Your Life Is the Sum of Your Choices

I signed up to run the Country Music Half Marathon in January. The big race was on Saturday, April 28th. But I didn’t run.

A Man with Two Choices - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #17906987

Photo courtesy of ©

With the launch of my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, and several other projects in the works, I just didn’t have the time to do the distance training I needed to do in order to participate. (I have kept up with my normal running routine; I just haven’t done the extended distance work.)

On Saturday, several friends asked me how the half marathon had gone, including Andy Traub. Here was my exchange with him on Twitter.

Exchange with Andy Traub

This situation made me realize again the importance of owning my choices.

We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we respond. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived two-and-a-half years in Nazi concentration camps, made this case in his bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

It’s easy to subscribe to this in theory, but what about your specific situation? Are you willing to own it?

For example:

  • Are you in a job you hate, living for the weekends?
  • Are you unemployed or can’t find a job?
  • Are you stuck in a bad marriage or going through a divorce?
  • Are you overweight, out of shape, or sick?
  • Are you lacking deep, meaningful friendships?

I am not asking these questions to shame you. I have gone through my share of setbacks and failures.

  • I have been fired (more than once).
  • I have gone through a business failure.
  • I have felt stuck in a job I hated.
  • I have gone through a protracted and expensive IRS audit.
  • I had to have emergency surgery when my gall bladder ruptured.
  • I have had a child in rebellion and on drugs.
  • I have had two daughters with chronic illnesses.
  • I have lost money on three out of four houses I’ve owned.

No, my life has not been a bed of roses. I’ll bet yours hasn’t either.

But blaming our circumstances or other people—even when they are partly or almost totally responsible—only makes us victims. It robs us of our freedom and keeps us stuck.

There is a better way. Change is possible. It can begin today.

You don’t have to stay stuck in the state you are in.

But first, you must own your specific situation and take responsibility for the choices that led to it. Only then can you begin to create a different future.

Question: What situation do you need to own? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Cyberquill

    I always blame myself for my situation. Who else am I supposed to blame it on? But then people invariably tell me to stop being so hard on myself.  If we blame others, we’re told to own our circumstances. But if we own them, we’re told to stop “beating up on” ourselves.  Damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Is it possible to own your situation without beating yourself up? What would that make possible?

      • Cyberquill

        Of course it’s possible to own my situation without beating myself up. All I have to do is acknowledge that my past choices and thought patterns most likely contributed to the situation I’m in. Easiest thing in the world.

        But it seems the moment I acknowledge this aloud in as matter-of-factly a manner as I can effect, I’m immediately advised to stop beating myself up. It’s almost like a reflex.

        Here’s my theory:

        Anytime we’re unhappy about our circumstances, people want to help us make changes, and they instinctively start by trying to change our attitude, correctly assuming that our attitude may factor prominently in our plight.

        Therefore, if they detect the slightest tendency on our part to point fingers at others, they will recommend that we change focus and consider our own complicity in our situation, i.e., remind us that we have a lot more control over our lives than we may assume.

        On the other hand, if they detect the slightest tendency on our part to hold ourselves responsible for the fix we’re in, they will try to snap us out of it and assure us that it’s not all our “fault.”

        So I believe the common instinct of a helper is to (a) determine where the “patient” is coming from in terms of attribution of responsibility regarding their situation, and then (b) to steer them in the opposite direction in order to break their ostensibly ineffective attribution pattern, as the helper will naturally assume that if that pattern were effective, the patient would probably have extricated him- or herself from their bad situation already.

        In other words, if we’re in a bad place, a person trying to help us will most likely suggest that we point fingers in whatever direction we haven’t been pointing them so far.

        • Ksgilliland

             I think there is a differnce between blaming yourself and accepting it.  Once you accept your circumstances, you can move on.  If you blame yourself or others, you are still pointing fingers and it is harder to move forward.  I know it may seem like a thin line, but it is a line none the less. 


      • Dale Melchin

        Learning from your mistakes.  After I became a Christian (when I was 13) I simultaneously loosed up and tightened up on myself.  Loosened up because I believed (and still believe that God forgives all sin if we repent.  However, for that same reason I held myself to a higher standard.  However, as  I got older, I started to beat myself up more especially when I went through my Calvinistic cage stage (sorry if anyone here is a Calvinist, it was a worldview that didn’t sit well with my theological stomach) I stopped cutting myself so much slack, and I forgot about grace.

        So to your question, what would own the situation without beating yourself up?  Everything. You become open to learn from your mistakes,  and the opportunity to continuously improve.  It helps you set up systems in your life that prevent failure or at least enable you to account for it when you are on a learning curve.

        Thanks again, all of you, I learn so much milling through this forum.  

    • Dale Melchin

      The difference between self-blame and owning the situation is that the first comes from a position of weakness and reactivity, owning a situation comes from a position of strength and proactivity.  

      The issue is never blame, the issue is responsibility and accountability.  Blame assumes an attack on the worth of the person as well as the behavior.  Responsibility and accountability assumes the intrinsic worth of the individuals involved and says, yes, I’ve screwed up, but I can do better.

      However, I think Michael pretty much covered everything. :-D

  • chris vonada

    This reminds me to refresh on The Seven Decisions… most importantly, I need to have a decided heart!

    “I will lay my head on my pillow at night happily exhausted, knowing that I have done everything within my power to move the mountains in my path. As I sleep, the same dream that dominates my waking hours will be with me in the dark. Yes, I have a dream. It is a great dream, and I will never apologize for it. Neither will I ever let it go, for if I did, my life would be finished. My hopes, my passions, my vision for the future is my very existence. A person without a dream never had a dream come true.” Andy Andrews

    Yep, I need to have a decided heart today… and every day!

    Thanks Michael.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That is one of my favorite books of all time. I love all things “Andy.”

      • Michael Good

        Same here, Michael. The guy is incredible!

    • Marnie Hughes

      That’s beautiful, thank you for sharing Chris. I haven’t read that book, but will now!

      I like what Michael says – ‘I own my life.’ Every day we choose to put one foot in front of the other to get where we’re going. Sometimes it’s a simple as that.

    • Michael Good

      Chris, I thought exactly the same thing. Just read that Andy Andrews book and it has been a life-changer!

    • Michele Cushatt
  • Patricia Zell

    In this world, there is a definite push and pull of evil that comes against everyone. One of the turning points in my life was when I understood that God is not blaming me–He sees the deceptions that are raging against us and He has the way of escape that He put in place through Christ’s death on the cross. We have the right to ask God for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom…we have the right to ask God to work everything out for our good. On the cross, Christ forever destroyed the ability of evil to keep us seperated from God. Oh that we might fully manifest the power of God’s absolute love…  

    • Graham

      Absolutely Patricia! Ten years ago I laughed at the suggestion that there was a spiritual war that raged around us. To cut a long story short it smashed through my safety zone and forced me into a spiral out of control. Only when I had no hope of an earthly resolution and was told by a cynical Barrister I needed a miracle did I drop my ego and ask God for help. I thought He would never help someone like me, especially as He had warned me before it happened, but God not only gave me the miracle I asked for He gave me many I never even thought of on the way. 

      • Michele Cushatt

         Great story, Graham. Thanks for sharing the hope with the rest of us!

  • Sia Knight

    This was a great post; it was honest and thought-provoking. I bet if all of us took inventory of our lives, it would be easy to see where we have shifted blame instead of accepting responsibility.

    • Cor Chmieleski

      I agree with Sia. Great post. Thank you for your honesty, Michael, including those times when you experienced setbacks and failures.

  • Craig Jarrow


    Love these thoughts… we all “can” make choices everyday. Not all of us do.

    While we can’t control what life brings our way, we can control what we do with it.

    I liked the part where you mentioned that you chose to not run the marathon, because you were intentionally doing other things.

    Sometimes we have to choose where we want to win. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Craig. Its is so easy to blame someone else or circumstances, when we are really choosing. That was certainly true of the marathon for me.

