I’ve talked before about a book I read titled The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. I recently checked out a book from the library also by Andrews that is like a guide-book to The Traveler’s Gift titled Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success. I haven’t read through the book in its entirety, but I wanted to write on the first point of the book… Taking responsibility for your own decisions. In The Traveler’s Gift, the first decision is “The Buck Stops Here”. Basically this decision is telling us to stop passing blame on others for the way our lives are. To stop saying, “Well it’s because of my upbringing,” or “My mother/father wasn’t there for me,” or whatever the case may be. In the book there are a few lines I want to quote and expound on: “In the future when I am tempted to ask the question, “Why me?” I will immediately counter with the answer, “Why not me?” Challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn. Problems are the common thread running through the lives of great men and women. In times of adversity, I will not have a problem to deal with; I will have a choice to make.” When tragedy strikes our lives we always want to ask “Why me?” In the Bible at Ecclesiastes 9:11,12 it says: 11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:  As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. None of us know when, where or how unexpected happenings will occur in our lives. We just have to be prepared at those times to not ask “Why me?”, but “Why not me?”

Through reading this book, I learned quite a bit. In the first decision alone, I was able to see that where I am today is not because of any hidden (or open) circumstance that happened in my past, but because of the decisions I’ve made for my life. From working at my first job as a teenager, to having sex at a young age and getting pregnant, to the way I raise my children, and even to how I manage (or mismanage) my finances. All of these areas are key to where I am in my life currently. I’ve made many decisions that have affected the lifestyle I live, the friends I have, and the people that my children are becoming. I look at it this way. Not everyone has the same story. Mine is as different as yours or the next person’s. But what I have come to realize is that our past circumstance does not have to define who we are or who we will be. Take this as an example. Two children, raised in the same household. Both treated the same by person who raised them, who was neither their mother or father. They were taught the same morals and values, ate the same foods and watched the same television shows. They basically had the same upbringing. While they both felt resentment for the parents who were never there for them, one chose to stay away from doing the wrong things, hanging out with the wrong crowds and getting into trouble; while the other did those wrong things, hung out with those wrong crowds, and got in to a whole lot of trouble. I believe it was Bill Cosby who said “It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.”

In closing I just want to say that it’s not about where you’ve come from or what you’ve been through, it’s about the choices you make in life. How you overcome adversity is the determining factor in being successful. Don’t be negative, don’t stay down on yourself, don’t second guess every little thing you do. Make sound, reasoned decisions and be consistent. Take responsibility for your own actions and decisions.

Since I didn’t do a separate blog post for my usual Monday Motto, I will throw it in here since it does fit the topic. ~Take responsibility for each decision you have made for your life. Don’t “pass the buck”.~