How Am I Going To Get Through This?

Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think “I’m not going to make it”, but you laugh inside – remembering all the times you’ve felt that way

Charles Bukowski

Wednesday. Hump Day. For many people, it’s the toughest day of the week and they question whether they have the strength to make it through it in one piece. It’s halfway through the working week, you’re tired and the weekend feels like a very long way off in the distance. All that goes through your head is..How am I going to get through this? This is the question that we are also very quick to ask when faced with a challenging meeting, busy day following a poor night’s sleep, an assignment to submit, the breakdown of a relationship or anything else which fills us with genuine dread and despair.

But… we get through it. We all do. We question whether we can do it, and then we go ahead and make it through, barring any major incidents. In fact, more often than not, the dreaded day or event comes to pass, and it is in no way as bad as what we had been imagining in our heads. Day in, day out. Week in, week out. We survive and thrive. That’s because we are incredibly resilient, and have a lot more strength, patience and powers of perseverance than we give ourselves credit for. We dig deep and find the energy, the patience, the solutions, the mental strength or anything else which we need.

This is why we need to cut-out the negative self-talk. If, asking yourself “how am I going to do this” fills you with fear, then you have some work to do. Instead of being an excuse to wallow in self-pity and give up, this question should excite you and get your creative juices flowing. Develop the ability to see this question as a challenge, and then do whatever it takes to meet the challenge. You can do this with some follow-up questions to the initial “How am I going to get through this?”

  • What do I need to get through this? A deadline extension? Coffee? Someone to talk to? Advice…
  • What skills, knowledge or resources do I have at my disposal which can help me get out of this sticky situation?
  • How have i navigated my way through similarly tricky challenging situations in the past?
  • What is the worst that can happen, and what can I do to ensure that it doesn’t happen?

It is very difficult, feels very weird and will take time and practice to master this. The good news is that when you do, life becomes infinitely more exciting. Moments that would have previously driven you to despair will now become an opportunity to learn, challenge yourself and grow. The negativity gets replaced with a hunger to see just what you are truly capable of.

So, next time, you start to feel anxious about a situation which you are facing or currently dealing with, just remind yourself that you will get through it. Remind yourself too, that these situations are often far worse in our own heads than in reality, and think back to a similar event or occurrence which challenged you and filled you with dread, only for you to come through it relatively unscathed.

We waste far too much time and energy every day second-guessing our abilities, and putting ourselves down. Left unchecked, it destroys confidence and convinces people to stop trying to improve themselves and the quality of life for those around them. They just seem to give up and accept their current circumstances, preferring mediocrity to the risk of failure and embarrassment.

However, when you become able to see the opportunity for growth and progress, the challenge becomes exciting, instead of daunting and scary. Instead of seeing the challenge as something which could break you, learn to look it as your time to shine, to push yourself and discover what you are truly capable of.

That’s not to say that this is easy. Because it isn’t. It does take a lot of practice and hard work, but the results make all the effort worthwhile. As with many other things in life, it’s getting started that’s the trickiest part. So, if you’re struggling with getting started on this shift in perception, begin by thinking back to, and reflecting on, other tricky situations which filled you with dread but ultimately worked out better than expected. This serves to remind you of the power which you posses and put you in the right frame of mind to tackle the situation.

If you have any suggestions of your won to add, please feel free to leave a comment

Getting Back Up After A Fall

It’s easy to look at successful people and just assume that they are forever lucky. To outward appearances, they don’t experience setbacks. Instead, they only have good things happen to them. It’s an easy misunderstanding to make. Many of these people have a reputation to uphold or an ego that needs stroking, so they give interviews, write books and create social media posts which only highlight the positive aspects of their lives, their wins and their successes.

The truth is that they too experience misfortune, the same as anybody else. In fact, the rich and famous often experience setbacks, challenges and losses on a larger scale than many of the rest of us. That said, many of them share something pretty special. Something which each and every one of us can learn from. This special something is  possible for each and every person on this planet to adopt. It’s a strategy, and a very successful one at that.

This strategy is all about dealing with failures and setbacks, and is as simple as it is incredibly powerful;

  • Be a student of life, and take everything in your stride. Firstly, when things go wrong don’t panic. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible.
    • Go for a run, walk, gym session, swim, play the piano or do something else to take your mind off of what has happened.
    • Feeling calm, revisit what happened and look for what you can learn from the experience. Learn from your experiences, what works and what doesn’t.
    • Once you have taken all lessons from the experience, let it go. Dwelling on a failure will only stall any future progress. So reflect, learn and move on.
    • Do the same for all of your experiences, good and bad. Look for lessons to be learned and things that can be improved upon at all times. Learn from others, read, watch documentaries, visit museums and never lose your curiosity. This is what it means to be a student of life.
    • With a hunger for lifelong learning, setbacks stop registering as negative experiences in your mind. Instead, you come to view them as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Learn to recapture a positive state of mind rapidly, even after a major setback, roadblock or problem. This is one of the keys to leading a successful, fulfilling life. Your mind is a very powerful tool, which needs to be handled with care. Whatever you focus on will determine the quality of your life.
    • Dwelling on past negative experiences will only lead to fear, insecurity and a mediocre life of risk avoidance.
    • Dealing with setbacks, learning from experiences, applying the new knowledge and getting back to work on your goals is the best way to get back up after a fall. It’s difficult the first few times, as the temptation is to wallow in self-pity, but do this a few times and it soon becomes an automatic reaction to problems which would otherwise derail your progress.

Teach yourself to return to a mental state of positivity and optimism over and over. Train yourself to do that until positivity becomes your default mental state, and notice how much better life becomes. Notice your increased energy, motivation, willingness to take chances and your ability to bounce back after a failure. Positivity and resilience are choices, and after a bit of practice, become easier and easier. Give it a go. Surprise yourself.

The World Breaks Everyone

The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places

Ernest Hemingway

Bad things happen. We all know that. But so do terrible things, unimaginable things and things from which we doubt we will ever recover. As with anything else in life, it’s our response to these heartbreaking, soul sucking and demoralising experiences which  determine the quality of the rest of our lives. In short, these testing times can either make or break us. Whether it does the former or latter, is simply a matter of how we frame the incident, and how we respond to it.

We hear and read this everywhere, but the fact that our response to circumstances determines our quality of life, is not something that I fully appreciated until last year. Of all the things which I had worked on over the years for my personal and professional development, resilience and my response to negative situations was never one of them. As a result, for much of my life I would take 1 step forward and 2 steps back in everything I did. By this, I mean that I would research, plan and act upon something and really build momentum only for it all to fall apart at the first hint of a problem.