    • STurner2

      This reminds me that we do make choices everyday, only some are by default. Our awareness of the default option is often non-existent or worse, we ignore the fact that it was a choice. We have heard, “I didn’t choose for things to turn out this way,” or “I didn’t choose to be this way.” The question becomes, “Did you choose to do otherwise?”

  • Chris Patton

    Thanks for this post today, Michael.  Very timely for me!

    I put a post out there today that is really a dump of my heart and thoughts about the kind of man I want to be.  I wrote about a missionary named Jim Elliot because he exemplified an incredible, sold-out disciple of Jesus through the choices he made in life (and death).

    When I read about the choices he made, I am inspired to do the same.  I want to make bolder choices and stay the course, regardless of consequence.  In your words, I need to “own” these choices!

    Thanks for the affirmation!  Here is the link to my post… 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Chris. Jim Elliot is a hero of mine.

  • Joey Espinosa

    I need more reminders like this! Too often I make excuses for the situations I’m in. And even when I don’t, I get a “woe is me” attitude. I need to reject passivity and accept responsibility for where I am now, and where I hope to be in the future (for myself and for my family).

    Thanks so much!

    • Michele Cushatt

      It’s so easy to slip into self pity! It takes courage and intentionality to accept responsibility, admit responsibility, and act on what was learned as a result.

  • Dave Anderson

    I have found myself and others treating bad attitudes like they are circumstances out of their control.  Some people believe that because they woke up in a bad mood, it is in the cards for the day to be sullen or angry.  NO!  Own it and change it.

    My dad would say to me as a teenager, “Attitude is a choice…make a different choice.”  Bad attitudes usually come from self-pity.  Pity is a noble emotion.  Self-pity is the most ignoble one.  

    My attitude is not a circumstance out of my control.  I must own it and change it.  That is something in life I have complete control over.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. One of the best antidotes I have found for any negative emption is gratitude. It works great against self-pity, anger, depression, etc. Thanks.

    • STurner2

      You have some very good comments on the subject of attitude. My post for tomorrow is on attitude, “The Rule of 3s”(Now I am committed to “git R done”).

  • Jeremy Statton

    Thanks for being transparent and honest about life. It seems that honesty is one of the first steps to owning our life and then doing something about it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think so too. I was blessed to have a coach who worked with me for a couple of years on this very thing. She wanted me to get good at “processing failure.” Step 1 was to own it.

    • Joy Groblebe

      I totally agree!  Without honesty…it’s hard to move to action.

  • Joe Lalonde

    I had to own up when I was without a job for an extended period of time.  A lot of it came from being unwilling to settle for less than what I desired. I blamed a lot of other people and things because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents and church family. But in reality it was me making the choice of not taking any old job that would contradict with the priorities I had set for life.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great example of “owning it,” Joe. Whenever I meet someone who takes responsibility like this, I know that he or she will succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

  • Steve Hawkins

    Thanks for sharing Mike. Your honesty is refreshing.

    Years ago, I read “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. His philosophy was that by working through problems until they are solved, you grow and learn. Otherwise, you can end up stuck in your life, blaming others for your problems. 

    Taking responsibility for your choices helps you get up, dust yourself off, and get moving again.

  • jaycaruso

    One of my favorite books is by Andy Stanley, called ‘The Principle of The Path.’ 

    The overriding lesson of the book is: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.”

    And much of it has to do with the choices we make. They don’t always line up with the intentions we have. 

    • Cor Chmieleski

      I hadn’t heard that phrase by Stanley before, but I like it.

    • Charlie Lyons

      I love that book. It was very helpful for me last summer during a time of “directional impairment” in my life. :) Great comment here. 

  • Wayne Stiles

    Thanks, Michael, for always reminding us that intentional leadership flows from who we are as people, and it isn’t just a matter of following seven steps. 

  • Shoobey77

    great insights once again. Its painful to own these choices but the pain is intended for growth..thanks

    • Michele Cushatt

      Great reminder. Tension is the only path to growth and maturity.

  • Debbie

    There is so much truth in this post. For me, over and over, God says to choose to trust Him & rest in Him and respond to situations out of that. It isn’t easy but its simple and it leads to the life He intends for us (me) REGARDLESS of the circumstance and situations I face (and oh, my I’ve had some dozzies — facing a three year long heartbreaking one right now). “Things” and people may not be under my control — but they are under His and I can choose to trust Him and His nature/character and live with wisdom & purpose. So many great choices are open to us in life and sometimes its the tough stuff that leads to the great stuff!!!

  • Mark Y

    Great post!  I am lecturing next weekend at a meeting in my profession that is attended by doctors from around the world and I have several slides about “Creating your life plan”- with credit and links to your blog.  Thanks for the inspiration and guidance.  

  • Kokil

    My inability to find myself a job which gives me the money, is inspiring and makes use of my skills

  • Cor Chmieleski

    I work with a bunch of young people. I am surprised how many have not been trained in how to make good choices. I wrote a post “A Sure-Fire Approach To Making a Bad Decision” ( to help them increase the likelihood of making good decisions. There’s no app for that. Well, actually, there is. But, that’s another story!

  • douglasandrews

    Great post Michael!  “Owning” seems to be the newest buzz word in the business world today.  It can certainly be applied to many other areas of life.  I do own my financial situation due to the choices I have made in my past, BUT, I also own the better choices I CAN make in the future, like today.  Make great choices!  Own them either way.

  • S Lee

    Thanks for your email today. I love the questions you asked. I was living for weekends and not making money in my business. With that, any money I did make was split in half with my business partner who is great as a friend but not as a partner. I looked at your questions today and saw how many answers have changed.

     I finally don’t live for weekends because I heavily leaned on God and more importantly trusted he had ALREADY done what was needed. Through many defining moments He gave me clear signs to begin Christian Life Coaching and Genesis Life Coach was born (check it out on FB or the web!) . So I love Mondays (as I work outside on my lanai today)

    Through coaching I am finally fulfilling my dream and not worried how it will work, because God knows the details and took care of it all. How blessed am I to at 52 years old, I get to do, be and grow into who He created me to be. Peace!

  • Jay Cookingham

    Wow…that’s was a AM wake-up call! I feel so stuck at my job and need to break free. It’s good to remember that I own this decision and the choice is mine to make. Thanks brother!

  • coachbyron

    “…you must own your specific situation and take responsibility for the choices that led to it.”  Once again Michael you hit the nail right on the head.  Personal life ownership.  We have the power and privilege of choice (especially in America).  When we change our choices we change our life.  I am going through a challenging time right now.  It’s both an exciting and a scary time.  Choice and owning my choices is the clear name of the game.  You have inspired me (one of tens of thousands) with your candid and very useful straight talk and practical wisdom.  Thanks!  Happy Monday.

  • Melanie Bolke

    I have a coaching client that I’ve been sharing this concept with for years. 

    He is truly a genius, but believes that he is never to blame for things that go wrong in his life. He really believes that it’s always someone else’s fault.

    I pray that the scales will fall from his eyes sooner rather than later so that he can realize all the potential that God has for him.

  • Thad Puckett

    I think when we don’t acknowledge our choices, we cede power to something that should never have it.  And as you say, we then become victims.  Thanks for focusing my Monday Michael!

  • Michael L Ehret

    OK, this makes sense. But  you wrote:

    “But first, you must own your specific situation and take
    responsibility for the choices that led to it. Only then can you begin
    to create a different future.”

    My question is “How?” I was fired, totally caught off guard by it, and am now struggling with making my life make sense and what to do next. How do I take responsibility for a choice that was foisted on me?

    • Deanna

      Michael, I was recently fired (augh!) too. 

      I think we take responsibility by owning how we “react” and what we choose to “do” next.  Do we see it as an opportunity or a dead end?  Even when things are done to us, we don’t have to let those things take over the direction of our lives.  I was let go from a position in a field that I really wanted to be in.  I could let it shake my confidence,  and quit my dreams.  But I know that this one experience doesn’t define my abilities or who I am. I’ve used it as an opportunity to reflect on what I learned about myself in the position and I’m refocusing some, but staying in the game. It’s not easy and sometimes we have to quiet our defeated feelings, but the struggle and fight is worth it! 

