating life experiences), you’re going to have LOTS of shitty experiences. This means that in order to make your life fulfilling and rewarding, you will not only have to motivate, educate and guide multiple people at once, but you’re going to have to do it with every person you will interact with over the course of your entire life for the duration of your entire life.
The sheer weight and intensity of this workload would be impossible for even the most experienced coach to handle, let alone someone (you) who still hasn’t worked out how to overcome their own challenges.
Failing to take ownership traps you because it creates a situation that is impossible to solve. It creates a situation where in order to transform your life, you need to develop an array of tools, knowledge, and experience so deep and wide that it would take years to fully wrap your head around.
This is why you haven’t made progress. This is why you’re stuck on the hamster wheel. This is why you feel trapped and stuck and frustrated by your lack of progress. It’s not (100%) because of the advice you’ve been given, it’s because failing to take ownership creates an impossible-to-manage workload where you need such a wide and specific set of tools and experiences that you can never overcome the barriers you face in your everyday life.
You’ve been trying to build a house on shaky foundations and it collapses every time you set foot inside. If you’re ever going to shed your frustrating and limiting life and build a reality so exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling that you get excited just thinking about what tomorrow has to offer, you need to start from the ground up.
HOW TAKING OWNERSHIP WILL RAPIDLY TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE SITUATION
Taking ownership allows you to rapidly accelerate your progress towards your ideal life by focussing all your attention and effort on things you can change. You’re not stuck wasting time, effort, and energy on trying to convince anyone to live their life in a different way. Your energy is solely directed at changing things you have complete control over.
TIME SAVING MECHANISM 1. YOU DON’T NEED TO CONVINCE ANYONE ELSE TO CHANGE
Trying to convince other people to change takes time. You have to learn about motivational theories, discover which theory resonates most deeply with your chosen target, and then attempt to motivate them to change their life using this theory. Even if this is successful the first time, it’s still going to chew up valuable hours of your life.
But, taking ownership means you don’t need to walk this path. You have the basic fundamentals of motivation already present in your life (moving away from pain/moving toward pleasure) meaning you don’t need to learn or consider or attempt to convince others.
You can save significant amounts of time because you have the drive necessary to change your life.
TIME SAVING MECHANISM 2. YOU DON’T NEED TO EDUCATE ANYONE ELSE ON HOW TO CHANGE
Educating people about the transformation process takes time. You have to find the appropriate information that not only solves the problem, but is also presented in a way that matches their individual learning style, and then find time to present it to them and discuss it with them once they’re done. More often than not, you’ll also need to find additional learning resources that once again, match their learning style, present it to them, and discuss it with them once they’re done.
But, taking ownership means you don’t have to hunt down information in someone else’s learning style, wait for them to read it, and then discuss it with them afterwards.
You can save the precious hours of your life by simply focussing on your contributions to your life challenges and moving forward towards your ultimate vision.
TIME SAVING MECHANISM 3. YOU DON’T NEED TO GUIDE ANYONE ELSE THROUGH THE CHANGE PROCESS
Guiding someone else through the process of change takes time. You need to develop a structured progression that takes into account their personal strengths and limitations, communicate with them about their progress through the transformational journey, and then adjust your strategy based on their feedback.
But, taking ownership means you can cut out all the learning about the other person’s preferences and the communication necessary to understand their knowledge, experience, skills, strengths, limitations, preference, and progress. You don’t need to have conversations to discover what they’ve previously read, what they’ve previously done, how that’s gone, and what they need to do differently. You can just walk your own path with full knowledge of your past and present and adjust as you need to.
You can save a significant amount time by once again, not needing to motivate, communicate, or negotiate.
TIME SAVING MECHANISM 4. YOU DON’T NEED TO HELP THEM MAINTAIN THAT CHANGE
Helping someone maintain change takes time. You have to constantly and consistently check in with their current life situation, identify how they’re progressing, develop a new plan for overcoming their newly-discovered obstacles, and ensure they’re sufficiently motivated to implement that new plan.