Something bad would happen and I would reason that I had done everything I possibly could, so the problem must be down to outside circumstances and bad luck. My confidence would take a beating, and I would give up, telling myself that I was a fraud and that I was not good enough and would never amount to anything. I would then work to repair my confidence, and try the same project again or attempt something else. All would go well until the first problem was encountered. I’d lose hope and confidence, and find myself giving up without a fight. This was a vicious cycle which I was well and truly trapped in. Everything bad which happened was exaggerated and became the worst thing in the world, and I was the victim of a cruel and vindictive world.

Then, last year, my world fell apart. For real, this time. Within a few short weeks, my dog was put to sleep and my fiancee left. Just when I thought that life couldn’t get any worse, I was hospitalised with pneumonia, developed sepsis and had to be put into an induced coma in order to stabilise my condition and save my life. I cheated death 4 times. I made it through, but my physical condition was so bad, that I had to learn to walk and talk again. I had gone from an independent and healthy 35 year old to someone who could barely do anything for himself. I spent my days in a hospital bed twisted like a pretzel. I couldn’t relax as I had to be positioned in a certain way because I had tubes in me, all the way down from my neck to my thigh, and because I couldn’t relax I found myself unable to sleep other than the odd nap here and there.

These were some of the longest days of my life. I couldn’t read because I wasn’t able to pick anything up or hold it. I literally had nothing to do. I couldn’t even chat to the nurses, as I couldn’t talk. All I had to look forward to was visiting time.

So, basically, all I had to do all day was think and reflect. Normally, in a bad situation my mind would go to war with me, and this was the worst situation I had ever faced. But..something strange happened. I reflected on my life to this point and how it had fallen short of what I want for myself. I reflected on why, and realised that the only thing that really held me back was myself. I wasn’t where I wanted to be because I had developed a habit of giving up as soon as times got tough. Most importantly, though, in that bed I never once saw myself as a victim of bad luck.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt grateful. I was alive. I had survived a serious illness, and was in the best place to fully recover. In my head, I had been given a second chance which should not be wasted. I was spared for a reason. My work here on Earth is not done. So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I started to feel excited for the future.

I also discovered who my real friends are, and this was sobering to say the least. Much of my support came from the least likely sources. Overall, I felt blessed and as though my eyes had finally been opened. I realised that I had been a people-pleaser and prioritising others above my own needs, most of whom deserted me when I really needed someone.

I left hospital feeling grateful, confident and positive about the future. I may have lost everything I once held dear, and had my savings replaced with a mountain of debt, but nothing was going to stop me. I had amazing family and (real) friends, a job to eventually return to and a roof over my head. I was luckier than many people in the world today.

The recovery was very slow and tough, but I persevered. Not only that, but the months following my discharge from hospital last November have been some of the best of my life, and continue to get better the harder I work.

I share this today in the hope that it might help someone else who might be stuck. I learned, firsthand, that by switching your focus and perspective, you can change the course of your life. Even though i’d hit rock bottom, I spent my days in the hospital focusing on the positives – everything which I had to be grateful for, the lessons I can learn and apply from what happened, and the potential for my future if I put the work in consistently. This shift in focus led to a more positive outlook. In turn, this new outlook has helped me to keep going whenever I faced a challenge.

Before, I would give up and feel sorry for myself. Now, challenges get my adrenaline levels up, because I see them as opportunities to learn and bounce back stronger. I am more confident, more resilient and happier than ever. Of course, bad things happen, it’s just that I view and respond to them in a very different way now.

Please don’t think that I became an overnight billionaire and married a Hollywood actress with my newfound mindset, confidence and resilience. I am just a normal (I hope), mid-thirties guy who is passionate about learning and development, and what separates high-achievers from those who fall short of their goals. I have discovered the power of reflection, developing self awareness and resilience, and changing the way you view the world. Putting it all into practice has made 2018 a year in which my goals have been tumbling thick and fast as I approach them with a newfound confident and resilient attitude.

I want this for you, and that is why I share my story today. If I can do it, so can everybody else. I didn’t need any books, online courses or any other shortcuts. It took a lot of time and work, but my life changed for the better when i focused my attention on the things in my life which I am grateful for. It opened my eyes to the support and resources which I have available to me. Most importantly, I finally understood that the things which had been holding me back from living the life I wanted were not important at all, such as the opinions of others.

Bad things break us. All of us go through this, but it’s up to you how you frame the experience and how you bounce back from it. Play the victim, or use it as fuel for a bright and happy future? The choice is yours.

 

 

When Bad Can Actually Be Good For You

You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to

Robin Williams

Humans love comfort and familiarity. We do whatever it takes to bring joy and happiness into our lives, and will go out of our way to avoid pain, discomfort or anything we consider to be bad. This approach, however, can actually be holding people back in their lives.

Failure and painful experiences, two of the things which many people fear above all else, can actually be good things. They are also some of the scariest things imaginable, because failure and negative experiences can lead to feelings of loss, unhappiness and uncertainty. In order to avoid these negatives, we become risk-averse. In real terms, this means that we become less willing to take calculated risks in our lives and really challenge ourselves. Instead, we seek the security of the known and the familiar. This is fine if you are happy with the life you create for yourself through this approach. After all, isn’t that what we truly want – to design a life for ourselves and become the kind of person who makes us happy? The problem arises when people are unhappy with what they have become, and the life they now have, through playing it safe.

Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing amount of business and entrepreneurship literature which points to the positive side of failure and bad life experiences. As with everything else, it’s not the event, situation or circumstance which we need to pay attention to. We often have no control over that. For example, a business fails because one of the partners have been stealing money, or we are struck down by a sudden and serious illness. Very little, if anything can be done about that, so it doesn’t help to focus on it and become stressed, upset or give up.

Rather than focus on the issue itself, be mindful of how you are reacting to it. This is at the heart of maintaining perspective and developing resilience, two traits which are shared by many of today’s most successful people.

Mindfulness is not a fancy buzzword, but an essential part of living a happy life. At its core, mindfulness is about self awareness. It’s about having a good idea of who you are, how far you’ve come in life and how far you still have to go. It’s being aware of your own set of values and beliefs, and what is important to you. It’s knowing what you are, and are not, prepared to accept in life, what is non-negotiable and which areas are open for compromise.