  • Donna

    Michael,  thank you for being real with us. 

  • Andy Traub

    1. Thanks for the blog traffic.
    2. You’re a stud.
    3. I’m grateful for your friendship.
    4. Your book is great (I’ve read it already people…buy it the week it comes out for lots of reasons)
    5. Thanks for being a great example of living intentionally.

    • Michael Good

      You deserve the mention, Andy. Keep it up.

    • Joy Groblebe

      Best blog comment….ever.  :)

      • Andy Traub

        Yeah, i thought Michael’s comment was pretty good too.

    • Chip Dizard

      I am listening to your podcast now. So good and encouraging! 

      • Andy Traub

        Thanks Chip. Grateful for you listening and for your kind words. I live off of encouragement and then food, in that order.

  • Omi

    Wow. I enjoyed this post. I like how your friend mentions that you are one of the few people he believes in situations like you mentioned. It makes me wonder whether I have a reputation for owning or denying my own situations. How much do people believe me when I say: “Sorry, I can’t do it, I have other plans.”

    • Andy Traub

      Omi, I love that you noticed that. When I hear most people give excuses I hear excuses. rarely do I hear intentional explanation. We could all improve on that of course but Mike is a great example. If we find ourselves giving more excuses than explanations then we need to look at our decisions and ask why that it.

  • W. Mark Thompson

    Sometimes is good to see how other  people struggle and STILL come out
    on top (from a choice mindset). It reveals how things can be different
    based on our decisions on how we deal with “life things”. These things happen to us all. But to observe how others all respond is enlightening – and helpful. 

  • TNeal

    Your Twitter exchange made your point well. Everything else highlighted the a-ha moment in that exchange. Exceptional stuff. I will make sure this gets some pub time where I hang out (which isn’t the pub; “I’ll meet you at the pub” though sounds more inviting than “Let’s hang out at the beer joint downtown”).

  • Bookworm1973

    I’m still beating myself up over a disastrous end to a ‘career’ job over three years ago. It was a (successful) unfair dismissal, but it didn’t stop me wondering what my ex-colleagues thought, and how I was ever going to get back into that industry again – still not managed it, and still raging against the unfairness of it all.

    The role was a good one, in a company that (positively) challenged me, and although my colleagues in the office were all that you need from co-workers, the senior managers were not of the same breed. It was felt that the office needed to be ‘commanded’, which was where the problems started.

    But….here I am still under this cloud and not sure if I’ll ever have such a good job as that again. With everything the economy is throwing at us right now, I hear the “be grateful you’ve got a job” comment thrown around – which has the effect of putting more pressure on me.

    I didn’t intend for this to be a ‘look-at-me-i’m-a-victim-too’ post, slightly embarrassed that it seems to be that, but it’s difficult to pick yourself up again if you’ve got responsibilities beyond your single self (I’m married, with kids, mortgage etc.)


    • Andy Traub

      You only have two choices. Move on or stay there. Sounds like you’re still there. I hope you can decide today to move on. It starts sometime…why not today? You’re not  just your past, you’re your future too.

  • Dan Stratton

    Another great post, Michael. Thank you. This was a great reminder. I often am too hard on myself for past decisions. Rarely has any decision I have made been long term detrimental (in fact, I can’t think of one), but just an adjustment in the long term trajectory. I wrote last year about pivot points, decisions that alter the course of life. While those decisions were dramatic in the long term, had I made the different decisions would have been bad, just “different”. Life is about choice and learning to be happy with the consequences of those choices. 

  • Kelly Combs

    I definitely believe in owning our own choices. In my case, I need to work on giving myself grace in the bad decisions. We have to live an intentional life with accountability for our actions, but we have to forgive, ourselves as well as others. Great post.

  • Dick

    Michael,  I appreciate these thoughts. With out a doubt, my failures in life have taught me much more than my successes.  There is a tuition that I pay in the school of hard knocks and I work hard to learn the critical lessons.  I am keenly aware that I do not want to go through that lesson again.  I am convinced that the learning starts with me and my owning my mistakes.  Thank you for the thoughts!

  • D

    It’s funny how people can judge a person based purely on assumptions – sometimes assuming that a successful person has had an easy road.  Accepting responsibility for choices, events, etc. is huge!  Then you’re no longer a victim.  I spoke at a place called Cenikor, and the phrase “accept it” was used more than once.  Thanks for sharing!

  • CCAshley01

    Good stuff!! What a profound and simple way to change the things we are not content with. 

  • Dsellati

    I just went through a very emotional breakup. (Just, 3 months ago) I was completely happy in the relationship, and he left, for someone else. But I was so good to him! We were so happy! Blah, blah, blah. I have no control over how he feels, nor can I be upset at him about it. What I CAN do, is accept that it is what it is, and give up on the idea of being with this man. I certainly can’t say that we ought to be together, that I know what’s best, that I know what would make him happy. Only God knows these things. So, I must surrender. Sometimes, only after I have given up on something, thrown my hands up, surrendered, can I feel relief. Surrender is the calm after the storm. Because I cannot control anything except WHAT I DO. You can’t fight the waves, but you can learn how to surf. ;)

  • Schaffer32

    Once again I am struck by the honesty and risk taking of your posts. Your integrity here floors me every time. You make “in our weakness we are strong” believable. Know that this is one blog I read with expectancy, and that’s say’n something (for this skeptic). Here’s what I see and value here, how I see that you are different than others with even a fraction of your readership (bounty): you care about your readers convincingly. I suppose everyone attempting success in this space looks to Seth Godin as the gold standard. The goal being to find one’s unique “voice” as this oracle has so consistently. I think the new ground that you are breaking here, the reason why so many people embrace your unique voice, is that you are delivering on the promise of social media — true fellowship, not mere sermonizing to sell, sell, sell. And that is one of the many reasons why I enjoy your offerings here — you explain exactly how you are selling to us! “Don’t buy the book yet; I want to be on the NYT Bestseller List.” I just love all that for its frankness. You make me want to buy your book just to honor your integrity and earnestness, even though I can’t imagine there will be anything new in the book that is not already here, inasmuch as you already told us that that is how you wrote the book!  But here is when I really understood (in my way of understanding) your commitment to your community. How your messaging is meant to be lived, not merely held in the suspended animation that is most of social media’s utter loneliness. I am not one to comment here or anywhere. I read (a great deal) and move on. But one post awhile ago concerning Donald Miller’s new thing stopped me and I commented (even, if I recall correctly, evoking Viktor Frankl as you did today).  And then I realized why those characters are profiled on your website — they’re your posse for good! They all (at least it felt like all of them) came alongside me (as it were) to console me — within minutes. THAT is your value proposition. You make yourself vulnerable time and again, but it is all expressed in the context of continually forming a community of great strength. Your weakness makes your community powerful. Your offerings empower, not merely convict. It’s usually the other way around, and I dear say I do feel small almost every time Seth makes a pronouncement, God love him. As good and essential as Seth is, his advice and guidance more often than not leaves me within the stifling confines of cyberspace and perhaps with not a little envy and frustration in the bright light of his brilliance. Reading your relentlessly positive  yet sternly reality-based offerings (and those of your posse, if I step out of line with envy/anger) is to breathe fresh mountain air and to want to immediately look away from cyberspace and into the nearest face I can find. Though this was not your intention, you have me thinking I might just now begin to train to finally run that marathon (at 58)!  In my weakness…. You keep me from giving up on my dreams and you remind me time and again that my entire life has been blessed beyond all reckoning. I a never thank you enough for that. Tell us when it’s OK to buy your book. I want to be a part of your continued success. 

  • Susan F

    I’ve been told “We become the sum of our small choices”. Do you agree?

    • Andy Traub

      There are some big choices that add to the sum but yeah, most of them are small. I agree.

  • silly girl

    This goes along with one of my life lesson ,I am not responsible for what others say about me or treat me but I am responsible for how I respond.

  • Chris Campbell

    Mr. Hyatt. WOW. What a great post. This is one of your best.

