Working At Cause Or Effect?

I thought I knew what this means but it turns out I didn’t really.  In fact, it’s the opposite way around to what I thought.  

‘Awkward’, as my daughter Phobe would say.

It turns out that being ‘at effect’ means that you're always waiting for someone or something to save you. You're waiting for the silver bullet — that one thing that will make everything okay, the thing that will solve all your problems.

Ouch!  I lived at least the whole first half of my life like that.

Being ‘at cause’ means that you take responsibility for everything that happens to you in life, and business, even if what is happening is as a direct result of an action someone else has taken against you, or a bad circumstance happening to you.

I often talk about taking 100% responsibility for your business and money, saying that nobody cares about your success and wealth creation more than you do.  I also often say that it can be incredibly liberating when you do that, because it means that you are the victim no more, you can take positive action and change things.

But sometimes it’s not so easy.  Perhaps something in your upbringing made you more likely to swing one way or another.  Maybe you are a natural optimist or a natural pessimist, as described in Martin Seligman’s excellent book ‘Learned Optimism’.

So how do you know whether you are living your life ‘at cause’ or ‘at effect’?

The simplest way is to ask yourself in a quiet moment, perhaps in your journal, why you are not yet where you would like to be?

If what you come up with are things you have or have not done, actions you still need to take, you are living ‘at cause’.

If what you come up with are reasons why not, or a list of people who have done things to you or things that are blocking you, you are living ‘at effect’.

Being aware of your language also helps. 

As Martin Seligman says in his book ‘Learned Optimism’...

‘Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, your ability to deal with hard things comes down to…our “explanatory styles”— how we explain what's happening in our world. Specifically, the three Ps, a framework known as Learned Optimism: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization’.

In other words, do you say things like this to yourself?

‘Oh my god, there’s no point in trying to set up another business because all of the social media platforms just hate me and always try and ‘get me’ to stop me being successful.  There’s no point in sharing content as they are limiting my reach so much nowadays’.

No, of course you don’t.

This is actually a real example from my own life.  

Long story.

(Which I did type up to tell you but then decided that was just me being 'at effect' again)

It's a good example though, because when you read that paragraph, you can see the language where I say ‘All of the…’ being pervasive, the word ‘always’ being permanent, then the words ‘get me and stop me’ being personal.  Ending the paragraph with a massively pessimistic made-up conclusion where I have no idea whether it’s true or not.

Reading my statement back, I see I could add two more P’s to watch out for.

Pessimistic and Paranoid.

And you know what they say about paranoia? 

Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get you!

No, stop!

That’s an ironic, pessimistic joke, which doesn’t help me AT ALL in my quest to become more optimistic and live my life ‘at cause’!

Think about your life and business and try and identify where you are being ‘at effect’ and waiting for someone to come and save you, or circumstances to miraculously change.

Then work out how you could be ‘at cause’ instead.  Think 'actions' not 'reasons why not'.

Perhaps my post about solving any problem might help?

Do let me know?

Photo by Delano Ramdas on Unsplash


action orientated, action taker, at cause, at effect, being effective, effecting outcome, learned optimism, make a plan, martin seligman, pessimism, pessimistic, strategic thinking

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