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Finding What You Can Control Is An Essential Part Of Your Happiness…

By Steve Beseke, senior vice president at think2perform –

What can you ultimately control in your life and career?

As I reflected on this question, I thought back to my early childhood. In the 1960s, I was a student at a very nice crippled school for children in Minneapolis – that’s what society called such schools back then.

I, of course, never worried about my resilience and how my life or career would blossom. I just wanted to be the first one on the playground after lunch. Michael Dowling School was one of the most progressive of the era – and today – and I could have stayed there throughout my early school years.

But my parents wanted me to reach my ultimate potential without having all the bumps in life softened. That’s why they transferred me into a normal school in the third grade. Although I have a lifelong physical disability (Cerebral Palsy), they did not want me to overly dwell on its significance. While you may not have a disability, I’m sure your parents also wanted you to reach the heights of your talents just the same and be resilient in life.
As all of us reflect on the sometimes hairpin turns of our lives and careers, I have found there are only three things you can totally control in your life.

You may think at least one is your job. You are getting great performance reviews and have survived the seven rounds of layoff cycles at your company. It’s not. Or, it may be your overall career and work path in the next one, five, or 10 years. It’s not. Or, for sure, it has to be your family. You have a very successful marriage and 2.3 children who are not driving you too insane. It’s not.

As I was mainstreamed into a normal elementary school at age 10, there were only three things I could truly control – my attitude, my values and how I related to people. Of course, at the time, I was too young to understand these phrases. I did realize – as all of us should in our daily and work lives today – that I had to adapt to sometimes unforeseen circumstances I could not always fully control.

Look at yourself today: Can you ultimately control how your boss reacts to an assignment you just completed? Do you have total control of how your work reports spend their time? Can you have a meaningful conversation with your drama queen or king teenager? Can you control how you ultimately react to the three situations? The first three questions are most likely “no’s”. The fourth question – I have found through experience is a definite “yes” if you apply your life skills’ mindset. While you can influence, none of us can ultimately control people. We can, however, control how we ultimately react to situations.

I began to learn the resilient strategies of adaptability, staying in control, perseverance, persistence and patience (to name a few) when I was mainstreamed into a normal elementary school in the 1060s. While not knowing it at the time, these inner-strategies helped me survive through occasionally painful instances in school and signature times in my work career.

All of us have examples of challenging moments in our lives and careers. Ones we’d like to forget, but those that force us to use our life skills to make it through layoffs, a relationship ending or that momentous conversation with your drama queen teenager.

How can you learn from your past experiences to enhance your resilience today, and navigate through the currents of life and career?

While many of you may have more challenging life examples than mine, being moved into a normal school at an early age ultimately helped me with my life and career life skills today.

My early life taught me key lessons. I was 10 years old in 1969 and was escorted to my classroom on the first day of third grade. All the other kids were in the gym listening to the Principal welcoming them to the new school year.

The kids finally came to the classroom and the first one said after seeing me seated at my desk: “Why are you here…are you some sissy who can’t get to the gym?” Well, after a few minutes, the teacher asked me to walk up to the front of the room to introduce myself. Everyone laughed and said, ”Why do you walk so funny?”

That night was the first of many that I cried myself to sleep because I did not understand what was wrong with me and why the kids were being so mean. While my parents were extremely loving and supportive, this brought me to the “Naked Truth.” A reality – a signature moment – that would have a profound affect on my entire life.
Even though I was so young, I remember thinking that I was not going to let the constant teasing ruin my life. I could not control what my classmates were saying. But I could control how I reacted to the taunts.

Fast-forward a few years:

I now have been married nearly 30 years to a beautiful able-bodied woman, and we have that terrific teenage daughter I have talked about and two dachshund dogs. A terrific life…
This from a guy who was close to not making it out of the incubator because of a series of complications after being born. Resilience is a blessing!

One last personal example: A classmate told me I should not take any advanced classes in high school because “my kind” only works at menial jobs suited for them. As I have moved on in my career as a corporate communications executive and resiliency speaker/writer, I have very, very humbly been extremely successful.

The point of such stories – and one all of us can learn from – is reaching your ultimate potential in life and career is not just about talent, hard work and a possible lucky break or two. It is understanding what you can control, and being more adaptable, preserving, persistent, patient, and not dwelling on the inevitable negatives sprinkled through our lives.

My parents allowed me to reach for the stars – even today as I speak to great folks like you worldwide about applying life skills better. I hope you understand your control triggers, and use the life strategies I have mentioned. They will help you to continue successfully working through your own life and career ups and downs.

Again I ask: What can you ultimately control in your life and career? The way you answer will help maintain the happiness and success you deserve – every day.

Thanks, again, for your consistent support of my perspectives and life skills’ work. To learn more about me, click on the link

Also take a look at my firm, thibk2perform – We are worldwide management consultants proving leadership, emotional intelligence and life skills’ training to corporation, organizations and individuals. Call me at 651-341-9826 so I can tell you how we can make your world better. Or, send me an e-mail at

I also encourage you to check out by life skills’ e-books at resiliencyfirst,com.

Live life to the fullest!

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