One day, Frederick William I, King of Prussia from 1713–1740, visited a prison in Potsdam, talking to the prisoners there to understand their plight.
As he went from one cell to the next, each prisoner pleaded his innocence to the king, and each attributing his current predicament to various factors such as society, poverty or injustice.
Weary of all the excuses and complaints that he had repeatedly heard, the king finally came to a cell where the inmate remained silent. He remarked, “Well, I suppose you’re innocent too?” However the inmate replied, “No, Your Majesty. I am guilty and deserve all that I get.”
Alarmed, the king immediately ordered for the inmate to be freed, saying, “Quick, release this rascal before he corrupts all the other innocent people in here!”
The Buck Stops Here
Now I have no idea if that was a true story, but the lesson is real. Do we, like many of these prisoners, tend to play the blame game for the problems or failures that we face in our life?
No doubt, we may indeed be victims of circumstances that are beyond our control. But by engaging in finger-pointing, negativity and self-pity, we end up imprisoning our own minds and further trapping ourselves in seemingly hopeless situations.
While there aren’t a lot of things we can do about our surroundings and circumstances that life may deal us, there’s something we can definitely do about ourselves, starting with our attitude and mentality.
Here are 3 things you can immediately act upon to improve your situation:
1) Focus on finding solutions
Instead of wasting time and energy on complaining, devote your efforts on seeking out solutions and trying out new things. You’d be surprised at what you never thought could be done.
2) View problems as opportunities
A simple switch in your mindset can do wonders. Treating your problems as burdens can demoralise, irritate and stress you out. Looking upon them as opportunities however motivates you to work harder and smarter, exciting you in the process!
3) Be a positive influence
King Frederick William I from the earlier story knew all about the power of influence. He was not going to allow all the negativity among the prisoners to contaminate the only inmate who was willing to accept responsibility!
Leaders who carry a ball of negative energy around them will hardly inspire their team. They will only end up reaping what they sow by drawing negative attention back to themselves. Instead, aim to be the most positive person on your team. Encourage your teammates and let them know that you are not about to give up when the going gets tough. If you can lift and influence others positively, you will become a leader many would love to follow.
As Zig Ziglar loved to say,
Positive thinking won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
Your attitude matters indeed!