I’ve heard it said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” After years of overcoming sizable obstacles and constantly surprising myself with resilience, I have learned that this statement is quite true. Often, it is our perception of ourselves before the test that determines how we come out of the test. It always amazes me how people deem themselves as failures long before the challenge is under way. Especially when they have no previous historical facts that the outcome they fear will actually happen the way they imagine.
Several years ago, I heard the story of a man who had a pretty good job by all standards. The time was the late 1950s and he was considered to be a successful business banker until major corporate layoffs stopped him in his tracks. With a wife and four children to feed, he set out daily to find work by any means to feed his family. Armed with a college degree, he quickly found it was difficult to find manual labor because everyone thought he was overqualified. It wasn’t until his brother in law offered him a seasonal Christmas gig that he uncovered his true calling. It was a late evening and as was the custom, the Christmas tree salesmen had to knock off for the day. This man made the decision to spend his last bit of money to purchase every extension cord he could find. He then made arrangements with neighboring tenants to run these cords into their building for electricity. The rest was history. By staying on the streets longer than the competitors around the corner, he quickly turned a seasonal opportunity into a gold mine for his family to survive. That is a perfect example of facing a hard time head on.
Resilience is the foundational key to not only surviving, but thriving in life. We get knocked down from time to time. What determines your success is what you are telling yourself is going to happen next. Here are a few things to remember the next time you are facing a major challenge:
- Failure is not finale; it is the toll you pay on the bridge of greatness: Our first major obstacle is we think failure isolates us from others. Get over it! I challenge you to look around and find someone who got it right on their first try. Failure doesn’t alienate you; it makes you a part of humanity. We are creatures of trial and error. We connect best when we are truthful about our shortcomings.
- To be strong, be honest about your weaknesses: Transparency is the key to a successful life. Gone are the days where people imagined a “perfect” person. We know more than ever before that no one on Earth is perfect. We don’t expect it and become suspicious of anyone who says they are. People are longing for “realness.” Just be honest and open about your process and people will respect you.
- Embrace your circle of influence during tough times: Often, we do the exact opposite of this. When things get tight, we turn into introverts and avoid going to events because of embarrassment. If the people around you are really for you, they want to be a part of every process of your journey, not just the good things. Let them in. They will help you transition.
- Learn to rebound quickly: We all have rough patches that seem to deflate us. These are the times to go back to the drawing board and launch the next big thing. Don’t allow too much time for pity when you fail. Getting up and going is often the best medicine.
Life throws many curve balls. We swing and most times we miss. The thing to remember is in the end, you will not be judged by the failures you have endured. Instead, people will celebrate you for the guts it took to keep swinging until you finally connected with your big dreams.
© 2012, Early L. Jackson. All rights reserved.