Shit happens. Of course, sometimes great things happen. And the thing is, it happens to us all. We all live bad times, we all live great times and that…that is the key to success.
What is success?
Success is not about knowing how to generate a profit or find a new client. That’s actually a very limited definition of success. Success isn’t even luck or wealth either. No, it’s much simpler simpler than that. When the bad times come or when the good times come, there are two basic ways to respond. You can rise up or you can hide. You can create or you can bury your head. Every time you choose to keep on truckin’ instead of standing still — that’s success.
- Why does the entrepreneur keep going when the business seems to be going nowhere?
- Why does the author keep pushing after every publisher has said no?
- Why do you continue looking for the “dream job” after all the other interviews don’t go your way?
Did you know Seth Godin got rejected 950 times before selling his first book? And JK Rowling? She got rejected 12 times before Harry Potter got picked up. Kris Carr got diagnosed with a slow-growing stage 4 terminal cancer, but instead of sitting back and waiting, she decided to turn her life around. She’s now a New York Times best selling author.
But, your tough times are much worst. Right?
What’s really going on?
There’s a physical part of your brain — the amygdala — that controls primal responses like fear, sex and the fight or flight response. Steven Pressfield calls that The Resistance, you can call it what you would like, but I think both success and failure pushes it into action. You see, at its core, it’s there to protect you. Failure is harmful; so the amygdala pushes you to go hide so you can’t fail anymore. Interestingly success also means harm and, in a way, it’s much worst because you’ll fall from much higher when you fail. So go hide before you ultimately fall. But I don’t even think that’s the scary part. I think the really scary part is this: The Resistance often goes unnoticed. Sometimes others can see it, but it’s rarely, if ever, noticeable to you. That’s why you stay at the dead-end job or you put off the project or you let “other stuff” get in the way.
There always seems to be a perfectly good reason to hide, isn’t there?
Once you realize that every time you feel “I don’t want to do this” or “I shouldn’t do this” or “this is never going to happen” or even worst, “I can’t do this,” it’s only The Resistance talking; then, you can go ahead and do what scares you. Not because you’re particularly brave, but because you’re only being protected from something that isn’t really harmful. Because you need to stand tall if you want to move on.
Ignoring The Resistance and achieving success
How do you ignore The Resistance? How do you choose to stand up and keep going? I think the answer is Resilience or an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. I don’t know if you’re born with it or if you learn it, but the American Psychological Association suggests 10 ways to build resilience:
- Maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others;
- Avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems;
- Accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
- Develop realistic goals and move towards them;
- Take decisive actions in adverse situations;
- Look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
- Develop self-confidence;
- Keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
- Maintain a hopeful outlook, expect good things and visualize what is wished;
- Take care of your mind and body by exercising regularly, paying attention your needs and feelings.
I’m not sure you need all 10, sometimes only one or two will do. Almost like a Swiss Army knife — you pick the tools you need:
- When you don’t control what’s going on — accept it and let it be.
- When you’re not sure if you can do it — learn to believe in yourself.
- When you don’t know where to go — pick a destination that makes sense and start walking.
So what are we left with? We all have dizzying highs and scary lows . Some are more dizzying or scary. Some are actually very scary and dizzying. That’s a given.
How you respond, that’s what makes all the difference.
(Photo credit: Shane Anderson)