THE BLOG
06/14/2010 08:40 am ET | Updated Mar 20, 2015

What Business Is It Of Mine What You Do With Your Life?

One of the fascinating aspects of writing these weekly articles is the range of reactions I receive each week, both in the comments posted and the email I receive.

Some think I'm getting rich offering "drivel" while others decry anything having to do with a person taking a positive approach to changing their life circumstances. Getting rich writing articles for free is a great idea. There must be a secret I'm still missing on this one. Maybe my critics will be gracious enough to point out what else I need to do?

Anyway, I digress. A comment that has showed up a couple of times in my email following recent articles goes something like this: "What business do you have telling other people how they should live their lives?"

Great question. I mean, really, a great question.

It's none of my business what you do your life. Or anyone else for that matter. Occasionally the choices that one of us makes winds up impacting others, but for the most part, no one notices. Well, almost no one.

The one person who is sure to notice the impact of your choices should be obvious - you. Of course, not everyone is sufficiently aware to notice that consequences tend to follow actions, which tend to follow choices.

If it's none of my business, then why write these articles?

The answer is rather simple, really. Over the years, many people have benefited from the kind of information that I have been sharing. For one set of critics out there, please allow me to be clear here: there's nothing new about any of this information - it's been around forever and can be found in thousands of books, myriad seminars and simple country wisdom.

The point of sharing this information is quite personal for me. Until I heard it for the first time, it was new to me. Not new to the world, just new to me. In fact, the first time I heard some of this advice about knowing the difference between what you want and why you want it, about having the ability to respond (response-ability), and the power of choice, I thought it was all a load of bovine excrement.

I later learned that what made it so easy to reject this timeless wisdom came down to the simple fact that if I accepted it, then not only would I have to make new choices but I would also have to accept responsibility for remaining stuck in my then unhappy circumstances.

As my awareness expanded, I found that, indeed, I could make a significant difference in my own life simply through a combination of awareness, maintaining a positive focus (very difficult given my ability to find fault in anything), and taking micro steps forward. Over the ensuing decade, I also discovered that I had a knack for helping others learn and apply these same life lessons.

I would end up leading seminars, first from my own living room, and later in seminar rooms around the world. The focus has always been the same: expand your awareness, notice the difference between what you think you want and why you want it, and start taking steps (making choices) toward the life experience you truly seek.

As more and more people began to benefit from the way I had of sharing this information, many began asking me to write about it, both as a set of reminders for themselves, as well as adding to the collection of writings on the subject for those would themselves find the information "new."

Well, let's just say that I resisted these requests for a little bit. 32 years to be precise. Finally, when Arianna asked me yet again to offer these insights in the form of a blog for HuffPost, I finally started writing in the summer of 2008.

It really is none of my business what you do with your life. I simply share this information with you because you might be able to use it in a way that could make a meaningful difference to you. Just as I am grateful for those who have kept this kind of information alive and available, I am also grateful for the opportunity to pass it along to those who might find value in it.

Here's an email I received last week from a reader in Springfield, Missouri:

Russell,


I really enjoyed the article you wrote regarding re-framing thoughts into positive action.

I participated in and then moderated a leadership course a couple of years ago. One of the things that impacted me the most was from the book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. It is the thought that you can decide how you are going to react in any given situation when many people believe they have no choice in their reactions.

In September of 2008 after being in the insurance field for twenty-two years, I decided that being good at something was not enough reason to stay in that field. I completely switched gears and went into business with my daughter, Candice Carson.

We have a restaurant. Neither of us had any restaurant experience but she is a good cook and I'm a good sales person so I figured we would be fine. On September 1st we signed the lease for our restaurant. A few weeks later the economy imploded and there wasn't a dime to be had from any person, bank or otherwise. We looked around and decided that it was a great opportunity to keep our price point slightly below our competition but raise our quality of food and service. (I've eaten out enough to know how terrible service can be.)

With no thoughts of failure or even the possibility of failure, we opened our doors on December 1st. The first few weeks felt like acts of futility. We would get up and arrive at 5:00 AM to bake our pastries and make our fresh soups, etc. and then at the end of the day we would have to throw it out. This happened for one week.

At the end of the week I said "Okay, I'm going to sell some food." Out the door I went with samples of our Cinnamon Rolls and Pumpkin Bread. I would fill several "To Go" boxes and then write our "Special of the day" along with the price on the front and deliver to every place that had at least 5 or more employees. All of a sudden people started coming in. I told them we didn't have a marketing budget so word of mouth was our marketing. "If you like the food please come back and bring a friend." Every day someone would come in and tell me they had brought a friend and new customer.

By February 1st we were breaking even and all the bills were being paid. I was only angry because I thought we should be breaking even the moment we opened our doors. I had no idea that normally wasn't the case. I learned that if you believe it can be done, then it can be done or what you don't know will not hinder you.

We have been open now for 18 months and we just expanded our restaurant. Things are going extremely well for us.

Oh, what I didn't mention was that my daughter was pregnant with her first child when we opened the restaurant. He was born February of 2009 just short of three months after our opening. I am extremely lucky to work with my daughter. We have a great staff and I love what I do. I'm very happy that I decided to re-frame my thinking.

Thanks again for the great article and for allowing me to tell you my story.

Deborah Bellotti
The Buzz Restaurant
Springfield, MO

I'm sure some readers will dismiss this delightful story from Deborah for any number of reasons. I'm thrilled that Deborah saw an opportunity where others might have seen roadblocks, and decided to do what she could to turn the opportunity side of the equation into a reality.

If you like this kind of approach to life, there's more available free of charge in my permanent HuffPost archive at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-bishop.

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.

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If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

You can buy Workarounds That Work here.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.