  • Michele Schwien

    So much of our unhappiness stems from replacing what we want for our future with what we want right now. Thanks for the reminder that I own being a single mom. I want happy, healthy children who make positive contributions to society. The choices I make today will determine what my tomorrow will look like. 

  • Sutton Parks

    Right now I am owning my health and finances.  I haven’t smoked a cigarette for a week!  

    Accountability is one thing but after a recent speaking engagement book  I realized I can visualized and think something and then have it happen.  I had an idea to get into public speaking with my music instead of playing music in bars.  Dan Miller told me the best way to get into speaking is to write a book and he encouraged me.  After almost two years I have a book out and speaking gigs and the process amazes me.  What others things can I do with just an idea and some action behind it? 

    Right now I have an idea for what I want to look and feel like health wise.

    • Jim Woods

      Keep it up Sutton! I’ve never smoked, but I know it is a HUGE challenge for many to stop. You can do it! I’d encourage you to write about it and you can get encouragement from others who have quit. By documenting your challenges  you would also give yourself instant accountability. 

      • Sutton Parks

        Thanks Jim.  I’ve quit hundreds of times, it’s the staying quit that I need to work on.  There is a Will Smith video on youtube that I’ve been watching to keep me motivated.  Will has an incredible amount of optimism and vision.

    • Michael Good

      I’m reading your book now, Sutton, and really enjoying it!

      • Sutton Parks

        Alright!  Thank you Michael.

    • Andy Traub

      Make it two weeks and I’ll buy you a HUGE pack of gum and send it to you brother. You can do it!

      • Sutton Parks

        Thanks Andy.  I’ll take you up on that and will let you know it a week.  Thanks for posting a link to this blog on Facebook, great stuff.

    • Barry Hill

      Make it three weeks and I’ll send you a bigger pack then @andytraub:disqus!!!!

      YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!

  • Jim Woods

    Mike, I actually posted about something very similar today. I need to QUIT playing the blame game. I need to suck it up and take responsibility for my own actions. 

    Playing the role of victim is just a waste of time, and wasting my time leads to wasting my life. 

    • Barry Hill

      Link please?

      • Jim Woods

        Sure here it is Barry. Thanks for asking!

        • Barry Hill

          LOVED this post and I left a comment on your blog! Blessings!

  • John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. In the case of the half marathon, since you are already running on a daily basis and the fact you’ve already run a couple of these events gave it more downside than upside. It would be a real drag seeing you hobble on stage from a knee or foot injury. Here is a question for you… have you considered the potential marathon you may be running over the next few months doing interviews for your new book? If it is anything like your previous books, you may have hundreds of media conversations to do. With airports being your track, you’ll never need another frequent flyer mile in your life. A twenty six mile marathon will seem short in comparison.

    As for me, I’ve found that I can only do a maximum of three large “Impact” goals at once. Just like you, I’ve had to put aside things that are good, in exchange for things that are great. I’m still learning patience. It’s really hard to wait. It’s even harder to “own up” that I may have over-committed. 

  • Michael holmes

    So I stepped out of the elevator on the sixth floor, to a job I dont particularly enjoy, thinking about my young family who depend on me, while balancing the secret ambition of being an internet entrepreneur, and then read this on my phone (via email). And it was these sentences that stopped me in my tracks: 

    “But blaming our circumstances or other people—even when they are partly or almost totally responsible—only makes us victims. It robs us of our freedom and keeps us stuck. There is a better way. Change is possible. It can begin today.”


    It was if time stopped.

    Thank you for this post Mike. It further solidifies the fact that I’m on the right path. And I’ll get there step by step.

    • Barry Hill

       I really loved that line, too! “Whoa”— is right!

  • Chad

    I really appreciate your transparency. Your blog post is the second reference to the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” that I’ve come across in less than 12 hours. Coincidence? I think not. This is the next book I’m going to read.

  • rickalvey61

    A few months ago I came across a blog by a twenty-something young man from India. His stated philosophy towards life was that if anything went well it was wholly because of his doing and if things did not go well it was just meant to be that way and not his fault. When I shared his statement with my four kids (three of them teenagers) they immediately saw the inconsistency in this kind of reasoning.

    I have followed your blog for a while now and always been encouraged by your writing, but this one really spoke to me because of your transparency in sharing some of the setbacks in life that you’ve encountered. Thank you for being so real.

  • Jonathan Thompson

    We reap the consequences of our decisions.

    Most of the time, when the consequences are bad, we chalk it up to the fact that God is punishing us with His big thumb.

    And although God does punish us, He also loves us too much to give us more than we can bare.  With the punishment God often includes a teaching moment to prepare us for what He has for us next in life.

    Often we focus on the punishment aspect rather than trying to see what God wants to teach us.

    Take Moses for example:

    He was possibly next in line to rule over Egypt, but he killed an Egyptian to defend his people the Jews.

    He ran for his life and lost the comfort and wealth of the palace to live in the desert for 40 years.

    What a terrible punishment, but wait; this prepared him for what he is best known for in his life.

    He became the ruler of the Jewish nation, led them out of captivity, helped them when they had to live in the wilderness, and brought them the ten commandments of God.

    He could do all that because he had 40 years of training from a bad decision he made.

    God takes our bad decisions, and if we allow Him, will turn them into something great for His glory.

    Don’t beat yourself up over a bad decision, look up and see what God wants to teach you.

  • Shannon Steffen

    Thank you so much! Yet again, another post that came at just the right time!

    Today I was supposed to have my first book to the editor and, I am going to admit this, the book is only 25% written. Why? Because I put other priorities in front of it. Alas, they were priorities based on fear rather than on quality. I’m owning it. I messed up and now I’m going to work to fix it.

    Yesterday I put a plan in motion to decrease all the things that weren’t adding to my life and my business so that I could focus on what’s truly important to me… getting this book written so it can help others. No, I’m not writing the book to get noticed or to make loads of money. I’m writing it because God put it on my heart to help others because so many people are being swindled by unethical “SEO experts” that take loads of their money and hurt those people in the long run. I’ve been tired of it for so long and then God told me that I need to get the word out and help people understand SEO better so that they can take back control of their own online brands, businesses and even personal authority.

    Now is the time for me to cut through the excuses and do what needs to be done. I will have faith in God that he will provide for me and my family while I write this book. It’s in His hands just as he has placed this book in my hands. Together, nothing is impossible.

    God bless and thank you again! You help so many people in so many ways!

  • Eric S. Mueller

    It’s important to stop and take a look around once in a while. I’m experiencing quite a few problems that I seemingly worked really hard to bring upon myself.  Change takes effort and energy, and has to be done purposefully. That’s probably why it’s hard. It is much easier to wallow in problems.

    I’m taking effort to fix some of the problems I’m living with.

  • Lisa Keck

    Aw gee can’t I blame genetics? I may have my father’s face but I got my mother’s weight problem, right? Oh wait a minute my own words are coming back to haunt me. I seem to recall telling her to stop blaming me for being overweight. She sounded like a broken record, reminding me that she gained 50 pounds when she was pregnant with me and hadn’t been able to lose it. I was in my early 20’s when I told her, she’d had plenty of time to lose it by then so she could stop blaming me.  

    I feel like I have some responsibility in 2 of my 3 situations that could be better. I could have taken steps to better health. I could have put more effort into my writing career, trying harder to push past the anxiety and insecurity. But the 3rd one has me stumped. I have no idea how I ended up with a daughter who doesn’t share my faith anymore. 

    Today is a brand new day so I will eat healthier and take exercise breaks while I’m editing two manuscripts (one at a time, of course) so they’re ready for contests. As for my daughter, I’m letting her Heavenly Father deal with her but I do remind Him that I’m hurting while I wait for her return. 

  • Kelli

    This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. I just went through an uncomfortable period of unemployment but today I chose to quit my new job because I have been miserable since Day 1. As the job search begins again, I will need to remember that I chose to quit and thus chose the consequences. The long-term consequences should be happiness and a better environment, but the short-term might not be so pleasant. Come what may, I own it.