But, taking ownership means you can cut out all the communication about their progress, the development of a new plan, and the necessity to motivate them to continue pushing towards your goals. You can just allow the inevitable slip ups to bring the pain of your pathways back into the foreground of your awareness and use that pain to motivate you to keep moving forward.
You can save a significant amount of time by once again, not needing to motivate, communicate, or negotiate.
TIME SAVING MECHANISM 5. YOU DON’T NEED TO REPEAT THIS PROCESS WITH EVERYONE YOU WILL EVER MEET, MULTIPLE TIMES THROUGHOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
Trying to motivate, educate, and guide one person, is tough, but it’s not that big of a deal. Depending on how well you know them, it can range from consuming a few weeks of your life to maybe a few months. But, try repeating that with everyone you will ever interact with and covering every different way they can interact with you.
At best, it will consume every waking minute of your life as you attempt to control the thoughts, decisions, and actions of every person you will ever meet. At worst, it will overwhelm you and force you into an angry, bitter, dark corner of a safe space where you attempt to gain refuge from the continual frustration and disappointment of existing in a world you can’t control.
But, taking ownership means you don’t need to repeat this process with everyone you will ever meet. You can focus on just you; on your motivations, on your learning style, on guiding your progress, and on maintaining your change.
You can just identify what you contributed to your frustrating and difficult life situation and change that.
HOW OWNERSHIP WILL RAPIDLY TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE
The good thing about ownership is that it doesn’t just make your transformation faster, it makes the experience of transformation more enjoyable in two ways.
WAY 1. YOU CHANGE THE OUTCOME
Taking ownership makes your life more rewarding because it allows you to simply and easily eliminate your frustrating and difficult life experiences.
As you learnt previously, the outcomes responsible for your life experiences are created by elements you do control and elements you don’t control. But, to change the outcome (and therefore your experience), you don’t need to change all the elements. You can just change the elements you contributed.
It’s just like baking a cake: if you switch the chocolate chips for dried pieces of apple, or the eggs for butter, or the milk for water, you get a different cake. Neither one of those pieces is solely responsible for the end product, but each contributes in its own way and changing one of the ingredients results in a radically different finished product.
Taking ownership allows you to identify and change your contributions to your frustrating and difficult life experiences, eliminating them for good. It definitely doesn’t guarantee that your experience will be automatically fulfilling, but even if it isn’t, you’ll be able to identify how your new set of contributions are contributing to the outcome and will be able to adjust your contributions once again.
WAY 2. YOU GAIN A SENSE OF CONTROL OVER YOUR LIFE
Taking ownership also improves your life experience by giving you a sense of power and control over your life.
Instead of being the victim of a cruel and uncaring world that refuses to consider your happiness as a priority, you become an active agent, consciously creating your life in every moment. It gives you the power (with a little extra knowledge and experience) to transform frustrating and difficult experiences into rewarding experiences whenever you want. Your life experience becomes a conscious choice you can make in every moment, regardless of what’s happening in the world around you.
Focussing on your contributions and consciously changing them means that negative experiences become one-off learning lessons rather than destructive cycles you have to constantly fight. This reduces their frequency and severity and once you can consistently put this into practice, it turns them into empowering moments of great learning and progress.
You have all the theory, but it can be tough to understand what that looks like in practice. So, here are a few examples of common pieces of advice, with and without ownership.
EXAMPLE 1. BE MORE CONFIDENT
This is a terrible piece of advice. It truly is. It ignores all the foundations of what makes someone confident, why someone might not be confident, and the different pathways to be more confident. But, even with a poor piece of advice such as this, the difference in the level of progress between someone who hasn’t taken ownership and someone who has is stark.
BE MORE CONFIDENT WITHOUT OWNERSHIP
If you can just ‘be more confident’, then great. No issues. But if you struggle, then without taking ownership, being more confident is tough. You’ll focus on what other people contribute to your lack of confidence, including what they say when you’re around, how they respond to your actions and attempts, and what you perceive they think of you.
