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Just 10 Little Words

by on January 08, 2019 8:35 AM

Ten words. These 10 words changed my life for the better. They aren’t profound, long, or highly sophisticated, but they made all the difference to me at a pivotal stage of my life. What are these 10 little words that could have such a life-changing impact?

“If it is to be, it is up to me!”

That’s right, just these 10 little words. These little, but highly impactful words, are easy to remember and just roll off the tongue. The first time I heard this phrase was in April of 1981 at the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society National Convention in Lexington, Ky. World renowned speaker Dr. David Schwartz, author of global bestseller “The Magic of Thinking Big,” delivered the keynote speech, and it was then that I first heard him utter this simplistic yet powerful words.

What do they mean? It’s all about self-confidence. It’s about believing in yourself, about taking charge of your life, and about holding yourself accountable.This is why you look in the mirror and you give yourself an affirmation that you have properly prepared for that big test, big sales pitch or big performance.You have this intense burning desire and deep belief you will get it done. “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

Unfortunately, too often today I come across situations where students, their parents and even office colleagues are looking to blame others for their own lack of performance. Helicopter parents are the absolute worst. Let your kids resolve their own squabbles so they are better prepared for the days when you won’t be there. If I were a student and my parents went around me to try to influence my teacher, my professor or, even worse, my boss, I would be embarrassed and appalled. Yet we know this goes on. We even know that parents intervene during job interviews. One of the most underrated aspects of post-secondary education is learning to live on your own. Roots and wings.  “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

Young people had better wake up, especially when it comes to life skills and life choices. We will probably be living in a world where pensions are a thing of the past and a reliance on saving for retirement will be even more important. But in this status driven world we have to have the new iPhone as soon as it comes out even though it will drop significantly in price in a year or less. Chances are that some major modification to Social Security and Medicare are inevitable. So, the sooner young people develop a delayed sense of gratification and understand the value of making sacrifices, living beneath their means, and being a little more frugal, the better off they will be.

There is a difference between self-confidence and arrogance. There is a difference between swagger and cockiness. Self-confidence and swagger are about believing in oneself and it’s an affirmation that you are prepared mentally, physically and emotionally for the tasks that face you. “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

Do not misinterpret the saying. It is not saying if you want something done to do it by yourself. What it is saying is that you have to do your job and play your role at work at home at school and even with your activities and hobbies.

I think most people want to be around people who have tremendous belief in themselves. Who do you want inside of a $30 million fighter jet? A pilot who is wishy-washy and blames others or one that has an intense burning desire to be the best? I would rather see someone with a little (emphasis on a little) inner-arrogance then someone who waffles under pressure.

That is why I hope our future leaders will be relaxed but energized. Confident but calm. Passionate but poised.

In the Penn State football dictionary, next to Trace McSorley’s photo could be the 10 words. “If it is to be, it is up to me!”

That’s part of the reason I was disappointed he wasn’t given the opportunity to make a big play against Ohio State on fourth down or to go for it on fourth down against Kentucky when Penn State opted to kick a field goal. I believe the kid would have gotten it done. Both times.

So, remember the next time that you are studying for that final exam, talking to a recruiter at a career fair or sitting in the CEO’s office for a big meeting, think of the 10 words and put yourself in the “relaxed but energized” mindset. It’s easier to achieve anything worthwhile when you believe in yourself and your colleagues can feed off your confidence.

Repeat after me:

“If it is to be, it is up to me!”



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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