  • Andrew Mackay

    This is powerful, timely stuff. My wife and I spent a late hour last night assessing what we say compared to what we do. It became quickly apparent that there’s a gap between what we claim to value and what we actually value as evidenced by our decisions. We resolved to start trying to own our choices — to realize in each moment that the activity we undertake is a statement of what we value. Thanks for the confirmation!

  • Kat V.

    Love this post – love sharing it with those I love and lead!  Thanks for your transparency and making us THINK!

    • Barry Hill

      I am with you. I love the transparency here. It gives hope to all of us who don’t have our act together, and puts to death to the lie that you have to be perfect in order to make a difference.

  • Sean_p_tingley

    Currently in a financial rut… have been for the last several years.  I’m sick and tired of being broke all the time and undervaluing myself.  I have an MBA and think I’m pretty smart so why am I still driving a cubicle for 50k a year?  Ah… but I am at the turning point.  I decided to start reading this year and have already read some inspiring books, the latest of which was “Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”.  Encouraged me and made me realize that introverts CAN network and actually enjoy the process.  So, I am going to join some networking groups, work on some financial certificates and do other things that will enable me to find opportunities (notice I specifically did not say “job”) to significantly increase my income.

    Mike, I started listening to you on Ancient Faith Radio just before you moved on, then picked up on this blog.  Very much enjoy your blogs and look forward to your podcasts.  Being in the Nashville area I suspect you are probably friends with two of my other favorites… Dan Miller and Dave Ramsey.  I’m going to come to Nashville and have lunch with you guys one day… hey, it could happen!

    • Barry Hill

      I love this focus! Have you read quitter, by John Acuff? Good motivational book and easy to read.

      • Sean_p_tingley

         Thanks, Barry, I will put Quitter on my reading list!  I think I’ve heard Dan Miller mention that book more than once.

        I love the coffee/barista theme of your blog.  I had a part time gig as a barista a few years ago.  It was actually a fun job. 

        And, yes, FOCUS is my new mantra.

        I feel like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”… “things are going to start happening to me now!”

  • Cheri Gregory

    A month ago, I informed my rely team for the Big Sur Marathon that I would not be running, after all. I’d been wrestling with the decision but decided to make it fare enough in advance that they could find a replacement runner (which they did.)

    Another member of my team told me last week, “I wish I’d backed out like you did!” and then later apologized for using the term “backed out,” assuring me that she realized how busy I am writing papers to finish my MA (portfolio presentation on Friday!)

    Being “too busy” was not the issue. How can I be more “busy” than the mother of a toddler who has had multiple medical emergencies, including several surgeries, in the last few months? Or our senior pastor who teaches and serves as campus chaplain?

    As I look at the photos of all the fun my colleagues had yesterday (our school had five relay teams and my fellow English teacher, Jason Mustard, ran the entire marathon in support of a cancer research charity), I have no regrets. I made the best choice available for me when I signed up, and I made the best choice available for me I backed out. 

  • Cathy Pullins

    Hi Michael,  I literally lifted the prayer request, “God, how about putting a little encouragement in my email today”.  And there you were with a message that is ‘spot on’.  I am gathering my resume today.  Your note way encouragement to move forward with gusto.  If you know anyone seeking an ambitious Personal Executive Assistant have them write to  Thank You!

  • ChristinaHolmes

    so insightful and beautifully done!

  • JustinFosterTEE

    Michael, this is certainly message we need to hear more about. I see so many people pointing diners (sometime deservedly). You make a great point about this putting ourselves in a victim role and that is a dangerous place to be. I teach others that while (as you said) they cannot always control what happens to them, they can control three things: (1) what they think, (2) what they focus on, (3) how they react. These are all choices and at time difficult and courageous ones. I’m reminded of a previous post on leadership starting at home. Also, this victim mentality can become learned helplessness (see work by Dr. Martin Seligmen), nowhere we want to be. Thanks again!

  • Anne Trudel

    Thanks, Mike, for this excellent blog entry. I learned some things about you I didn’t know. I went through the child on drugs experience. I blamed myself for a long time. Thankful for counseling that helped us through that crisis.

    I believe I have learned to own my choices. When we felt stuck at the church we attended and disagreed with the direction it was headed, we chose to leave so we wouldn’t remain and become bitter. That is one of the best decisions we’ve made in recent years. Life-giving and positive changes resulted.

    I have once or twice whined about “getting moved” to marketing from editorial. However, in retrospect, I see that it was a good move and it has helped me learn new skills and challenged me. It’s also made me a better writer.

    Now I am working on embracing the freedom of the almost-empty nest (we’ve had one boomerang) and working myself out of the conflict resolver position. It’s time for our young adults to learn to represent themselves. I’m not beating myself up for getting stuck in the middle…I did it with good intentions and did the best I knew how with the tools I was given.

    Life is a growth process. The spiritual journey is a growth process. We are responsible for the choices we make, and Victor Frankl is an inspiring example…thanks for mentioning him and reminding me of the importance of choosing a positive perspective in even the worst conditions.

    Thanks for your blog…it inspires me and makes me want to be a better person.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks for your comment Anne.  It was good to hear you process the message of Michael’s post through your own life experience.  Very helpful to the rest of us who are also processing it through our own experience.

  • itsjessicaann

    I too bailed out of a half marathon I was supposed to run this past weekend. I did not train for the extra miles of distance – and I don’t feel guilty one bit about it. It took some time but I now realize that I’m in control of every decision – we’re all Presidents of our own lives. If I really wanted to run it, I would have trained. I have other more pressing priorities and running long distance is no longer the MUST in my life. And it’s ok to admit that. It’s actually refreshing.

  • Z Ryan

    A tremendous article.  In our society today many people never take ownership of their situations, not taking responsibility for the choices that led to the situation.  It seems to be much easier to blame someone else rather than admit I made a less than optimum choice.  Thanks for the article.

    • Jim Martin

      Z Ryan, you are right, it is so much easier to blame someone else rather than taking ownership of our situations.  I wonder what advantage we think we gain by blaming others?

  • Michael Good

    This reminds me of a book I just read, “The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews. I am now going through and reading the 7 decisions daily like he recommends. 

    The first one is: “The buck stops here!” I am responsible for my success.

    It’s  a tough pill to swallow but, wow, is it empowering. 

    “There is a better way. Change is possible.” So, true!

    • Tim Peters

      Interesting.  You recommend book? 

      • Andy Traub

        Tim, if you’d like to learn more about @AndyAndrews then you need to check out

      • Michael Good

        Tim, I do. For sure! Actually, it was through Andy Traub that I found out more about Andy Andrews which led me to his books. I’m very thankful I did! (@andytraub, @andyandrews)

  • Brandon

    Great stuff!

  • Dkempf

    Your blog post is the philosophy we live by a Southwestern Publishing Group. Spencer Hays tells the story of commenting that I would not choose to wear that prison outfit after passing a group on a chain gang. His associate said, Spencer those men didn’t choose that outfit, the state makes them wear it. Spencers reply was, they chose it when they made the choice to commit the crime.

    If you think about it, we are all where we are in life base on daily small and large choices we make. i.e., when in high school we choose to study or we choose not to study. If we choose not to study and excel where does that leave us when faced with needing to find a job? Only one example but one most can relate to.

    • Jim Martin

      Dkempf, thanks for the good story.  A good example of this.

  • Agatha Nolen

    Another great post! We don’t have to feel guilty about bad choices; we need to learn from them and own them. I had to admit that I chose two husbands instead of God choosing for me, and those were two bad choices. When I was diagnosed with breat cancer, I was overweight. Although I might still have gotten breast cancer, being overweight is a known risk factor. I chose to overeat and not exercise enough. Your post reminds all of us to ponder our decision-making wisely.

  • Nathan A Claycomb

    That was an amazingly transparant and inspring post, Mr. Hyatt.  Thank you once again.

    • Nathan A Claycomb


  • Mary West

    I am overweight, battling cancer, and falling into debt.  Also my first book is in jeopardy because I forgot to register the pictures in it with the Library of Congress and a company stole the pictures and is making money off or it instead of me (its entire  proceeds were going to children’s ministry) I don’t have the means to hire a lawyer to fix it.  I am owning up to things and have started losing weight and paying into a debt cancellation program through my church.   Thanks for posting this blog for me to comment on!