This external focus will result in you blaming their judgements and reactions on failing to develop confidence and being left with no actionable steps or pathway to progress. You’ll just end up ranting about how other people should be kinder and less judgemental because you’re trying your best and it’s not fair that you didn’t have parents who helped you be more confident while still wallowing in your shitty life.
If you’re somehow blessed with strong drive and determination, you might find the energy to give it another crack doing the same thing you did last time and when it ultimately fails (because you haven’t changed your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, or attitude and are just expecting everyone around you to magically change), you’ll just further reinforce your belief that the world is uncaring and mean and you’re the victim of a great social injustice.
BE MORE CONFIDENT WITH OWNERSHIP
If you somehow manage to ‘just be more confident’ then once again, you’ll have no issues. But, if you struggle while taking ownership of your struggles, you’ll at least be able to take a meaningful lesson from the exercise. You’ll look at how you contributed to your struggles, maybe in the form of listening to poorly thought out advice or caring too much what other people think or not giving enough effort or time to the new technique. This learning lesson will help you identify the next step in your journey and at least walk away with an actionable step to progress your life forward.
While not actually making feeling stronger or more confident (I’m not really sure how you could by following advice this vague), you will have at least made progress by eliminating one pathway and finding the next step in your journey.
This important lesson gives you a powerful platform to further develop your ability to live more Independently and build the confidence you desire.
EXAMPLE 2. FOLLOW YOUR LIFE PLAN
Let’s go onto something a little more useful: following your vision of your perfect life. Don’t blindly stagger along the well-trodden path laid down by your parents and their parents before them. Forge your own path, following your dreams, and branch out on your own.
FOLLOW YOUR LIFE PLAN WITHOUT OWNERSHIP
If you can follow your life plan, then great. You’ll build a more exciting life. If you can’t and you don’t take ownership, you’re going to have a bad time. You’re going to be resentful at whoever you blame for your struggles and demand they change.
Maybe it’s your parents for not giving you the courage and strength to do your own thing. Maybe it’s your friends for not supporting and guiding you. Maybe it’s your work for not being more flexible and paying you more so you have additional time and space to do the things you love. Whoever and whatever it is, you’ll find someone and something to blame.
This external focus will mean that you make no progress and perceive that you can’t make progress until this external force stops beating you down. You also perceive that in order to start following your life plan, you somehow have to escape from under it before you can start making progress.
FOLLOW YOUR LIFE PLAN WITH OWNERSHIP
Once again, if you can follow your life plan, great. You’ll be fine. But, even failing to follow your life plan will help you identify actionable steps forward.
Maybe you notice that you don’t have the courage to step outside the social norm and so you develop an action plan to lean over your edge in a way that is challenging but achievable. Maybe you realise you’re friends with people who aren’t supportive of others doing something different so you decide to make a new friend group. Maybe you realise that you’ve entered an industry that sucks your time and energy and so work on developing new personality traits and success habits while at work.
Your internal focus means that even if you don’t manage to live your life plan, you can find the next step to making progress because you’re not relying on the world around you to change before you get results.
EXAMPLE 3. MEDITATION
Let’s look at a REALLY useful example: meditation. Don’t just allow your brain to casually wander around as you move through your day, take active control of your focus and direct your attention to the things in your life that will actually make a difference.
MEDITATION WITHOUT OWNERSHIP
If you can successfully meditate, great. No issues. If you can’t and you fail to take ownership, then you’re going to run into problems. You’re going to feel like you’re the victim of a great injustice and it will just validate your opinion of how hard your life is.
Maybe your parents let you play too many video games as a kid. Maybe your phone rings too often and it always breaks your concentration. Maybe you’ve read too much about ADHD and assume your lack of ability to focus is due to a medical condition, rather than just being a skill you haven’t developed.
You’ll struggle as the forces inside your brain conspire to limit your progress and keep you stuck in a never-ending cycle of failure and frustration.
MEDITATION WITH OWNERSHIP
Once again, if you can meditate, great. You’ll be fine and progress as necessary. But, if you struggle, taking ownership will once again give you a platform to learn from your limitations and develop a plan to make progress.
