Note from Stephen: This is the first article in a series that will examine the characteristic traits of successful people.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. –Robert Francis Kennedy
Resilience: The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
The most important characteristic of successful people may be their resilience. In life’s journey there will be many challenges, difficulties, and failures. A successful life will see many wins but also many disappointments and failures. To be counted among those successful people, you must have the resilience to bounce back “truly alive” as Bob Proctor says:
Resilience is the ability to come back after great disappointment or pain, after great loss or failure, and be truly alive. — Bob Proctor
The thrill of victory is only made possible by the agony of defeat.
- Build a strong network of positive relationships with family and friends.
- Ask for help.
- Take your next action.
- Keep your eye on the prize.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Be flexible.
- Be positive.
- Focus on the good in yourself.
- Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 and it had metastasized into his lungs, stomach, and brain. Three years later in 1999, he won the first of what was to become a record-breaking seven straight Tour de France victories.
- Donald Trump declared bankruptcy in his business and also had almost one billion dollars in personal debt. Trump bounced back from this failure to become one of the most recognizable real-estate and business moguls in the world today.
- Joanna K. Hill lost 12 members of her family in a four-year period. It started with her husband and ended with her son. Yet throughout it all she looks for the positive and gives thanks for what she does have.
- Thomas Edison tried nearly 10,000 times before succeeding with the electric light bulb. At 67 years old his factory went up in flames. Looking at the ruins he said “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
- Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series that has sold over 100,000,000 copies, relates how they failed with publishers 149 times before finding one that was willing to publish their first book.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected by film schools three times.
- Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper for lacking in ideas.
There are tens of thousands of similar stories of struggle and failure in the lives of the successful. Most successful people will say that they learned more from their failures than they did from their success.
Failure is not falling down, it is staying down. Do not fear failure. Embrace failure and learn from it. Achievers do not saturate themselves with thoughts of failure. A successful person will analyze the risk and yet still walk to the edge and let go.
I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. –Thomas Edison
You can choose to cultivate resilience and join the 3% of the population doing what they love and succeeding at it. Or you can keep doing what got you nowhere. It’s your choice.
How to Build and Maintain Resilience
- Build a strong network of positive relationships with family and friends. These relationships will support you through the tough times. Being connected to others will help you sustain your resilience.
- Ask for help. Use your own resources, but when you get stuck do not be afraid to ask for help. You are reading this on the Internet. It’s a good place to start connecting with people who may be able to help. Use your network of in-person relationships for those really tough times.
- Laugh. When something goes wrong laugh. Laugh out loud and laugh hard. I got this idea from Bob Proctor and I tried it. It works!
- Take your next action. Figure out what you need to do next and do it. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Get up and move!
- Keep your eye on the prize. Maintain focus on your ultimate benefit. I’m not talking about immediate benefits like more money, but the final destination. You may want financial independence in order to be able to have free time so you can pursue your dream in order to be happy. Financial independence is not the prize. Happiness is the prize. Focus on your dream and how happy it will make you.
- Learn from your mistakes. Resilient people will look, and sometimes you have to look hard, for the lesson to be derived from the experience.
- Be flexible. Anticipate challenges, problems, and failures. Know from the start that you will have to change along the way, adjust to the unexpected, and pick yourself up from defeat.
- Be positive. A general characteristic of positivity may be the most important thing you can do. Negative self-talk is a downward spiral. Positive self-talk is an upward spiral. Spiral upwards please!
- Focus on the good in yourself. No matter what happens your life is full of success and you need to focus on that success when you are feeling discouraged or defeated. Write down every win you can think of that you have had in your life. Get yourself excited about what you know you can do.
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