    • Andy Traub

      Dang Mary. THAT is awesome. Way to own it sister. The world is not fair but we can make choices that give us freedom. Sounds like you’re doing that instead of playing the blame game.

    • Tim Peters

      Mary –

      I hope and pray everything turns your way. 

    • Barry Hill

      Thanks for your willingness to share, and I hope and pray that your efforts are rewarded. Keep up the good work!

    • Jim Martin

      Mary, thanks for sharing this and for owning up to some of the things in your life that you mentioned.  Your note motivates me to look at my own life.

  • Danise Jurado

    I am always so encouraged and educated from your blog posts! Thank you for being real and honest… and then using it to teach us!

    • Tim Peters

      Danise – 

      I too enjoyed the vulnerability and openness.  

  • Charlie Lyons

    Michael, you are right on here. Just about this time last year was when I came across your blog and your fantastic, ongoing content. It was a direct result of this that I have shored up so many areas of my life. I’ve gone from living my life “by accident” to living life deliberately. In fact, this phrase “Live Deliberately” has become tagline of my blog that I started last year. I am modelling its development after your example here, (if I may: and I’m using it as my online “home base,” as you say.

    I am indebted to you for your godly, wise insights that have, literally, revolutionized the way I live. Your writing both challenges and ministers to me regularly. God bless!

    • Tim Peters

      Nice tag line Charlie. 

      • Charlie Lyons

        Thanks, Tim. Many things in my life are more deliberate after following Michael’s posts for a year or so now. How are you enjoying your role as a Community Leader?

  • Denise

    Michael, I always enjoy reading your posts but this one has to be one of my favorites. Such clarity, power, and vulnerability. Blame/victimhood is always easily accessible — and utterly useless.  It takes courage to choose the more energy-intensive option of owning our choices and changing our lives. Long ago I was in an accident and lingered in victimhood for too depressingly long. If you have a chance, I hope you choose to watch this 3 minute video of my story and what it takes to really change. Much love, Denise

    • Tim Peters

      Denise –

      Great video.  

  • Cris Ferreira

    One thing is to talk, another is to actually live it. The second part of this post showed us that you faced many trials, and you speak from experience. That give your words so much more power.
    When I was reading this post and I got to the list of examples, I was a little disappointed at myself (I answered yes to more than one of those questions). But when I read the list of trials you faced, I felt encouraged.
    Thank you so much for sharing them with us, Michael. I know it’s not easy, but it means a lot to know that someone’s been through similar hardships and they overcame them, specially someone like you.

    • Jim Martin

      Cris, I appreciated Michael’s list of trials.  His willingness to share these is a reminder to me that many of us have gone through really tough times and the issue is how we choose to respond to these.

  • Louise B

    I am very comfortable with owning my own decisions.  My life is my choice and that’s why I keep working with people and myself to make more effective decisions.  it’s all good.  thanks 

    • Tim Peters

      That is great.  Louise, what kind of work do you do with people? 

  • Dale Melchin

    It truly is how you respond to life.  This alone, owning your decisions is the key from getting to where a person is to where they want to be, even if they have been negatively conditioned, or how buried you’ve been from bad choices, one can transform  themselves by grabbing onto this and living it!  I’m not where I want to, but I know that owning my choices and my reactions to what has happened to me has helped me gain traction.  I do my best to live and breathe this principle, but I know I have a lot of work to do.

    Again, thank you so much Michael for all you do!

    • Tim Peters

      Dale – 
      Totally agree.  Never too late to change.  

  • Heather Carey

    Thank you, Michael, for the reminder!  I have chosen over the last several days to own my tongue, and am amazed at how much happier our home has been.  I didn’t realize I had become so critical in response to people criticizing me.  But I choose how to respond, I choose how busy to be, and I choose whether to lash back.  I’m choosing peace and encouragement from my mouth.  I still need to choose to own my body’s health. :)

    • Tim Peters

      Heather that is great.  Go for it on owning the health of your body.  You will not regret. 

  • kimanzi constable

    Michael, this is exactly what I write about everyday! Since discovering Dan Miller and being challenged to stop making excuses and take action, I’ve made it my mission to help others to stop being complacent. If I had never taken action, I wouldn’t have been blessed to have my second book being picked up by a publisher!

    Own it and then do something about it: TODAY!

    • Barry Hill

      Good word, Kimanzi.

  • Randy Dignan

    Wow!  Thank you!  Great reminder…  Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, etc…  All had mountain tops and valleys…  All had crossroads and decisions for change!  Thank you for sharing the not so proud moments of your life…  They make us remember what we really are and Who He really is!  Then He gets the glory!!  God bless!!

  • Graham

    I have been through a living hell for a few years and just
    emerged at the other side.
    My favourite cliché now is “sometimes the
    greatest gifts are wrapped in the worst nightmares.”
    Looking back I
    actually remember the warnings I was given by that small voice inside, but I
    chose to ignore them and went ahead anyway.
    Although I spent years in fear I
    now have absolutely no regrets, and hold no malice towards anyone for all that
    happened. I was asked the other day who I would acknowledge in my book and
    without hesitation I wrote down all those that tried so hard to destroy me. I
    now know that wealth is what remains after all money and assets have gone and
    true happiness can only be achieved when the final gap in our lives is filled
    and that gap can only be filled by FAITH. I own my situation.

    • Barry Hill

      Wow. Sounds like you have been through quite a journey. I am glad that you have come out on the other side a better person.

  • Brandon Horvath

    Excellent post, yet again! Thanks for putting it out there when some choose not to! 


  • Drcmleejr

    When you look at you, you own the solution. It’s the most powerful position. ;-)

  • RF

    I sent you an email in response to your podcast regarding this same idea. I understand I have chosen to be at my current job and therefore accept what comes with it. My struggle is with my response. When your job becomes much of what you do not desire in regards to leadership, environment, and vision-how and when do you determine what is best for you and your family? How do you to determine whether or not your job is worth salvaging?

  • Franky

    It seem like the beginning of  the year all goes as planned, but half way through things seem to get out of control.  It seems challenging to regain focus that I’m in control.

    • Jim Martin

      Franky, I think a lot of us experience something like what you describe.  I have to periodically regroup during the year.  (Something like a quarterly review)  What has been helpful to you?

  • Dr. Ann

    Michael, Thanks once again for sharing so transparently – the good and the bad.  I appreciate this reminder that I am free to choose and I should choose wisely.  It’s especially true in our modern times where there are endless distractions and choices – even the good ones can feel overwhelming!

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  • Jackie Anderson

    Being in a season of availability and time while taking a forced break from career and teens in school all day, I am being challenged:1-to steward my resources wisely 2- enjoy rest and mundane 3- accept the busy world that is flying by (and in my paradigm missing so much). 
    Training for a 1st and last marathon I am learning so much. Contentment is learned in circumstances of all types.
    Thank you for being transparent. I can imagine how hard it was not to “race”. 
    Thank you, too, for training me.
    Maybe a future podcast for all us women paid and unpaid?
    My current goal, to support my husband, as a man, husband and father. Appears  Gail did that for you.

  • Rebarron32

    I am owning my situation and my first step of changing it begins today at the SCCORE Conference in GA…..

  • Erik Fisher

    For most of us, when we do something wrong to someone else we feel guilt, regret and remorse. It’s nearly impossible to let that go unless you’re able to apologize or somehow make it right. 
    I’ve struggled with this my whole life, trying not to repeat mistakes, intentionally done or not. One thing that has helped has been to step outside of my head, and look at myself and step back from self-condemnation, and instead view myself as if I was a friend who had made a mistake who had come to me for help. What would I do for them or say to them in this instance, showing love, yet not shying away from the truth of the situation. 

  • Dkriss1

    Thanks for your post, Michael. I enjoy your thoughts.I’m amidst the deepest ‘hole’ of my life and understand the power of choice and change. It is with daily prayer and reflection on posts/info like this, along with decided action that I hope to change life around.

    • Jim Martin

      Dkriss1, I wish you the very best in what sounds like a very difficult chapter of your life.

