It’s You versus You
Victimhood is a mind-set. It’s an attitude you hold that pushes you to make certain decisions or act a certain way. Victimhood is when the world happens to you. It’s when you depend on the world to dictate your life. Victimhood is when you wait for the world to provide you with the tools to move forward. It’s when you cede control to someone or something.
Here’s the thing: When you let the world have the power, you’re playing Russian roulette with your life. You don’t know where you’re going to land because you are not steering the car. But when you begin to take control, you’ll find that you have the power to change your outlook and become a victor in your journey.
There are going to be plenty of times in your life when things go sideways. There are going to be times when you feel hurt. And you’re allowed to be hurt. You can be upset and angry. But feelings are not facts. They are feelings. Facts are how you can move through your feelings.
You can be angry, but be angry in your house. Be in angry in your bedroom. You can be upset, but be upset with air conditioning and a roof over your head. You can be sad, but be sad with meals on the table and clean clothes on your back. You don’t need to sabotage your whole life to have your feelings. You can have your feelings, but you don’t need to be a victim.
You Are Never in It by Yourself
Aloneness is part of the victim mentality. This is the mind-set of someone to whom things are happening. When you act like a victim, you close yourself off to communication and relationships. You pit yourself against the world. You dig yourself into a dark hole where no one else can see you or touch you. You close yourself off to potential solutions. But, in reality, you are never in it by yourself. The perception that it’s you against the world is a construct. The world does not conspire against you. You conspire against you. It’s you versus you. Nobody can tell you that you’re alone but you.
Seeing the people around you clearly is necessary to combat the victim mentality. When you tell yourself you’re alone, it can be easy to slip into relationships that are false or that fulfill a surface desire for praise or company or pleasure. In constantly evaluating your own behaviors and patterns and seeking evidence over emotion, not only will you be able to see yourself better, but you’ll also gain a clearer view of the people who surround you.
Discover Your Superpower
Even when other people don’t recognize your gift, or the outside world doesn’t validate it, you have to know with every fiber of your being that you are doing what is right for you. Trends come and go. Sometimes light skin is in. Sometimes dark skin is in. Sometimes it’s short hair and sometimes it’s long. You can’t worry about what the world thinks is cool right now. You can only worry about you.
It should feel like a romantic relationship. You can’t be number one in the world if you aren’t obsessed with your gift. You can’t be the best at what you do if you don’t honor your gift. If you’re going to contribute to your field or advance the game or get mentioned with the greats before you, you have to be dedicated to getting up every morning and taking care of it. Like any relationship that’s worthwhile, your relationship with your gift requires work. If you get complacent and don’t work at it, your gift will go fallow. Even if you are naturally good at what you do, that is not enough. You have to work at it and you have to want more.
There are plenty of people who, with very little instruction, can hear a song, pick up a guitar, and play. But unless they get into their gift and practice, they’re never going to play like Jimi Hendrix. Plenty of people can open their mouths and sing beautifully. But if they don’t get obsessed with the gift of it, they’re never going to get to Beyoncé-level. Steph Curry was born with the ability to throw and sprint, but if he hadn’t worked at it and gotten consumed by it, he wouldn’t be the NBA legend he’s become. Serena Williams was always going to be able to smash a tennis ball, but had she not put in the grueling hours of somebody who wants to win, she wouldn’t have the accuracy or grace she shows up with on the court today.
Sacrifice Good for Great
Good is good, but good doesn’t get you the championship. Good is good, but good doesn’t get you into the job of president or CEO. Good is good, but it doesn’t qualify you for the Olympics. Good is good, but it isn’t great. Almost anyone can get something good, but if you want to keep moving forward and level up, you’re going to have to come to grips with abandoning good for great.
Now watch this: Kobe Bryant said that if you want to be great, you have to be obsessed with it. To go from good to great, you must be obsessed with whatever it is you want to be great at. If you want it, you will never settle for good. You will instantly recognize the measure of goodness against greatness and you will intuitively move beyond mere goodness to the level you are reaching for. You have to be willing to let go of predictability and stability. You have to be okay with the feeling of discomfort. You must be like an athlete in the throes of training. You push your mind and your body to their limits to get to the next level of competition. You must have the courage to take yourself beyond average. You owe it to yourself to gather this courage and move toward greatness.
The thing you have to keep sight of in sacrificing good for great is the present moment. Always be where your feet are. The best version of you is actually where your feet are. But if you aren’t always developing and growing and changing, you will still be standing in the same place for eternity. Where your feet are will eventually expire.
You Are a Business
When you think about corporations or brands, you see a product or a service first. A car. A purse. A shampoo. But if you look behind those products and services, there were people first: Henry Ford, Louis Vuitton, Johnson & Johnson. A business is the physical manifestation of a mind and a vision. You can look at a company and see its parking lot and its building and its desks and its elevators, but all of this is somebody’s thoughts and dreams actualized. Shifting your mind into business mode means thinking about yourself as a business.
For those of us who grew up working class, you aren’t raised with the idea of seeing yourself as a business. You see yourself as a worker. You see your value in terms of working for somebody else. When you’re working class, you decide to give your youth—your twenties and thirties and then some—to somebody else’s company. You decide to give your energy and your strength to somebody else’s vision. You decide to give your natural gifts to promote somebody else’s bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with helping somebody else achieve their vision or their goal, as long as it doesn’t keep you from achieving your own vision and goal. If you give of yourself without boundaries, you are doing so without clarity about what you want for yourself.
Once you’ve shifted to see yourself as a business, you need to think practically. Where do you see yourself in business? Which industry? Specifically, what are your gifts and who can benefit from them? What is your product? In which market does your product belong?
You Owe You
Nobody owes you time but you. You are the only person who will make time for yourself. What does this look like within the reality of life? Start your day by getting centered. Imagine a piece of paper with a dot at the very center. You are the dot. There will be many things that try to move you away from the center, pull you to the edges. Your job every day is to stay as centered and focused as possible. You can’t wake up and think, I need to make this money. The treasury prints money every day, but they don’t print peace or joy or happiness. You can go to Walmart and buy a watch or to Louis Vuitton and buy a purse. But you can’t go out and buy your own fulfillment. When you’re centered, you can see yourself, you can see where you’re supposed to go, you can see your future unfold before you.
Think about what your day looks like. Visualize what fulfillment will mean for you today. Paint a picture of the ideal day. And if you’re not there yet, if you can’t have your ideal day yet, think about what today needs to look like to get to that ideal day next week, next month, next year. Think about what your week looks like. What do you need to do to get to the next level? What does your month look like? Your year? Make a plan to get yourself on track. Nobody is going to make your plans but you. And you owe it to yourself to be the center of your own plan.
When you have a blueprint—your values, your beliefs, your focus, your self-knowledge—then you must set a standard. You owe it to yourself to constantly evaluate your own performance and the way you spend your time. Goals are good, but standards will get you to the next level.
Now is the time to do the work. Now is the time to dream of what greatness lies ahead. But not only to dream—to become your dream. To become great. The time has come to take hold of your life. The time has come to step into yourself. To begin living life the way that only you can live it. The time has come to become you.