What is the meaning of these last two lines of the Invictus poem? It simply means that I solely have control over shaping my feelings, thoughts, behaviours and over my destiny, despite my circumstances. It is important that we put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our own life and give ourselves the control to choose our final destiny, because this gives you and me the freedom to live life our way.

Taking charge of your life is one of the most important things anyone can do to make a success of their self-leadership journey and it is also the first step towards living a purpose-driven life… If we don’t take charge of our lives, then we become like a floating wine cork on the surface of the sea, without providing any resistance to the various forces in life that push us around and in different directions.

John Atkinson Grimshaw was a self-taught English Victorian-era artist and is today considered one of the great painters of the Victorian era. In 1861, at the age of 24, to the dismay of his parents, he left his job as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway to become a painter. When Grimshaw died, he left behind no letters, journals or papers. His reputation rested on, and his legacy is based on, his townscapes and a jewel of a quote that he left us with:

If you don’t run your own life, somebody else will.” – John Grimshaw

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions to take charge of our lives, which is not easy. If we start living life with serious intent though, then we don’t run the risk of becoming a slave to something else or to someone else. Bill Gates said that we are not in competition with anyone else, but ourselves, and that our goal should be to improve ourselves continuously.

“Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

Our focus, most importantly, should therefore be on taking charge of improving the leadership of ourselves, as part of continually improving as individuals. If we want to compare, the only comparison we should make, is to compare ourselves to who we were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. Only ever compare yourself to your own best possible self.

“Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” – Ray Kroc

To rely on luck is an unsustainable, short-term solution in life. Ask all those people who won millions in the lotto years ago, that cannot show anything for it today. If we are waiting for luck to arrive to make the change that we think we want or need in our lives, then we will wait for a very long time and ultimately, we will be disappointed. To work hard, to take charge of our life and start leading ourselves on the other hand is not necessarily easy, but it is a good starting point for successful living.

“If I would have listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

If we are worrying about what other people think, then it implies that we cannot entirely take charge of our lives. Yes, we need to consider what others say, but to give them the power to take charge of our lives in this way, instead of us taking charge and being focused on chasing our dreams, our purpose in life and our personal goals, would be a colossal mistake and certainly be to our detriment.

When I take charge of my life it is a good sign that I believe I am self-reliant and that I have autonomy to make my own decisions in life. I also then become accountable and believe that if I make a decision in life, I am willing to take the consequences. The decision to always take charge of my feelings, thoughts and the way I behave to ultimately ensure that I achieve what I want to achieve at work, at home and in any other area of my life, gives us a great amount of peace and a feeling of being content, which is something that is priceless.

Written by:

Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD.

“Look out for my exciting Self-Leadership book launch in August 2021”

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