Beating yourself up after a failure, or when you find yourself in a painful situation, will get you nowhere. It leads you to curse your luck and seek to lay the blame elsewhere for what went wrong. It can eat away at your confidence and stop your progress in its tracks.

This is where the shift in perspective comes in very handy. Shift your thinking away  from failure, pain and loss being negative. Instead, frame it as a learning experience, as pain is the best teacher of all.

Failure, pain and loss should, ideally, lead to reflection. If it’s something which we attempted but ultimately went wrong, reflect on what went wrong and why. Ask yourself, what, if you were to attempt it again, you would do differently. Look for lessons to be learned and changes you could make in order to bounce back stronger.

Pain and loss are different, but can still be formative experiences. Take losing a loved one, for example. While we come to terms with the loss, we are also forced to face our own mortality and accept that nobody lives forever. At least not in body. When doing this, ask yourself;

  • Are you happy with where you are in life right now? If yes, why? If no, why?
  • Are you living according to your beliefs and values?
  • What can you do to improve the quality of your life?
  • What is stopping you from achieving or experiencing more of what you want in life?

Bad things happen to everyone, even good people. For some, they can be crushing events from which they never fully recover. For others, they can be the catalyst for real, meaningful change. The deciding factor lies in the space between our ears. Our “little grey cells” as Hercule Poirot often called them determine how we view and react to everything which we experience, good and bad.

Our grey cells might be relatively “little” but they are incredibly powerful. They absorb everything we see, hear and experience before determining whether it is good or bad, positive or negative. In plain English..it’s up to each individual how they perceive the world around them. This is why we need to be self-aware, because once we know what we want from life, and what we attach importance to, this helps to provide a reference point to which we can compare everything that life throws at us. In this way, we know if we are truly happy at any given time, or not. It’s easier to remain positive in the face of adversity when we know that this bad situation will have no real impact on our lives and the direction in which it is headed. That way, we save our worries and energy for those things that do involve us.

When The Going Gets Tough…

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps

Confucius

Once you decide that you want something so badly in your life that you turn it from a wish into an actual goal, don’t let anything stop you from reaching that goal. Keep going until you make it happen. This is what we are commonly told, but it can often be easier said than done though.

The reality is that you will encounter obstacles and setbacks as your strive towards your goals, and at some point it might even become clear that the path which you are currently on will not get you to your goal. At this stage, you will be tempted to admit defeat and give up, but you must fight this urge with every ounce of your being. Resist the temptation, too, to curse your luck or feel sorry for yourself. Instead, go back to the drawing board and plan a different path. Ask yourself;

  • What has worked well so far?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where are the gaps in my skills or knowledge? Is there somebody who could help me or a book I should read?
  • What is not working in the current approach?
  • Knowing what I now do, how can I adjust my approach so that I can still achieve my goal?

When you refuse to bend or be broken by obstacles and setbacks, but rather rise to the challenges, your life will change for the better. You become more resilient as your outlook on life becomes more positive. Instead of being frustrated by setbacks and obstacles, you begin to see them as challenges to be overcome. As you overcome more and more challenges, you grow and develop into a more positive and resilient person. You become the kind of person you need to be in order to achieve the goals which you set for yourself.

If you change your goal to make it easier to achieve every time things get tough, you will get used to playing it safe and taking the path of least resistance in life. In doing so, you will never realise your full potential, because it is in facing challenges and overcoming them that we discover who we really are and what we are capable of. Doing the hard things which make you feel uncomfortable is the best way to conquer self-doubt, and it’s self-doubt which causes people to adjust or abandon their goals when times get tough.

Believe that there is always a way to make the impossible possible. What seems beyond your reach today, could still be yours if only you change your approach. Believe that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, and that when times get hard, you just need to work harder and smarter. Believe that there is nothing wrong with your goals, you just need to find a better way to reach them.

Adjusting your approach is not an admission of failure, it’s part of the journey towards success. We try things, keeping what works and changing what doesn’t, and we do this this until we achieve what we have set out to. This is how we learn, develop and grow.

Perseverance Pays…

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time

Thomas Edison

How many social media posts have you read by “gurus” claiming to have the secret to success?! Yep. They’re everywhere. Everyone seems to be super-successful, and keen to share their secrets with you . All you have to do is just buy their book or join their programme. Thing is, the world of social media is no more real than a Disney movie. It’s entertaining, but it’s also make-believe.

To be fair, some of these people are expert storytellers, and their books make for great reading. BUT when you buy the book or the course, you are not looking to be entertained. People part with their hard-earned cash because they want help getting started on the journey towards their goals, or have reached a plateau and need some help to get to the next level.

Reality check time. There is no secret, magic potion, silver bullet, book, online course or any other shortcut to success. Anyone who claims otherwise is either deluded, a liar, a charlatan or a fraud.

Success is achieved when you decide what you really want, identify your strengths which you can take advantage of, and the weaknesses which you need to address before taking determined action. Small steps every day which take you closer to your goals, learning and growing all the time.

If, however, there was to be one key ingredient to success, I would argue that this must be perseverance. Given that absolutely anybody can decide what they want and take action, why aren’t more people massively successful?! The “P” word. Perseverance.

Perseverance is what separates the successful few from everyone else. Those who persevere are the ones who keep going when progress slows down. These are the people who take a positive view on failures and setbacks, treating them as opportunities to learn from what went wrong wrong, adapt their approach and then try again. Whether things are going good or bad, they keep going and are always learning, adapting and growing.

Most importantly, those who persevere and achieve their goals are the ones who don’t look to others for validation or permission from others. They understand that everybody has an opinion on everything, and you don’t have to give your time and attention to all of them. Some will doubt you and others will openly laugh at your dreams. This is perfectly normal, and not to be taken to heart. Believe me, all of your doubters will change their tune once you prove that it can be done. Don’t let their limitations derail your efforts.

In order to persevere and ultimately succeed in your endeavours, the only opinion you need to pay attention to is your own. You need to believe in yourself and your ability. You need to be confident that achieving your goals is a matter of “when” and not “if”. This will keep you going when times get tough. This is what separates the successful from the mediocre – they keep going and never give up. They keep going when nobody else believes in them or shares their vision. They keep going when times get tough. They keep going when they don’t feel like it. They just keep going until they achieve whatever it is that they desire. They persevere.

