This is the fourth in a post series on Dr. Henry Cloud’s excellent book: “9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life.” Read previous posts:

People who are successful, whatever their definition of “success,” are people who do something. They take responsibility for their lives and take action accordingly.  The situation may not be their fault, but they still take action to move forward. That action might be to wait, but even the decision to wait is a conscious decision made with a sense of intention rather than resignation to forces outside their control.

There are several ways to talk about this principle…

I am responsible for my life, including my attitude. Click To Tweet


To be active means to be doing something. The prefix “pro” indicates action toward something. Successful people have a bias to take action to make things better or move them forward, regardless of who is to blame. Did someone else cause a break in a relationship with you? Successful people don’t sit and wait for the other person to take action. Successful people are proactive.

Internal Locus of Control has a very succinct definition of Locus of Control:

The extent to which people believe they have power over events in their lives. A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything.

If someone does something that bugs you, whose responsibility is it that you are bugged? It’s yours. How do I know? Because you are not responsible for what other people do. But you are responsible for what you do with what other people do. Are there people who wouldn’t be bugged by the thing that you let bug you? I rest my case.


There is a way in which dependency is healthy. People in relationships learn to depend on each other. But when you feel like your ability to act is dependent on someone else, you are adopting a dependency that is purely in your mind. What you choose to do may be affected by what the other person does. But you are not stuck.

Successful people take ownership of their lives. Something may not be your fault (a car hit you in the crosswalk, shattering both of your legs). But, you are responsible for your own rehabilitation regardless of whose fault it is. Nobody can learn to walk for you. Your situation may not be your fault but your reaction to your situation is your responsibility.

For the biblically minded, Jesus taught us that it is our responsibility to reconcile with others if we realize we cause the problem (Matthew 5:23) or if they cause the problem (Matthew 18:15). Either way, the person who wants to live well attempts reconciliation regardless of who is at fault.

I cannot blame others for how I choose to respond to what they did. Click To Tweet

Even in situations such as alcoholism where the people involved admit they have no control, they have control over how they deal with their lack of control. You can’t control your drinking, but you can control whether you stop by the bar on the way home. If you can’t control whether you stop by the bar on the way home, you can control whether you call your sponsor before you leave work. Or you can carpool. Of you can give your spouse every means of paying for alcohol that you might normally carry with you. Or… you get the idea. There is never nothing you can do.

Successful people are people who do something.

You will get dealt good breaks. You will get dealt lousy breaks. Successful people don’t sit around bemoaning the bad breaks. Successful people grab the cards they are dealt and figure out how to play them.

If these blog posts resonate with you, I encourage you to read the book or listen to the audiobook… even if you don’t use my affiliate link. I have found this book very helpful. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m finding it helpful again as I review it for these blog posts.

Peace to you,

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