Sometimes life requires that you simply put your head down, go to work, and just keep on keepin’ on. (So to speak.) It’s not necessarily that you’re on the wrong path, it’s just that the path is a little steep, a bit rocky, and we just need to keep moving and find our rhythm. That’s life.
It’s in our extremity that we find out what we’re made of, and when we become stronger. When we confront life’s obstacles we eventually tap hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And, it’s when we face failure that we recognize that we always possessed this extra strength. So, when the road seems long and the journey is tough, hang in there and tap into your second wind. Or, as one of my favorite singers said,
“Don’t give up on trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love
and inspiration you can’t go wrong.”
The thing is, things change. Constantly. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not. Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less cushy than the one you had before.
Obstacles are developmentally necessary: they teach us strategy, patience, critical thinking, resilience and resourcefulness, and these only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems.
Sometimes the trick is maintaining a positive perspective despite our concerns and circumstances. When life is tough, I can’t help but recite a little poem I’ve known for years:
Two men look out
through the same set of bars.
One sees the mud;
the other, the stars.
The question is, what are we going to do about our situation today? We can despair and panic. We can hide under the covers and toss our fate to the wind. Or we can be resilient and face the challenges directly. We can realize that we have the power to not only survive, but to turn a frenzied condition into an opportunity to develop and achieve.
We must assess things as they really are, knowing the economy and the world are obviously evolving. So how are we to resiliently thrive through through the trying transitions of our lives? Here are some ideas:
First, acknowledge the seasonality of the situation. Every season has challenges and opportunities. Pick your phrase to get you through. “This too shall pass.” “The sun will come out tomorrow.” “What a difference a day makes.” Life is all about patterns, and while it’s darkest before dawn, the sun will rise tomorrow and a new day with new opportunities begins again. Look forward. It’ll all work out.
Second, capitalize on pessimism. At a time of great uncertainty, the late Sir John Templeton recognized the power of maximum pessimism. During the 1930’s, he dove into a new investment career, targeting nations, industries, and companies on their financial ropes—a time he coined as ‘points of maximum pessimism.’ In his own words, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell,” he stated. When things are down, move up. When life is hard, then is the opportunity to improve your situation. Step back from the frenzy, take a deep breath, and do what works, not what the crowd is doing. Just think, tomorrow’s fantastic success story starts today.
Third, choose faith. While facing uncertainty, we have a choice: fear or faith. Both are derived in our head and heart. Sure, the future is uncertain. But it is for everyone, and you can face it fearfully, or faithfully. Anthony Robbins says fear is “‘imagination undirected’ which devastates our emotions and oppresses our sense of well-being.” And faith is the opposite: ‘imagination directed’. We can flounder fearfully, moving towards nothing, or we can create a plan and move towards it with assurance, ready to accept whatever the outcome is.
Choosing faith and being resilient doesn’t mean the absence of fear, but it does mean that you control it. Controlling fear allows you to see possible advantages while others speak only bleakness. Another downside of fear is that you focus on yourself only. To truly succeed, even in a down cycle of life, you must have something or someone to serve outside yourself. You need to focus not only on what you can get, but what you can give. Interestingly, it’s when you give, particularly when it’s a sacrifice to do so, that it returns tenfold. The trick? Just begin.
Life has its seasons, and it’s ups and downs. Again, be resilient and remember that seasons don’t last forever. Whether you’re up or you’re, just remember that all is well. But, when you’re down, take time to stop and internalize the lessons of today. They are plenty. And, when our skies are dark, look up and remember that it’s only now that we can study the stars and plan for tomorrow. The point is, confront the challenges you face today, and create solutions. They exist. Today’s the day to take the action that will bloom great success tomorrow.