 

Never Wrestle With Pigs…

Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it

George Bernard Shaw

Pigs and fools. Unfortunately, the world seems to be full of them. I’m not talking about the adorable creatures whose intelligence is said to be greater than that of dogs, or of medieval court jesters. Pigs and fools, in this instance, are bullies, trolls and the spiteful people who we encounter daily, and whose whole purpose in life seems to be to make life uncomfortable for others purely for their own amusement.

With the rise of the internet, these bullies and abusers seem to be breeding and multiplying. This is partly because of the ease with which they can target people through social media outlets, and also the anonymity with which they can operate. Hiding your identity, or setting up an online profile with a false name is far too easy. Of course, this is a known problem, and authorities and the social media outlets themselves are working hard to tackle cyberbullying and trolling. Chances are, however, that you will still encounter it yourself at some point.

It goes without saying, that this behaviour is not restricted to the online world, but this is where it is at its worst. In person, you have the chance to talk to these people and try to find out why they are treating you in this way. However slim, there is always a possibility that you can communicate and reason with your tormentor. It’s not unthinkable that you might be able to open their eyes to how they are affecting your life, and the fact that there is no real reason for this anger and hatred which they are directing towards you. It’s not only in the movies that bully and victim can actually become good friends through communication and understanding.

Online, however, is where this behaviour seems to be at its most spiteful and evil. In this instance, you feel powerless because you have no idea who is targeting you and why. The temptation is to either try and reason with them, defending yourself and your actions, or to respond to their abuse with some of your own. Please resist this temptation, because you will only end up feeding their ego and prolonging the abuse. These people thrive on peoples’ reactions, so do what they least expect and starve them of yours. It is the hardest thing to do, doing nothing, but sadly the only way to deal with a troll. Starve them of your attention and reactions, and they will get bored and move on. It may feel as though you are letting them win, but please understand that this is not the case. In the public arena (online), any reaction will not remain between between yourself and the bully, but will also be seen by family and friends as well as any clients or fans which you may have. By rising to the bait of the troll, you are risking your reputation just for the sake of saying that you get the better of an anonymous abuser. Ask yourself, is it really worth it? Any victory will be pyrrhic at best, won at too great a cost to be of any value to you. If you are to respond at all, respond with kindness. My favourite is “I’m sorry that you feel this way, but more sorry that you have so much pain inside you that you have to abuse people anonymously in order to feel any happiness. I will pray for you that your source of pain may leave you and that you might once again experience the joy and beauty of life”.  Works every time. Even if you don’t get an apology, you will be left alone. It’s a win-win situation which will see your reputation and relationships unharmed and unaffected.

While I strongly believe that we should be kind and respectful to each other at all times, whether in person or online, not everyone feels the same way. Some people will always choose to bully others anonymously in order to feel better about themselves, because this is far easier than dealing with the source of their unhappiness or pain. They would rather make others feel pain and anguish like they do, rather than do something to remove whatever it is that troubles them.

This is why we need to develop a thick skin if we are to navigate our way through life effectively. As much as it might hurt to be on the receiving end of someone else’s bile and nastiness, we need to be able to shrug it off. Understand that their attack is a reflection on them, and not you. Don’t start to question yourself or let this hurt your confidence. Instead, sympathise with your tormentor, because they are in pain but are either unable or unwilling to do anything about it. In this instance the saying “kill them with kindness” couldn’t be more appropriate. Especially if this is being played out over social media, in the public eye. Don’t be dragged into a war of words. If you must respond, do so with kindness and respect, because your response is a reflection of who you are.

Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference

Mark Twain

Man Vs Machine

Usually, with a title like the above, an article will describe in detail just how far technology has advanced in a relatively short time. There are also the inevitable questions about what these advances could mean for our jobs and what the future could look like.

Today, however, I want to look at a rather different aspect of the relationship between man and machine. That aspect, is all about what machines can teach us.

Humans are creators of their own destiny. Our lives are fluid, spent continually experiencing things, learning and growing. We decide who or what we want to be become, and if we put the work in, we have a good chance of making this happen. We have countless opportunities open to us, as well as freedom of choice. Machines are very different, though, but they have an awful lot to teach us.

This key difference is in the way machines are created. Unlike humans, machines are created for a specific purpose. Machines are made to fulfil a particular role, or solve a problem. Trains, cars, planes and buses are made in order to effectively transport people from one place to another. Smartphones are made to enable effective communication and instant access to information. Kettles are made to boil the water with which we make the coffee which powers us through the day. I could go on, but you get the idea. There is a very specific job which these machines and equipment perform. A kettle can’t decide to become a bicycle and transform itself. The purpose for which these machines and gadget are made is often very specific.

As with machines, purpose is what we need too. Purpose gives your life meaning and direction. It provides all of the motivation and drive which you will ever need. This is the big lesson which machines can teach us – find your purpose, and then go after it. Of course, we have the power to achieve and become whatever we want, but without purpose your life will be aimless. After all, if you don’t know what your purpose in life is, and what you were put here to achieve, you will set goals which will leave you unfulfilled and drifting through life. There is power in purpose, and you need to reflect on, and find, yours before even setting your goals. Define your purpose first, and then set goals and take the actions that will help you to live according to it.

Machines suffer breakdowns and malfunctions, but they can be repaired and put back to work. Machines are resilient, suffering setbacks but getting fixed and put straight back to work.

In much the same way, we experience setbacks, problems and roadblocks on our journeys. As with machines, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going. While machines can prompt us to find our purpose, they can also teach us the value of resilience and perseverance.

So, perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more machine-like. After all, when your life has purpose it takes on a new meaning, and when you’re resilient and persistent you will achieve great things because you’re still going strong long after everybody else has given up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Knocking On Doors…

..long enough and eventually someone will open up to let you in. This applies to everything in life. You will often fall short in your first attempt at anything, and that’s ok. It’s all part of the learning and growth processes. Don’t let failure or rejection stop you from chasing after whatever it is that you really want, though. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

Job hunting is a prime example, whether you are seeking your first role, a better role or a totally new career. You find the ideal role advertised, and it is a perfect match with your experience and skillset. You apply and if you’re very lucky, you get shortlisted for interview. More often than not, however, you get a generic rejection email. Or maybe no response at all. You find another role for which you believe you are a perfect fit. Same thing happens again.

This can be a kick in the teeth for anyone. Left unchecked, it erodes your confidence and you find yourself reluctant to apply for more roles. Those which you do apply for, you only put minimal thought and effort into, because you already anticipate rejection. This is a vicious cycle which only serves to keep you from finding the right job.

