The Framed Quote
There is a quote that hangs in a frame in my office. It’s done in a beautiful, script calligraphy, surrounded by a dusty-rose matting and framed in black and silver wooden frame. It’s been hanging in my various offices for over 30 years now.
It’s not big; only about 15 by 12 inches. Some people don't notice it when they are in my office. I think the other art pieces draw more of their attention. I don’t even see it every day myself, although it hangs right in my line of site. When I’m on the phone I’m usually facing it, yet I don’t notice it every day.
I have the quote memorized. I don’t really need to see it. The few times I have been asked what my favorite quote is I can rattle it right off from memory. That happened again just a few months ago.
As we embark on a new year I got to thinking about that quote again. I’m going to share it with you and make a few personal observations. Here we go...
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they don’t find them they make them," George Bernard Shaw once said.
I have come to the realization that over time that quote has meant different things to me. The different things are all a result of the circumstances I have been in at the time. The usefulness of that quote in my life keeps changing.
When I was in my 20s, the number of women working in executive positions was just starting to grow. I was fortunate to be one of the few women in a lot of meetings; often the only one. Many women blamed the corporate glass ceiling for their inability to move up the corporate ladder. I didn’t blame my circumstances. I took the attitude that if you’re going to play the “boys game” -- play by their rules and you can stay in the game. Blame your circumstances and you’ll never excel. That helped me advance my career much faster.
When I decided to become an entrepreneur, this quote continued to inspire me. It helped guide me in good times and bad. The circumstances I was involved in might be as varied as developing new products for our company or coping as a business leader in a recession. I just looked for the circumstances I wanted and if I didn’t find them, I made my own way.
It’s come full circle again. When I most recently thought about this quote it became very personal, yet again. I realized that I had spent decades of my life blaming my circumstances for being overweight. I had done so many diets the way the diet industry taught me to do, only to be just temporarily successful and gain the weight back each time -- only to blame my circumstances once again, and mostly blame myself.