Little Red Riding Hood

I would imagine most of us are familiar with the idea that we are largely products of our environment.  For good or bad, we are influenced by our experiences and mature to either continue in or deviate from what we have learned thus far.

I had a great childhood.  My mother was a superhero.  Far from perfect, she was intelligent, warm and loving – doted on the kids and had clearly defined rules and boundaries.  She was sharp.  I’ve never met a person who could out-think her. She respected my dad to umpteenth degree. And she was strong.  I don’t mean ‘black woman as the origin of mankind’ strong.  I mean, Popeye strong – like, run for your life strong.  I introduced you to my mom because I like to brag on her and because as a woman and as a mother, a lot of who I am comes from who she was.

So now as an adult, I create for my children what I want them to learn of humanity, relationships and womanhood.  They don’t always do as I say, but they never fail to do as I do and it’s my girls who first brought me to the realization that we are truly products of our environments.

We control our environments to a great degree, particularly in this country, during this time in American history. The six generations currently living in America have never seen a war fought on our soil.  For the last 70 years or so, we’ve seen incredible wealth and prosperity. Despite the depressed economy, America is still ripe with opportunity.  So I’m speaking from the perspective of one who clearly sees the potential afforded to each person who reaches these shores and I say with emphatic conviction that for the most part, we control our own environments.

There are 3 important environmental influencers over which we have the ultimate control.  In both our personal and professional lives, it would behoove us to be vigilant over the following:

  1. Our own actions (or inactions).  We are all participants in our lives and the lives of others, whether active or passive. What we do, what we allow and what we don’t do ultimately determine our quality of life and even our destinies.
  2. Tribe. I’ve heard it said that we are all the average of the 5 people with whom we spend the most time. Whom have you included in your tribe? Do they build you and educate you?  Do they force you to grow? If not, shake ‘em and grow a new tribe.  Hint: As you evolve, more often than not, your scenery will change on its own, including the people in your circle.
  3. Attitude. Attitude is so important. I heard Rev. Jesse Jackson say, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” So true.  Attitude sets the parameters of life.  It directs your life through actions, thoughts, relationships and habits.  And if your attitude about yourself sucks, your entire life will follow suit.

At the end of the day – every day – reconcile what has happened and congratulate yourself on your successes. Whatever didn’t work, make a commitment to change it, even if that means changing yourself. People can change. You can change. You just have to want to change.