This cycle can be broken, though, through persistence and a bit of good old review and reflection. If your efforts have fallen flat so far, change your approach. Think about it – when you hit turbulence while pursuing your goals, what do you do? You reflect on your approach so far and what you’ve learned, you seek advice and feedback and get back to work. The same applies to your job hunt.

Applying for jobs is a numbers game. Along with yourself, there could be tens or even hundreds of others all applying for the same role. The recruitment software that companies use to sift through CVs and application forms will cut that number down, and a panel will review the remainders and shortlist the lucky ones. In my own experience, the response rate to job applications is between 10 and 16%. This, however can differ for you, depending on your industry, qualifications and experience.

What does all of this mean? Well, when you hit a brick wall in your job hunt;

  • Take some time to review your personal statement, cv and cover letter. What messages are you sending? How well are you selling yourself to a prospective employer?
  • Seek help. There is plenty of good advice available online about how best to apply for jobs according to each industry, but don’t just rely on the internet. Make friends with recruitment consultants. Register with the main recruitment agencies according to your industry, and get feedback on your CV and cover letter. These are the people who will be approaching companies on your behalf, and their feedback and advice is priceless. Alternatively, ask friends, family or your professional network to help you.
  • Review your approach. Apply directly to companies which interest you. Apply via job boards such as Totaljobs, CV Library, or Indeed among others. Sign up with recruitment agencies. Check trade or industry-specific journals. Go to networking events. Speak to your personal and professional networks. There is no one right method to search for your next job so use as many as you can. Don’t just sit in front of a computer and wait for the right job to come to you. Get out there and hustle for it.
  • Keep applying. Don’t just apply for one or two jobs and then sit back and wait for a reply. Keep searching and keep applying. The more the better, because the more jobs you apply for, the better able you will be to sell yourself to prospective employers. Furthermore, when you have applications pending and are finding more jobs to apply for on a regular basis, you won’t be downhearted when you get rejected. And if you do have a high success rate, with lots of interviews? Then, you will gain a wealth of interview experience and will be in the envious position of choosing your next move.

So, if your job hunt is taking too long and you’re becoming frustrated, just keep going. Review what you have been doing so far and learn from it. What is and isn’t working for you? Why? What can you do about it? Who can help you? Put the work in to improve your personal statement, cv and cover letter and then get back to work.

The more doors you knock on, the more people you talk to and the more jobs you apply for, the more chance you will have of landing your dream role. Want more? Then do more!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Will You Do With Your Pain?

In a recent post, I made the claim that pain is a necessary evil in our lives. I stand by this. If we reflect on it and learn from it, pain can be a springboard to success. As with most other things, though, it’s up to the individual what they will make of it. For pain to be a force for good, it requires reflection and a lot of hard work. The easier option is to find someone or something to blame this pain and failure on, and give up.

Pain can come in many different forms. The most common tend to be the emotional trauma of losing a  loved one, the break-up of a relationship, falling short in pursuit of your goals or physical pain. Pain is very rarely something which we seek (unless you like tattoos) and usually just happens to us. More often than not, we are unwilling participants when pain strikes. For example,if you give your all in an interview and don’t get the job, the resulting pain is a consequence of falling short in one of your goals and not an act of self-sabotage. We can’t control the actions of others or the outcomes of all situations, but we can control how we react to them.

One thing that tends to stand out when you study the lives of great men and women, is that at some point they faced adversity, hardship and pain. What separates them from everybody else, however, is how they bounced back from these negative situations. Media mogul Simon Cowell lost everything at age 35. J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was a struggling single mother. Yet both have overcome adversity to become hugely successful in their respective arenas. Why? Because they believed in themselves and did not give up. They learned from failure and rejection, and it molded them into the people they are today.

Successful people welcome pain as a force for good, because it forces them to adapt, grow and redouble their efforts. They do not seek to shift the blame, but simply get to work. It’s not easy, but the person you can become and the things which you could achieve if you bounce back strongly make it all worthwhile.

What will you do with your pain? Will you let it break you, or will you let it redefine you?

 

IF (Rudyard Kipling)

Today, as we hit the midpoint in the week, I have yet another of my favourite poems to share. My hope is that it will encourage you to keep working hard at your goals and personal development, and finish the week strongly.
In the anticipation of motivating and inspiring you, I have chosen If by Rudyard Kipling. Widely quoted, it was written in 1909 and the tone is very upbeat and positive. Despite using words such as man and son, this is a poem for everybody. To me, the poem is a reminder of the amount of potential we all have within us to succeed in life.
Kipling advises the reader that they will face adversity in life, but then proceeds to offer ways in which these challenges can be overcome. Furthermore, he tells the reader that it is not only possible to overcome adversity but that they could go further, thrive and achieve success. Again, Kipling offers his advice as to how this can be done, and implies that the choice is theirs as to whether they make it happen or not.
What I love most about this poem, though, is the use of “if”. In reading these 2 innocent letters, we become aware that the life which they lead is our choice. It’s up to each of us if we succeed in life or not. The potential is within us, but the ultimate outcome depends on what we do with that potential.
If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Don’t give up

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all”

Dale Carnegie

Persistence. Perseverance. Resilience. Mental strength. Grit. Whatever you choose to call it, you will need plenty of it in order to achieve great things.

No matter what your idea of success looks like to you, the truth is that it won’t come to you overnight. It will take time and a lot of hard work. There will be ups and downs, both of which you should regard as opportunities to learn and develop. This is the famous “journey” which we hear so much about. For me, this is the best part of personal development and striving towards your goals.

As you set off in pursuit of your goals, you will gain knowledge, skills and there will be countless experiences from which to learn and grow. At the end of the journey, you may very well have achieved your goals but the person you have become in the process is much more important. The thing about this journey, however, is that if you keep giving up when times get tough, there won’t be one.

So, my message to you is not to give up when things are no longer going according to plan. After all, if you quit once you will be more likely to do it again the next time you face a challenge. Learn from the experiences, both good and bad, and keep moving forward. Enjoy the journey, learn from it and grow. By refusing to give up, and persevering, you will appreciate the good times even more when they come. And they will. Plenty of them. You just have to be patient and keep trying.

Profiting from your passion

Turn what you love into a successful business, and quit your 9-5 job!! This is the new dream which we are being sold. It’s everywhere we look from magazine articles to social media. Is it really possible, or just too good to be true? I am not about to try and find fault with this proposition, but rather urge caution. So yes, I do think it’s possible, but you need to be smart about it.

