Donald Miller the author of Business Made Simple and suggests that you can predict if someone is going to be successful in life by whether they position themselves more as the hero than the victim.
Imagine the traditional storyline of a hero who needs to overcome some kind of challenge. They meet a guide that helps them. There are villains that try to stop their progress and there are also victims who need rescuing that don't ever reach the reward like the hero.
When things aren’t going right it can be really easy to position yourself as the victim.
You probably know a few people who are serial victims. They are the type of person who blames others for them not succeeding or believe that fate had dealt them a bad hand. While there are absolutely times in everyone's life where they are real victims it's something that should be avoided for a few reasons. Firstly, there are real victims out there, people who really do have oppressors. Secondly, the victim never wins. Victims have a part of the story, to make the villains look bad and the hero look good.
“The difference between being a victim and a hero is that a victim lies down while the hero rises up and succeeds against all the challenges and oppressors.”
Most successful people don’t see themselves as victims. If you mentally position yourself as the hardworking hero on a mission then you are more likely to win. Even when villains try to stop your progress, these become obstacles that are overcome thus adding to your integrity as the hero.
“I ask that you choose not to see yourself as a victim. It will end your personal development. It’s true that some people have to overcome more than others. But the more you overcome, the greater your heroic story.”
This idea of framing yourself as a character in a story is a helpful one. The last few months have felt like a roller coaster ride of roles - victim, hero, villain and guide. Being able to take a step back from the situation you're in and doing a quick character assessment (who am I right now) can be a really great way of making your next move a good one.
What would a hero do? Can I be a guide for someone? Being a guide is second best to being the hero. Being a helpful part of other people's stories is a reward in itself. When you make others around you successful you ultimately increase your own success. Great leaders are normally great guides and not necessarily the heroes.
There are several times this week when I actually stopped in my tracks and said out loud - ‘Don’t be the victim Jess! What would a hero do?’ I have a tendency to default into a victim mindset and framing myself as a character really helps to remove the immediate emotion and gain clarity on what to do next.
Another lesson in the course that resonated is about choosing NOT to be confused about the right decision. Quite often we chose to be confused because making the right decision is hard. Think about if you had to let someone go in your organization because they were underperforming. People tend to agonise over such a decision. We chose to confuse because firing the person isn’t nice. If you used the best friend question - what would I tell my best friend to do in this situation? You’d quickly discover letting the person go is the best thing to do.
Most of the time we are confused because we are either people pleasing (people aren't going to like this decision), we don’t want to lose face or we fear the repercussions. Sometimes just acknowledging the reasons we are confused is enough to cause a break in the clouds and shine a little light on the answer we know is the right one.
“Successful people do not live in confusion; they live in clarity.”