This is a fairly easy concept to get, but a very tough concept to fully understand. I’ve often misunderstood how broadly it applies to life. The life lessons this concept has taught me have been rough.
It seems so simple now, after the fact. But I didn’t see how my actions at the time were leading me right toward quitting that one job all along. I now get why I had such a hard time with certain classes in college. And it’s now obvious to me why those relationships failed.
It boils down to this: I wasn’t putting enough energy into things.
I was being very passive — a subscriber to the victim mentality. I was looking at what was in front of me and expecting some magic to assemble it into what I wanted it to become. And that’s just silly.
I consistently failed to put much energy into life situations to influence their outcome — even though I expected and even demanded to get more out of the exchange than I was contributing.
And this misunderstanding is everywhere.
It explains why marriages disintegrate so quickly. Why students drop out of higher education. Why many small businesses close. Why decent jobs become miserable.
We aren’t putting enough energy into our experiences to justify getting what we want out of them.
That thinking will never work!
Newton put it into words with his Third Law of Motion, which states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
You reap (harvest) what you sow (plant).
You get out what you put in, whether it’s the growth of plants, the restoration of a vehicle, the result of your education, or the success of your marriage. Your results are dependent on your inputs.
Yet we try to disprove it constantly. We want life’s rewards with nothing down. No effort. No long term planning. No money saved. No sweat off our backs.
It’s taken years of practicing proactivity (and many mentors!) to reverse this victim mindset in myself. I’m beginning to understand what it really means to be responsible — response-able, as Stephen R. Covey says — for my actions. To take ownership of my response to any situation.
I’m beginning to lean in, and put significant energy into the world around me.
And you know what? Leaning in allowed me to make serious traction in my college studies and make the best of my otherwise gloomy job. I began to thoroughly enjoy hard work. All because I decided to lean in.
But before this, I was trying to bend the world to meet my imagination; I was denying reality of “you get out what you put in”. I was passive and afraid to lean into situations to better influence the outcome.
And that was just silly of me.
When have you failed to lean into a situation, only to watch it fall apart? What could you have done to make it better?