We read and hear of plenty of success stories in which people have turned a hobby or passion into a very successful and profitable business. They subsequently quit their jobs and are now wealthy entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who gave up everything to pursue their dream only to be brought back to Earth with a vicious bump. Countless people are staking everything on their passion project and losing badly. This begs the question, as to why there are such extremes.

Having helped a number of people launch small business over the years, I would like to share a few pointers on what I have learned. I’ve said it before, the world needs more beauty and positivity, so we should create art and music, or launch businesses which will bring value to people and brighten their lives. However, too many people are rushing in to their new ventures blindly and leaving too much to chance, and it is this which. I would urge against

Your passion must be mixed with practicality. You must also be realistic about your expectations. Yes, you dream that you will take what you love and turn it into a very successful business. You can envision it. You can reach out and touch it. You can taste it and smell it BUT in order for it to go from dream to reality, there will be a lot of hard work involved. Your passion needs to be mixed with a strong work ethic, a well thought-out plan, a strategy of how you it will unfold, resilience and an incredible amount of hard work.

If you are serious about profiting from your passion and turning it into a viable business, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  • Research and Plan. You need a well-researched plan. Look at the market and who you might be competing with. Look at consumer trends and research the forecasts for the future within your chosen market or industry.  Use this information to plan wisely for the future.
  • Be financially savvy. Save enough money, or secure enough funding before you take your first step. It is a hard fact that many business run at a loss in their first year. This is because it takes time to establish yourself and build a customer base. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I would strongly recommend that you plan for this outcome. Plan for the best and work to make it happen, but have enough money in the bank to support yourself if it takes longer than expected for success to come. The last thing you want is to have to abandon your business and take a full-time job to pay the mortgage and bills. Worse still, you might keep your business only to be maintained by funding from an investor who pushes you to compromise your values. Give yourself a financial safety net, and remove one of the big pressures when starting a business.
  • Determine your strategy. You have a plan, a financial safety net and the drive to succeed. Next step? Work out how you will go about launching your business. Who is your audience? How will you grab their attention? What is your story? What value will you offer them? What is your marketing plan? How will you promote your business?
  • Hard work. You are now clear on what you want to do and how you will go about it. Now, just put the work in. Give it your full focus and attention and put in the relentless work. Take advantage of any networking opportunities and use social media to raise awareness of your brand. As you work, though, you must also reflect on your journey. Learn from the positives and negatives and use this knowledge to adapt and grow. This is a fluid process, and as you work towards making your business a success you need to keep learning and adapting. You need to have a plan and execute on it, but you also need to be able to respond quickly to any challenges or expand on what is working well.
  • Perseverance and resilience. There will be bumps in the road, challenges and rejections. This is unavoidable. The key is to keep going. When disaster strikes, reflect on it and see what you can learn from the experience. Learn from it and then get yourself back on track, stronger and more determined than before.

Having witnessed the struggles of people as they launched their new ventures, I would ask you to please reflect on the above so that you can avoid the same challenges. Research thoroughly, plan well, develop an effective strategy and go for it. Give it your full focus and attention, but don’t forget to take advantage of any learning opportunities on your journey and use them to adapt and grow. If the entrepreneurial route is the one for you, I wish you the very best and pray for your success.

Talent vs Hard Work.

Which one wins? This is the age old question. Talent is a wonderful thing, and we all have it. Talent is what makes us unique, because we have an ability to do something in a way that precious few others can. The problem is that talent alone is not enough to bring achievement and success.

Identifying your talent is the easy bit; you just reflect on what you think you are good at, and also seek feedback form family and friends on where they think your strengths lie. Once you know where your talent lies, you then have to do something about it. In this respect, talent is very much like knowledge because they are both good to have, but useless unless you act upon them. How many young, talented players have been drafted into NBA, NFL or MLB teams but failed to live up to their potential? How many talented people graduate from universities only to struggle to make an impact in the business or creative world? We focus on those who do capitalise on the opportunities which they are given and become successful, but should also be learning from the talented individuals who fail to live up to their potential.

There has been plenty of research carried out in this area, and one of the most interesting findings is that talent requires focused practice. 10,000 hours of it to be precise. In studies of successful sportsmen and women, and musicians past and present, it was found that they each averaged around 10,000 hours of focused practice on their talent before they became successful. In other words, talent needs hard work and patience to become a success. Lots of it.

Which brings me to my thoughts on this question of talent vs hard work. I strongly believe that there is no substitute for hard work. A good work ethic will open doors to wonderful opportunities, whereas a poor work ethic will leave you floundering. In order to become successful in your chosen arena, you must be prepared to outwork your competition. This means being smarter in the way you work and being constantly on the lookout for ways to develop and grow. This needs to be coupled with patience and persistence, as there is no shortcut to achievement. Too many people focus on the overnight success, which is misleading and a myth. It focuses on the end result, which may appear to have come out of nowhere, but was in reality the culmination of much blood, sweat and countless months of toiling away in anonymity. Talent can help, but I believe it comes second to passion and a strong work ethic.

Talent alone will not get you very far. Greatness comes from hard work, patience and having the resilience and perseverance to deal with adversity. In the battle of hard work vs talent, hard work wins every time.

The unconquerable spirit

We all face challenges and go through difficult times. It’s a hard fact of life, but also a formative opportunity.  The way in which we respond to adversity can forge our character and make us stronger.

The truth is that each of us, alone, is responsible for our own life and the direction it takes. The power really is in our hands, and the sooner we realise this, the better. I’ll say it again; you are in control of  your life. When you realise this, wonderful things happen. Chief among these positive changes is the shedding of the victim mentality. You no longer feel helpless and powerless in tough times, and that things just happen to you. Simply put, you gain a new perspective. You become stronger mentally, more resilient and more confident. You then begin to see challenges as a small bump in the road which you will overcome.

When I am going through tough times, I revisit one of my favourite poems, Invictus by William Earnest Henley, which I would like to share with you below. Invictus itself is a Latin term and means to be unconquerable or unbeatable. It’s about an indomitable spirit and a refusal to accept defeat. It is also strength and perspective in the face of adversity, which makes it perfect for times when you find yourself lacking courage or strength after a setback. Take ownership of, and responsibility, for your decisions and actions…..then watch the magic happen as your life changes for the better. Things do not simply happen to you. Understand that you make things happen. You have the power. Use it wisely.

Invictus 

Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul.   
   
