I meet many talented people in my travels who fail to live to their fullest potential. The usual reason given is fear of failure. But I say that we must never underestimate the other reason why people fail. That is, some of us spend a lot of time and energy dwelling on problems and wallowing in bad things that may happen to us from time to time. This keeps us from moving on to the good stuff and ‘getting on with it’.
We were never taught at school how to deal with setbacks. We were never given a formula or strategy. Which is pretty silly because you would think that this is a very important life skill. Sure, men are told to ‘harden up’ and women are told to ‘get over it’, but in this ultra competitive age, such advice does not cut it. It only sweeps the issue under the carpet.
I have a three step process that I use personally and share with my mentoring clients. I find it very effective and I’d like to share it with you.
When bad things happen in life, we are faced with three scenarios of acceptance. Something truly empowering happens when you accept your problems. Your heart will feel calmer and your mind starts to focus on the solution. You may not be able to change the past but you sure can do your best to shape your future.
There is a time when you have to accept what life brings you and not resist it or deny it. There is a time for action and a time for reflection and acceptance. It is no use getting upset about the things that are outside of your control. At these times, you should open up your journal and pour your heart’s feelings onto the pages. After you do this you must ask yourself two very important questions.
Firstly, ‘Is there anything I can do to fix the problem or meet the challenge?’ If so, then you must take action with courage.
Secondly, ‘If I cannot do anything to fix the problem, is there anything I can learn from what happened?’ If so, then at the very least you can prevent it from happening again.
In both cases, you are accepting the challenge and not running away from it. The only difference is that one requires you to take action with courage and the other requires you to learn from it and move on.
Thirdly, if you can neither learn from or fix the problem then you must turn to ‘gratefulness’ as your hearts safety net. When we find it very difficult to accept terrible things that may befall us in life, all we can do is be grateful for the life we have. We can always be grateful for something in our life. Reminds me of the old arabic proverb which goes something like this, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet.” It’s all about focusing on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. I can go on and on about this simple life lesson; instead I urge you to read Chapter 15 of my book, “A Higher Branch” about the story of young Jessica and how she overcame her eating disorder simply by changing her focus in life.
My personal philosophy is that not knowing what happens next in life makes it interesting (That’s why we love to watch sport). Life is like sport. All we can do is play our best game. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. The main thing is to stay in the game.