  • Lis

    My husband always shares the importance of taking responsibility for my choices.  Good post!

  • Miranda

    I’ve turned out most successful when I decided to take responsibility for my decisions. It puts me in a position where I’m conscious of the  fact that there will be a RESULT depending on the choices I make, or whether or not I actually make a choice. One way or another, there will be CONSEQUENCES. So why don’t I rather make the smart choice.
    Another thing, smart choices may be SIMPLY made, but are not always simple. They usually require a lot of hard work. But then, it is the reason we enjoy the satisfaction that comes with the positive outcome. After all, we are reaping the fruit of our hard labor.
    * If you don’t make decisions for yourself, someone else will (Francine Rivers), and you might not like the results.

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  • Andy Traub

    Thanks again for the mention Mike. Do you know what happens to people when you mention them on your blog? The “Hyatt Effect”

    • Jim Martin

      This is a great post, Andy.  Following your link allowed me the opportunity to look at your website and blog.  Very nice!

      • Andy Traub

        Thanks Jim. Just completed my “Connect” page yesterday so hopefully folks will be able to stay connected in the way they’re most comfortable with.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m at the SCORRE Conference this week, do this is the first chance I’ve had to check in. I’m glad you got some traffic; I just hope it didn’t derail your day too badly. I didn’t consider that effect!

      • Andy Traub

        You don’t derail my day remember? I’m responsible for that choice! Sound familiar? 

  • Amanda

    What an enjoyable and thought-provoking blog psot.  Thank you for your inspirational words, wisdom and encouragement.

  • Rashaan Mateen

    I have to live with the fact that I made a choice to help my mom by merging my finances with hers at age 19 because she can’t afford to pay all the bills on her own. And it is beginning to cause me to miss out on life as a teenager. 

  • Anne Marie

    My book won’t be complete until I focus on it instead of getting distracted by all the other pretty flowers that grow along the Road.

  • Levi Smith

    Well said! Just wanted to encourage folks to pickup the book you referenced, Man’s Search for Meaning. Read it last year and got a lot out of it.

  • DentalAccountant

    This post is really an encouragement to us. I agree that we cannot always choose whatever happens to us but  we can choose how to respond every circumstances that will happen to us, am I right?

  • dltucker

    Michael thank you for your transparency and for being real. Usually the more you learn or get to know people, the more you are let down. This is not the case with you. I had you pegged as the older brother that did everything right. Good grades, got a job, got a pretty wife and had pretty kids and lived happily ever after and then I read this, that you have had your fair share of storms to deal with.

    My son just got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last November, so that is what we are “owning” these days.

    Thanks for your inspiration.


  • Daren Sirbough

    Great post. I’ve heard it said that maturity doesn’t come from age, but from the acceptance of responsibility. 

  • Dale Melchin

    I seriously, love all of this article, however,  must confess, I’m a little jealous.  Whenever I write about a personal accountability, people are after me with pitch forks.  Maybe its my presentation.  As I’ve said before, thanks for all you do!

  • Kapil Sopory

    Michael, It is a fact that every one has faced various types of problems in life. However, a problem becomes a problem when we consider it as a problem. If we consider us as the ” Universal I” i.e., not the mortal body and realize that “I’m not the doer”, the pain of the problem will reduce though may not vanish completely. He plays the game of life and we have to feel (in true sense) that the so-called problem has come as His gift and an opportunity to teach us. If so, we would accept it boldly and express ” Let Him see what happens”, and then we would receive His guidance and “Light” to show  us the way forward. Afterall, His mortal body also suffered. Despite this, He was in peace always as He was not the body but something beyond that.
    Eventhough I cannot claim to have adopted this conviction cent per cent in my life, I am on the path and believe you me, have gained strength to bear shocks considering strongly ” This too shall pass away.” One thing more, I forget the past as much as possible and live in the present to the best of what He brings to me. That leads to ” Happy Thoughts” !


  • Joe

    What  does  mean own your situation?

    • Michael Hyatt

      It means to accept responsibility for it.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    True Mike! When I see where I am today, I realize that it is because of my decisions I have taken so far. Many successful people in life are good at taking accountability and owing up. Passing the buck is never to going to help us. 

  • Sally Ferguson

    I need to take ownership of a new lifestyle for our family, after the deaths of my Mom and my Gra’ma within a short span of time.  It has paralyzed me for too long!

  • lance cashion

    I make far too many promises to myself and others.  So, many that I cannot deliver on all of them.  Thus, sabotaging success.  I am better than I used to be.  But, I’m a work in progress.  I press on….

  • Crobey78

    I have a friend who is consistently a victim. It is in his DNA, stretching back through his family tree. What has been frustrating lately is his shift in blame. For years he blamed everyone else, but now he has turned his ire on God. His faith has been abandoned because he found something else to blame. 

    I would love to get him to read this, but I feel like it might be pretty transparent. Thanks for your thoughts. 

  • deairby

    Very interesting that you released this post the same day I wrote this one:

    • Michael Hyatt

      Really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kent Julian

    Thanks for sharing so authentically, Michael. It’s one of the reasons I follow you.

  • Kent Julian

    Just another thought…

    I heard Ken Davis (I know he’s a buddy of yours) once say, “What you believe in is evidenced by what you do, not just by what you say.” 

    I try to use that line a lot in my own life!

  • Shallog2004

    You know what? This was God sent. Some girlfriends and I were just speaking on how tired we were of feeling dejected, rejected, etc (mind you, we’re in our 20s) this was encouragement to try to be more proactive of what life hands–and not simply reactive.

  • Chad Stutzman

    Great post and so true.  We always have a choice in how we respond.  Our natural tendency is to respond in unhealthy ways like blaming, getting defensive or procrastinating.  Taking personal responsibility changes you and your situation, but it can be hard to do consistently.

  • Nina Nesdoly

    Thanks so much for the honesty in this post Michael, about the struggles you have gone through in your life. This post was actually exactly what I needed right now, regarding some problems I’ve been having with jobs. Thank you.
    I can’t help but make a suggestion for your routine runs though: Do you do any interval or zone 3 training? Because it is possible to build up enough cardiovascular endurance to run a marathon without actually doing any distance running :)

  • STurner2

    Great examples and clarity on the need to “own” our choices. I wonder if any “Occupiers” have read this and what their comments might be? You draw fantastic responses as well.

    Your question did cause me a pause to ponder and I did identify a area where I need to take ownership. It involves someone else and best left unstated. I am wondering what ownership will look like and how it will play out. Hmm.

  • Cindie

    I have had to own the fact that I have enabled an adult daughter to take advantage of us because I loved her and wanted her to be able to avoid pain in her life (of her own doing) and was trying to protect her children. I do want the best for her and her children but until she can be honest with herself and look at the things she is placing first in her life …her life will never be what God desires for her and her family.
    It has been a long road and addictions are horrible, but I have made the choice to surrender her at the Cross and to pray and to trust that God is in control and He loves her and always keeps His promises.
    Thank you for this post today…

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  • Aaron G Myers

    I found today’s post such an encourgement.  The funny thing is that the most encouraging parts were reading the linked articles about some of the failures(?) you’ve had (being fired, etc).  Our family are in the process of relocating back to the states after four years in Turkey.  Our plan is to continue our work (I’m a language coach who helps Ms with language learning) from afar.  I have tremendous vision for the work, but still struggle to see how my fledgling business will take off in time to pay all the bills once we return.  Our coming to Turkey was a Noah moment (will we obey).  Our return is more of an Abraham moment (go to the land I will show you. . . really?)  I’ve been fretting for weeks with the load of wondering if we will make it.  You post helps me realize in some small way, that whether we make it or not really doesn’t matter.  I’m putting in the work, I’m doing the best I can and I’m acting on the vision I’ve been given.  I can live with that and if it all falls apart and we end up living in a “van down by the river” I think I have faith enough to know that it will be okay.  Anyway, thanks for reminding me of few of these things today and reminding me that failure (in the world’s eyes) is rarely fatal.