Maybe you realise that you’re easily distracted and so start your meditation in a sensory deprivation tank. Maybe ADHD is a real challenge for you so you work with a meditation teacher who specializes in working with ADHD students and can guide you through the process. Maybe you find that your limited ability is partly caused by tightness in your body so you take up yoga to assist with the process.
Whatever your challenges are, taking ownership gives you a platform to dive deeper into those challenges and find powerful solutions that create real results.
EXAMPLE 4. COW DUNG DANCING
At the start of this article, I made a pretty bold claim and said you could literally cover your body in cow dung and dance naked under a street light on a train station and still get benefit from it. So, let’s round this out by playing with that example.
COW DUNG DANCING WITHOUT OWNERSHIP
If you can successfully dance on a train station under a street light covered in cow dung, you’re probably… Well, I don’t even know… Weird? Awesome? Somewhere in between? But, if you can’t, then failing to take ownership will result in another limiting and negative experience.
Maybe you’ll claim that people are too judgemental or it’s too hard to get cow dung in a major metropolitan area or the police are too rough and shouldn’t have covered your naked body with police tape.
Whatever your excuse, you’ll simply end up with another limiting experience that reinforces your view that the world is a tough, cruel, and scary place.
COW DUNG DANCING WITH OWNERSHIP
If your dancing goes well, great. But if it doesn’t, taking ownership gives you an avenue to learn and grow and develop through the process.
Maybe you realise that you’re still too dependent on other people’s opinions and need to connect more deeply with your vision of your ideal life. Maybe you realise that you don’t spend enough time in the country where it’s easier to get cow dung. Maybe you discover you look great in police tape and politely ask for a roll or two to update your wardrobe.
Whatever it is, taking ownership helps you learn a valuable lesson, gain a deep insight into the limitations and challenges of your current mindset, and are left with an action plan to continue to move forward.
HOW TO TAKE OWNERSHIP
You know the problem. You know the solution. You know the benefits of the solution. You can see how it plays out in real life. Now, the important part: how to.
While it might seem simple given the fact that ownership is simply choosing to focus on what you contribute rather than focussing on things outside your control, there are three key steps in the process.
STEP 1. COMMIT TO TAKING OWNERSHIP
The first step in adding the critical skill of ownership to your life-transformation quiver is simply committing to doing so. Ownership isn’t complicated, ownership isn’t intricate, but it does require a mental commitment on your behalf.
You have to consciously and completely decide that you’re going to give up the easy and continually frustrating path of focussing on things you can’t control and focus your entire attention solely on things you do control: your thoughts, decisions, actions, intentions, and attitude.
So, as the first step: are you willing to take full ownership of your life situation, life experience, and life trajectory by committing solely to focussing your attention on your contribution to your frustrating, challenging, and difficult life experiences?
If not because you want to keep banging your head up against the same issues, over and over again, or you’d prefer to try your hand at trying to convince everyone you will ever meet to change the way they live their life, just to make you happy, you can stop here. The information below will be no use to you.
If you’re ready to start rapidly eliminating your frustrating and challenging life situations and gain a sense of power and control over your entire world, continue to the next step.
STEP 2. FOCUS CONTROL
Commiting to taking 100% ownership of your life is a powerful step, but completely useless if, in the noise and distractions that bombard us at every angle in our modern, advertising-driven, capitalist society, you simply forget to do so. This is why the next step in taking ownership is learning to control your focus.
Your focus is a spot light you shine on some piece of information or sensation that enters your world in any moment. In this moment, you could focus it on:
- That strange humming noise coming from your right
- The objects and activity behind this screen
- The commentary playing inside your head about this article and my poor grammar
- The pressure on your feet
- The tightness in your lower back
- That important task you should be doing but are ignoring by reading this article
- The opinions of those around you who are judging you as you read this article
- Your own opinions of how much time you’ve wasted and how much better your life would be right now if you’d learnt this at high school
- The temperature of the air as it creeps inside your clothing and caresses your exposed skin
All of these different things exist in this very moment and you can focus on any of them. Focus control is skill of consciously choosing which one you direct your attention to. It’s learning to control your mental spotlight to pick and choose between the 11 million bits of information that flood your senses in any moment and it’s critical to taking ownership.