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.   
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
   
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years   
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
  How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul

	

Don’t hide your talent from the world

All of us have our own special skills or talents, unique to ourselves. The problem is that the world doesn’t get to experience much of it, because we are often reluctant to share our work for fear of rejection or ridicule. Today, I want to ask one thing of you;  please, just put your work out there. The world will be a richer place for it.

Whether your burning passion is to write, draw, dance or whatever else it may be, that is not important in the grand scheme of things. What matters, is that you share your passion with the world. In the current climate of fake news, and the fear and scaremongering peddled by the media, we need more beauty in the world. We need more people to have the courage to introduce the world to their talent.

This is not easy. At all. In publishing your work, you open a window to your soul. You expose your true self to the world, and this is scary. Nobody likes rejection. and in putting our work out in the public domain, that is exactly what we open ourselves up to. Moreover, as we are exposing our true selves through our work, it can feel like a personal attack if our work is not initially well received. This is actually a good thing, though, because, as we learn to overcome rejection we become resilient. When we become resilient, we develop the ability to better recover from setbacks but we also become more confident in ourselves and our abilities.

Putting your work out there can help you to connect with people who share your passion, and get feedback. It can inspire others to follow their passion too. Or it might just bring a little happiness to someone who was having a bad day before they came across your work. Yes, the response might not be overwhelming once your work is in the public domain. Just be patient. Some people may even be unkind in their feedback, but you have a choice, and can choose to focus on those whose feedback is positive and constructive instead. Who knows, your work might be viewed by someone with a wealth of influence and experience, and in turn could open new doors for you. Unless you try, though, you will never know for certain.

You may even hope to turn your passion into a new career or business. Again, i’d plead with you to put your work out there. Let people see and understand who you are and what you are passionate about. Give them a sample of what you can create and keep them hungry for more. Then, slowly expose them to more of your work, and if all goes well, you may find yourself able to scale it up and get paid to do what you love. Even if, after doing your homework, you feel that the market/ public is not ready for your work, put it out there anyway. Opinions change. Markets move. People embrace new ideas. You might find your work gaining popularity among the general public, or it might be welcomed by a niche market. Either way, you have to put your work out there and see where it leads. Don’t wait for others to dictate when you should share your passion. If nobody else is doing what you do, then put yourself out there and be the first. As business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

We have previously looked at planning and preparing for success. We have also looked at the benefits of taking action. I strongly believe that you need both in order to succeed, in healthy balance. Plan and prepare, but be careful of overthinking or waiting too long. Sometimes it pays to be bold.

Discipline

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first”

Harry S Truman

When exploring the multitude of factors which have the power to influence or contribute to our happiness and success, there is one which reigns supreme. Discipline. Mastery over the self, and a certain level of control over our emotions and impulses, can bring serious benefits to all areas of our lives from our health and fitness to our relationships with others, our professional lives and everything in-between.

There have been a number of studies over the years which have explored the power and benefits of discipline in depth, and if there is one common theme, it is that those who practice self-discipline are often happier as a result. Better yet is the fact that discipline is a learned behaviour. It is not something that you are born with, but rather it’s within reach for all of us. So, if you want to become more disciplined, it is entirely possible as long as you put the effort and hard work in. And hard work it most certainly is. In order to become disciplined, you must master the self. This means becoming more aware of who you are, what motivates you, your hopes and fears and your vision for the future. Furthermore, you become more acutely aware of your emotions and what triggers them, leading you to becoming more effective at controlling them as well as your impulses. This culminates in a person developing a sense of balance and becoming more able to make better informed and more rational decisions, which are not governed by impulse and emotion. Your decision-making process becomes proactive and guides you towards your goals as you spend less time and energy simply reacting to the world around you.

Becoming more disciplined requires constant practice and reflection, but the results are more than worth the hard work and effort required. Alongside the increased self-awareness and impulse control, as you work on becoming more disciplined, you will find bad habits being broken and replaced with healthier, more productive ones.

When it comes to the “how” of becoming more disciplined, there is no singular, winning formula. This stands to reason, as we are all unique and on our own individual journeys towards our vision of success. There are, however, a few proven and popular methods, and i’ll end with my top 4;

  • Expressing gratitude. We live in an age of consumerism and are relentlessly bombarded with messages about things that we need to buy in order to be happy. The result is that we spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy focusing on what we lack, and how important it is for our future happiness to have it. Essentially, we are allowing our impulses and actions to be manipulated by clever marketers and salespeople. If you want to become more disciplined, you need to take control here. This starts with a shift towards appreciation and gratitude. Focus, instead, should be switched to what you already have and are grateful for.
  • Eating healthier foods, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Fighting temptation and cravings in order to lead a healthier lifestyle will build a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. As the saying goes, “Mens sana in corpore sano” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
  • Organisation. This is one area which you can practice at work, as well as at home, in order to become more disciplined. In becoming more organised, you become better able to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively, as well as your emotions and energy levels.
  • Resilience. Discipline is also about willpower and mental strength, and the one area where this guaranteed to be regularly tested is in our response to setbacks. As you develop the ability persevere through hard times, you will find yourself becoming more disciplined. This, in turn, will help you to develop the strength to bounce back from challenges and get yourself back on the path towards your goals.

 

 

 

 

What is your driving force?!

You may have heard of it referred to as your “why” and if you want to lead a successful and fulfilled life it is important that you know exactly what it is. Everybody has goals and dreams but it is your “why” or reason for being that has the power to set high-achievers apart from the crowd.

Your why is your purpose. It’s your reason for being. It’s a cause that you believe in deeply, to your core. Furthermore it’s a source of inspiration and motivation which will help you to rebound strongly from setbacks and problems and keep you going when times get tough. When you know why you are doing what you do, and find yourself on your chosen path, there is less likelihood of becoming disheartened and quitting when faced with adversity. On the other hand, it also keeps you grounded, humble and focused when you do start to make real progress.

There is a catch, though. I can’t tell you what your why is. Nobody can. For every individual it will, of course, differ. Only you can figure that out for yourself through honest reflection. There are, however, some questions which anybody can benefit from asking themselves;

  • What does success look like to you? Before you embark on your journey, you must know what it is the you are aiming for. If you don’t know where you are headed or what you are aiming for, you can’t possibly know when you are making progress. What does the end result look like? What do you want to achieve through your journey? Are you driven to bring about social change? Are you looking to start a business? Are you looking to strengthen your personal relationships?
  • What issues are you passionate about? What motivates or inspires you? What keeps you up at night, occupying your thoughts? What is the burning question that you want to answer, or change that you want to bring about?
  • If money were no object, what would you do? Put aside the pay check for a moment and the bills which need paying. If your finances were comfortable and you were in complete control of your destiny, how would you spend your time? What would you focus on?