  • John

    I did not chose to become mentally ill with bipolar disorder. While I see some merit in this article, I find it simplistic unless you believe people choose mental illness and other problems like that. 

    • Mary Gurney

       John, I always think there are circumstances beyond our control.  It is my reactions to those circumstances that I need to take responsibility for.  Having  helped patients with mental health disorders when I practiced as a pharmacist I know that this was not something they chose to have happen to them.  My patients helped me to see that there were times that they cognitively could not take responsibility for their actions — such as when one of my patients went completely off on me and my staff yelling and cursing.  I was surprised and stunned at first and then quickly realized that his actions and outbursts were a result of his illness.  The result was that my staff and I allowed him to go off on us and continued to care for and about him.  We filled his prescriptions, made sure we talked with him about them and made sure he was okay to leave the pharmacy.  He was one of my best life teachers and I am grateful that I got to be his pharmacist for several years.  

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  • Wanda W. Brewer

    While I was not in control of the abuse done to me as a child, I did make my own decisions as an adult.  I did blame others for my disappointments and undesirable circumstances keeping me running on my hampster wheel going nowhere FAST!  What I was really seeking was acknowledgement for the pain I endured, restitution for my murdered childhood, an explanation and an apology.  When I finally realized that really was not going to heal all the wounds, I decided to make my story my power for the good of others and that began by owning my actions.  Now I hold in my own hands, the responsibility of every decision I make and it is by far much lighter on my shoulders than the weight of pointing my finger at others. 

  • Shannon Milholland

    Mike, I’m a bit behind on my reading and just reading this post today. I just registered yesterday to run my first marathon – the St Jude in December. I want to own my life, my choices and fulfilling a long-held dream of completing a marathon is a part of that. Thanks for the inspiration! (even though you didn’t run!)

  • Dick

    After reading all of the comments to this post, I am reminded of a sermon that was written by Frederick Buechner, titled “Adolescence & the Stewardship of Pain”.  It is published in his book: Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons.  You can read the sermon if you go to  Hopefully it will challenge you as it has challenged me.

  • JamesPrescott77

    This is absolutely spot on. I have so often blamed my problems on someone else, or said that because the bad things in my life that have been out of my control  – losing a mother, parents divorce – were out of my control, that therefore any good things or success should also be given to me.

    What I have learned is that we must take ownership of our lives, take responsibility for our choices – if we do not, our life will happen to us, not the other way round. 

    Great post Michael, thanks for reminding us of this.

  • Kerstin Rachfahl

    In Germany we have a really good bestselling book: Die Entscheidung liegt bei Dir von Reinhard K. Sprenger perhaps translated best: The Choices are yours (found only the book Trust in the english version from him).
    Because in your blog post you forget an important point. Each choice has its price and you have to decide if this price is worth the choice.

  • Mary Gurney

    A topic and posts I needed to be reminded of.  I am trying to own the fact that I recently (1 month ago) wasn’t granted promotion or tenure at the university I teach at (one that has a high focus on teaching) — though I have one more year on my tenure clock to apply for both.   The day I submitted my dossier I prayed about the final product and God’s plans for me.  I told God I was letting go and placing the decision in his hands.  I was supported by my department chair, had good letters of recommendation, and excelled in two of the three areas evaluated on (service and teaching).  I was basically told that I didn’t have a track record as an independent researcher, hadn’t published enough in peer review journals and hadn’t applied for enough competitive grants.  When I went back and reviewed my annual evaluations, this was not an area that was identified as needing improvement.  I have also had 3 department chairs during since I began this position. 

    After receiving the news and feeling devastated  — one of my immediate thoughts was — okay God, I know you have a plan for me — I just don’t know what it is right now.  So for the next few days, I tried very hard not to blame my current and previous chairs, the system, and myself.  I put together a plan and met with my chair.  I am known for getting  emotional under stressful situations and during this meeting I kept my cool and went through the draft of the plan I developed.  I met with several colleagues whose opinions I value and asked for advice.  I have sought out advice of other colleagues within and outside of my institution. 

    Yet, even with doing all of these things — I am feeling like I go between taking responsibility for my past, current and future actions — and wanting to blame others for not providing me with the support and/or information I needed to have over the past few years — that whole one step forward and two steps backward kind of thing. 

    Another issue for me is that part of me doesn’t necessarily value tenure as a form of validation — though that is hard to articulate in a university community where so many do value tenure as a form of validation and it is an expectation if you have a PhD.  The other part of me thinks I should value what it takes to be tenured because I have a PhD.   So, right now, I am plugging along trying to figure out what I truly believe. 

    So reading the post and the responses have reminded me that I need to make hanging out with God and the word a priority and to listen to what God has to say because he does have a plan for me and I need to trust in that.

    • Jason

      Mary wrote:  “Another issue for me is that part of me doesn’t necessarily value tenure as a form of validation — though that is hard to articulate in a university community where so many do value tenure as a form of validation and it is an expectation if you have a PhD.”

      I don’t know your situation, I don’t have many answers, and I’ve never been a teacher or a professor, but I can say one thing:  if I was in the same place; if I had undertaken so much hard work, accomplished so much at that university and still felt that tenure was the only way I would be taken seriously by that establishment, I would want to leave and never come back, because–from my perspective–they don’t seem to value you.  If you weren’t at that university, would the powers-that-be care or remember you at all?

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  • Mike Hansen

    I need to own feelings. I am an introverted thinker and feelings with emotions while very much present, aren’t often dealt with constructively. So I need to own how I deal with feelings and emotions in ways to help me and others. I can choose my reactions to feelings that arise-indeed I can also choose how I feel.

  • Shazzajq

    I am owning my anxiety eating responces where coping with stress is concerned apart from the fact that most of my stress has been caused by the unwise choices of others. I have chosen to appreciate the choices I now have made and others I made previously that  got me out of the messes that personally involved me. This has made it easier to enjoy my life right now apart from what others are doing. If I wait for my peace to only come when certain family members have straightened out their lives  as well then I am missing out on enjoying the hard won peace I can have because I have already made the right decisions that enable me to do so.

  • Barrykahan

    Really enjoyed this. I keep a saying in my wallet. I don’t remember where I found it..” Excuses, no matter how valid, never lead to achievement.” Seems to fit here. Thanks for your great insight on so many of your posts .

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that, Barry. Thanks.

  • Revkevmckee

    Speaking of being unbusy ~ there is a great section in Eugene’s Peterson’s book, The Contemplative Pastor called “the unbusy pastor.”  It is really worth reading as he give two reason for business, vanity, and laziness (quoting C.S. Lewis). Check it out, or ask me and I’ll send you it you via an eversion of the book.  

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  • Brian Ahearn

    Excellent post and personal example. Frankl’s book is one of the most impacting I’ve ever read. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reza Ali

    I get what you’re saying Michael. Last year I ran in almost 20 different events. I’m participating in lesser number of running events this year. There are times when I use the excuse of too much work but the reality is that I find myself less committed to participating in running events. I just have to own it, take responsibility and correct it. I don’t have to hide behind excuses.

    Thanks for the great article…

  • Terri Henry

    I actually found this blog post on Pinterest!
      Your post and personal example made me think how Satan really knows our
    weaknesses and how to get us down when we compare our lives to others.  Often
    we only see the surface of most people’s lives not realizing that many have had
    setbacks just as tough as our own.  Your transparency and humility spoke
    volumes to me.  One of the lessons that I
    have learned from talking to teens and young adults at TheHopeLine is that they
    appreciate this same transparency.  Many feel so worthless about the
    choices they have made that they feel like they can never overcome them. By
    sharing my own setbacks and failures it helps them to understand that all is not
    lost and that they too can overcome their setbacks by taking responsibility
    of their choices. 

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  • Joel Johanson

    I want to own my own hospital. Currently I am working in the government hospital but I feel unsatisfied with my job. How can  I get the money to start my own hospital where I think I will be working happily and with satisfaction?

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  • Jason

    I can’t agree entirely with this article.  Life is not always the sum of our choices.  Yes, some of our life is determined by choices we make, but that’s not always true.  External factors and forces govern our life, too.  

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