A month ago I witnessed Eric Thomas, “the hip-hop preacher,” make a profound statement to a room full of hopeful entrepreneurs (I’m paraphrasing here, but it went something like this): People who make excuses for their actions are acting like children, and those who own the decisions they’ve made and the outcomes of those decisions, whether favorable or not, are adults.
He whittled down adulthood to such a simple notion, but it is profoundly true. In the time since this conference, I have tried to implement this ideology into my actions in every way possible, to take ownership of my life, and here are some basic ways you can too:
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If you want to own your professional life, you’ve got to own your victories and your losses equally. Imagine a project you’ve been assigned to goes awry, and your manager wants to know what happened. You’re nervous, and you’re burning up with embarrassment, so you start defending your actions with an excuse. In retrospect, you didn’t have all the correct information to complete the project, or your coworker told you the work looked great and you trusted them. When you approach your manager’s question with defensive excuses, you’re diminishing yourself and everyone involved.
It is in moments like these that our true character is brought to the light. When we act appropriately, our trustworthiness and team-player spirit are on full display. So the next time you make a mistake at work and your manager wants to know what happened, remember that the mature choice is to own up to the mistake, explain what you did wrong and how you could have handled things better. Follow-up by assuring your manager that you have learned from your mistake and that you will behave more wisely in the future.
Friends were easy to maintain in our late teens and early twenties, but with adulthood comes plenty of time-consuming responsibilities. With age, we may lose our ability to see our friends at our leisure. It’s important to sustain these relationships, despite the demands of our schedules. If you have close friends but fail to make time for them, be honest with yourself about it. Your friends are your support system and your relationship with them requires nurturing. If you’re not dedicating time to being a good friend, then you’ve got to be willing to own the consequences when you find yourself without them. Honestly examine how close you are to each friend and in turn assess the time you are willing to give to them. Only you can decide who deserves those efforts as you grow older.
No one claims that a committed relationship is an easy road to travel, but two of the key components of any growing partnership is quality communication and time together. If you find yourself drifting away from your loved one (or vice versa), reflect on how focused you’ve been on your partner’s needs. Forget the arguments and situations that frustrate you and take a good look at how you conduct yourself in the relationship. Are you the best partner you possibly can be? Are you giving your full attention and showing interest in your partner when you are together? Own your part of the situation and focus on positive things you can do to make the relationship grow.
Overall, as we grow into our 30s, 40s, 50s and so on, we never stop learning and evolving. With adulthood we’d hope to have it all “figured out,” but the reality is, it’s not possible. If we conduct ourselves honestly and openly — understanding that every action we make will draw forth specific outcomes, energies and reactions — and we own those actions and are fully prepared to take on the possible consequences, then we truly are doing the best we can.
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