If taking ownership isn’t your default mental pathway (which I’m guessing it isn’t if you’re reading this article), it means you have a lot of experience focussing on contributions outside your control. This experience means the pathway in your brain for directing your attention and assigning responsibility to others will be deeply ingrained and you will default to this pathway unless you consciously decide to direct your focus elsewhere.
The only way to shift that pathway is to consciously direct your focus to your contributions regardless of default patterns. It’s to consciously choose which piece of information or sensation you want to highlight (in this case: your contributions) and resting your awareness on it, despite your default and automatic patterns. Repeating this process over a long enough period of time (it’s different for each person) will reinforce the new pathway of ownership and make it your default pattern.
The first time you attempt to consciously control your focus, you will probably find it difficult. You will probably find that you’re continuously pulled back to your old patterns as you’re easily distracted by bright lights and high emotions. If you do, that’s ok. It just means you need to practice. Focus control is a skill and like any skill, you need to practice in order to improve.
You can practice the skill of focus control when you find yourself in a difficult and challenging situation and need to identify your contributions, but trying to call on this skill in your moments of need is a strategy that will bring you limited success. It’s like waiting till you’re standing on a basketball court with 12 seconds to go, trailing by 1 point, with LeBron James staring you down, and deciding that’s a good time to learn how to shoot. Not really going to be that effective.
The best time to practice any skill is in an environment where you can control the level of difficulty and reduce challenges to allow you to push yourself beyond your skill level, but without freaking out. With a beginner learning focus control, that environment is going to be your bedroom or other quiet space, first thing in the morning. This is a useful time to practice because firstly, your brain is typically calmer making it easier to control your focus, and secondly, the progress you make will carry over throughout your day, making it easier to call on the skill when you need.
So, as the second step: set aside 15 minutes tomorrow morning to practice the skill of focus control. Find a guided meditation on YouTube (stay away from anything related to visualisation, affirmations, or gratitude as they’re more likely to get you stuck in your head), get yourself into a comfortable position, and work your way through the audio.
Alternatively, if you’re the kind of person who thrives with detailed instructions and a guided meditation specifically designed to improve your focus control, you can join our focus control challenge here. Inside, you’ll find three different levels of challenge to help develop the skill of focus control, tips and guidance on how to overcome most of the common obstacles and improve your chances of success, and a dedicated support community to answer any question.
Check it out here: Focus Control Challenge
STEP 3. PUT IT INTO PRACTICE
Developing focus control in the safe and secure confines of your bedroom is a powerful step but means absolutely nothing until you take that skill, combine it with the commitment you made in step one, and consciously direct your attention to your contributions to your frustrating and challenging life experiences. This is why the final step is to actually do the thing you need to do to change your life.
So, as the third step: Don’t mess around telling yourself you’ll start next week or when you feel properly motivated or when venus aligns with the third trimester of something or other, you need to take action. You need to put yourself in a difficult, challenging, and frustrating situation, and when your automatic response kicks in to focus on contributions outside your control, interrupt that pattern by consciously choosing to identify your contributions to your situation and experience.
Once you’ve done that, do it again. Put yourself right back in the firing line and work through the progression once again. And then, do it again. And again. And again. And keep going to for 60+ days until it’s your default way of engaging with your life challenges. Because, it’s the only way to ever escape the personal development hamster wheel and rapidly transform your entire life.
Once again, if you’re the kind of person who thrives with detailed and specific instructions that walk you through a process aided by a dedicated support community, you need to check out the ownership challenge. It’s a structured program designed to work with you at your current level and help you develop this critical skill, with tips on how to overcome the most common challenges and aided by a dedicated support community to answer your questions and issues.
If you’re ready to take control of your entire life and start making rapid progress towards the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of, start here: Ownership Challenge
P.S. If you’re still unsure of how ownership can help you transform your life and want to see how it applies to another example, note it down in the comments and I’ll add it in when I get a minute.