Your why is your mission. Use the 3 questions above as prompts to help you find your own. It gives you strength in testing times and keeps you humble and focused when things go well. Find it and you will discover strength and ability which you may not have realised that you possess. Coupled with a deep belief in what you are doing, and a dogged determination to succeed, you will soon find yourself on a journey through life which is as fulfilling and meaningful as it is successful.

Taking responsibility.

Also referred to as accountability or taking ownership, taking responsibility for our decisions and actions is crucial if we want to lead lives which are happy and fulfilled.

There are times when we find ourselves in bad situations only to realise that, after some honest reflection, that those circumstances were a result of our decisions, actions or lack thereof. These instances, although less than ideal, have the power to become a force for good, IF we act upon them. Firstly, we need to accept responsibility for what has happened. This should then be followed  by some introspective reflection,  exploring where we may have gone wrong and what lessons can be learned. Then comes action. Having turned the undesirable situation into a learning experience, we take action to address it and get ourselves back on track. Sounds simple when described in those terms, but there is a lot of hard work involved as well as difficult questions.

Today, however, I would like to discuss taking responsibility for times when bad things happen through no fault of out own. Unfortunately, it happens and there is little we can do about it. Sometimes it happens as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes we become the victims of the manipulations and machinations of others. It’s our response to when things go wrong which are not our fault, that shape our character and determine whether we will make progress towards our goals and a fulfilled life.

The truth is that when these setbacks are viewed with a pessimistic eye, or we adopt a victim mentality, it breeds further unhappiness. We become disheartened and our progress towards our goals screeches to a halt, which can create a cycle of negativity, potentially ushering in anxiety and depression.

On a brighter note, research has shown that there is an alternative. A very good one. This one involves a combination of positivity, hope and confidence that you have the strength and ability to overcome this setback. When you realise that failure is not permanent or fatal, unless you refuse to take action, you are on your way to making a comeback. Buoyed by this realisation, as above, the next step is to reflect on yourself and your goals and plan your recovery. Finally, you need to take action, which will get you back on track. In this way, the setback becomes not only an opportunity to learn from, and reassess your efforts, but it also builds resilience. Overcoming one obstacle gives you the strength, courage and wisdom to either avoid further obstacles on your journey, or bounce back from future bumps in the road.

What happened to you is often not your fault. How you respond to it, however, is your choice. You can choose to stay down and blame everyone and everything else. OR you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fight back.

Which will you choose when the time comes?

The shortcut to greatness. ..

…is a myth. There is no secret, special formula or anything else. Sorry to burst your bubble. This may come as a surprise, because we are constantly being told that there is. Then again, those who usually claim to have all the answers usually have a book or a training course to sell too. Coincidence?!

The hard truth is that, in order to achieve success and greatness in your chosen arena, there must be hard work and effort. An awful lot of it. You have to do what others are not willing to. Consistently. Sacrifices and compromises will need to be made, and you will need to become resilient and persistent if you hope to persevere and overcome the obstacles and problems which you will encounter.

If you can do this, you will make progress. Progress not only with regards to your goals, but also your self awareness. You will, through all of the ups and downs and lessons learned, grow as a person.

Business publications and social media would have you believe that success can come quickly and bring tremendous riches. All that they are showing, though, is just the glamorous and appealing  end result and not the journey or the process itself. This is a shame, as the journey and process are what truly matter. This is where we are challenged to learn and grow, and discover who we truly are and what we are capable of. Gary Vaynerchuk tells us that “life is a marathon, not a sprint” and I couldn’t agree more. If you are going to be successful in pursuit of your goals, you will need patience and dogged determination. And you absolutely must fall in love with the journey and the process. 

Resilience

We recently added optimism to the list of elements which can help us on our journey of self discovery and growth. But does it not sound a little too simplistic?! So far we have learned that we should adopt a growth mindset and an optimistic outlook before setting goals and taking action if we want to succeed. As for failure, which is inevitable in any undertaking, it should not be feared but rather welcomed as an opportunity to learn and grow. So, armed with all of the above, you should confidently go forth and be rewarded with the life of your dreams, right? The problem is that if it was as easy as that sounds, we would all be entrepreneurs, actors, singers or astronauts.

So, what is it that high achievers do or possess that allows them to achieve their goals and ambitions? This element goes by many names, such as resilience, perseverance, mental strength or persistence. There is also an excellent book on this subject by Angela Duckworth, which defines it as grit.

Resilience, or whichever definition you prefer, is a passion and perseverance for long-term goals but means different things to different people. For some it is a stamina, which gives the strength to rise from setbacks and finish what they started. For others, it is the knowledge that, as long as you keep learning and putting in the work, you will get back on the right track. In other words, it is a belief that failures and setbacks are just a bump on the road towards success. It is the drowning out of the negative comments and misgivings of naysayers, no matter how good their intentions, and having confidence and faith in your own ability.

Resilience is not something you are born with, which you either have or don’t. The good news is that it can be worked on and developed, and here are some of the ways which work for me when  things don’t go according to plan and failure pays a visit;

  • Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is where optimism, a positive outlook and perspective really help. Keep reminding yourself of your purpose and why you are doing this. What do you want to achieve? What skills and behaviours do you want to foster and develop? What kind of person do you want to become by the end of your journey? How is this done, though? ⇓⇓
  • Reflect. Remind yourself, ideally in a reflective journal,  of what you are grateful for, and the progress which you have made so  far. This will help steer you back towards a positive mindset. Once you have rediscovered your optimism, it’s time to look for reasons as to why a particular setback happened. This is healthier and more productive than making excuses and becoming disheartened.
  • Evaluate. With things back into perspective, your optimism returned and an awareness of what went wrong, it’s time to bring it all together with an honest evaluation. This is where you determine how you will be getting back on track and moving forward. What resources do you have available to you? Are there any gaps in your knowledge which you can address? Most importantly, though, you now have an opportunity to challenge yourself, venturing once more outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself to do something which you think you can’t.

Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive and others may use methods and strategies which work just as well, if not better. If you are one of these people, I would love to hear about your experiences and what works for you.

Resilience means different things to different people, but at its core it’s the faith that setbacks are only temporary, and actually offer an opportunity to learn and grow. Furthermore, it is the confidence that you will soon be back on course, stronger and better informed.