In every problem in our lives, one thing is constant. Every time someone does us dirty or messes something up, every time some stupid system or rule gets changed and it affects us, one thing is constant. When our job prevents us from making a workout or eating right – when outside forces keep us from spending time with our family and doing what we want to in our lives, one thing is constant.  The constant is us.

I am the common denominator.

And so are you.

I am the common thread in all my problems. So are you in yours.

When I talk to people about this they nod and agree.

“Oh that is so true,” they tell me.

“BUT …”

Then they explain why it’s not true for them. I know. I use the “but” sometimes too.

We all know people that are always angry at someone else for what they are or aren’t doing.

“Everything would be better if she would just … ”

See, I think as human beings with a self-image, we hate the idea that we are the problem. While our logical minds understand that there are things we are doing to screw things up, our egos, the side that deals with our beliefs about ourselves, fights the idea. It is more comfortable to blame our problem on someone else than to take action to really solve it.

If it is time to make a change, will it be easier to change yourself, the only thing you completely control, or someone else, over whom you have no control?

A friend of mine, a Marine, put it to me this way, “If things are fu***d up, un-f**k yourself first.”

Translated: “You are the common denominator.”

The issue is simply one of perception.

You are the you you choose to be. But you are not the you you think you are. That is why this concept is so difficult to accept sometimes. Accepting that you are responsible for what happens, or at a minimum how you respond to it, means that you are not the you you think you are. Most of us see ourselves as capable. If we were capable, we wouldn’t have these problems. It must be someone else’s fault. We don’t like to question our perception of ourselves, our identities. Admitting it is our fault not someone else’s means we may not be who we thought we were.

But it doesn’t matter if we don’t like it or it makes us uncomfortable or we don’t believe it. It still is. And you can read this and tell me it’s wrong. It won’t matter. But it won’t change it either.

Years ago I read book called Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done. My favorite quote was this: “We don’t think ourselves into a new way of acting, we act ourselves into a new way of thinking.”

Daydreaming and planning are not action. Neither is complaining and bitching.

In your life, you are a participant, not a victim. Stop believing stuff happens to you and start making things happen for you. It is not someone else’s fault, even when it is.

Mahatma Gandhi said it clearest, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Grandiose? Maybe, but what if Gandhi wasn’t talking about the whole world? What if he just meant yours?

Even if you don’t think you can change the whole world, I hope you recognize that you can change yours.

Everything is a leadership issue — Lead.


Rick Randolph brings his experience as an entrepreneur, a police officer, and a defensive tactics trainer to his role as leadership coach with Forging Leaders. When he’s not spending time with his family or coaching clients, Rick can be found writing, building things, or adventuring in the outdoors. You can contact Rick at