I have been asked, “what was the main take away from the Train the Trainer program”. For me, it is clearly “Take 100% responsibility for your life,” and its back up, “act as if”. I spent many years in blame and self-pity, and spent hundreds of hours developing excuses and cogent arguments about why my problems were not my fault.

That all changed when I read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I am pretty sure however, I could have ignored it for being too harsh, or inflexible. This is why the “Act as if “part of the puzzle gave me a chance as Jack says “to lean into it”. This gave me an opportunity to take on new information without having to change my whole belief system.

As I started to use the course, and then espouse it, it started to transform my outlook and my actions. It also transformed my work as a coach. If you are 100% responsible for your life, you can make changes going forward. You can focus on the future, not the past. The previous model of spending months or years on a doctor’s couch pretending to accept what you had become, started to seem less reasonable.

Being able to use the equation E+R=O provided a tremendous shorthand to explain, and to remind myself and others, that it is your reaction to the events, and not the events themselves, which lead to outcomes. If somebody wants to understand this point even more clearly, I point them to Dr. Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning which is about his experiences while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp and his reactions to those experiences.  Clearly, if anyone had a right to play the victim card it was Dr. Frankl. To this day, Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the most important self-help books ever written.

“Act as if” keeps you from being bogged down in hypotheticals. You don’t need to believe that the premise is true, or even true for you, you are only being asked to “act as if”.  And by extension, “acting as if” makes it true for you. How many events have I rehearsed and re-lived the event that I believed was the defining moment, only to find others who shared the same event had a different response, and also different outcomes. This became even more real for me by studying children of alcoholics; same events, different outcomes.

I have found the freedom to choose my responses has made a real difference in my life.  By doing this, I am able to somewhat control the outcomes, as well as avoiding the feeling of helplessness that many feel while ping-ponging  from event to event. I quickly learned that responsibility was not the same as blame. These are two very different things. I have been able to avoid self-flagellation and martyrdom to arrive at a stronger and healthier place.

By adding a pause between an event and my response, I have been able to add clarity to the situation, which often gave me less to apologize for, as well as spending less time feeling or acting the “victim”. I am now able to teach this, because I am striving to live this. I also found that understanding these principles first was an excellent foundation to learning and teaching the principles in The Success Principles.