BBC journalist and presenter, Andrew Marr has been reported as blaming an intense workout for his recent stroke. In almost the same breath, he stated that he had been heavily overworking for a year before this workout and the stroke. While the workout may have triggered the attack, I suspect the 12 months overworking was probably more to blame. Too often, it seems to me people want the quick fix and are ready to blame something else when it goes wrong. Gym membership will not make you fitter, unless you make regular, and initially supervised, use of it. In the same way, crash diets rarely work or at least any weight loss is temporary – don’t go on a diet, change your diet.
Stephen Covey talks at length in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People of the law of the farm. This, simply put says that you will sow what you reap, but have to wait for the harvest –you cannot plant in March and harvest in April – and tend the crop in the meantime. You don’t start training for a marathon the week before the event, there is no such thing as a credible MBA in a week.
Margaret Thatcher once famously said, to massive outrage, that there was no such thing as society. Unfortunately, the message was totally misinterpreted as an attack on society rather than the intended appeal for individuals to recognise that they make up society and need to take personal responsibility.
Or as Monty Python put it in the dead bishop’s sketch:
- Man: “All right, it’s a fair cop, but society’s to blame.”
- Church Policeman: “Right, we’ll be charging them as well.”
- — Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “Church Police”
Don’t look for someone or something to blame for your problems, look to what you can do about them. Don’t look for the quick fix, find a way that fits with your values and is sustainable. That is the real art of being proactive, effective and successful. Anything worth working for will take time and effort, in life, sport or work.
The full context of Thatcher’s remark was as follows:
I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it: ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.
There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.