Success in life is determined by your ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill
Have you had days when you woke up staring at the ceiling with a mind void of purpose to begin the day? Have you felt that you needed a jolt of motivation to ignite your passion? I have. I had those days when defeatist thoughts held my brain hostage by counting all the “bad things” that took wind out of my motivation and perseverance. It’s like kicking yourself in the rear when you’re already down.
When you’re down, it seems impossible at times to ever win the game of life. Your thoughts gravitate rapidly towards the abyss of despair and pessimism. Seemingly even a nice, sunny day makes you feel lost in the never-ending tunnel of darkness. You pronounce that it’s over and tag yourself a loser. All of these happen between your two ears.
The real reality is starkly different from the “reality” that you’ve created in your mind. What you’ve created is a reality based on the mental conditioning –that exists– in your brain by interacting with your friends, family members and even the media. The real reality is that if you think hard, if you don’t cave into those defeatist thoughts, if you never lose focus of what inspires you in the first place – there’s always a lifeline to latch on to and pull yourself out of a slump!
What Causes the Slump?
When we feel a slump, there are three factors contributing to foment this downward spiral in our mind. Once we understand these factors and develop an awareness towards them, we can start looking up and push ourselves out of the abyss of despair.
- Our perceived result ~ Anything we do in life has to deliver a fulfilling, achievable result in terms of financial or spiritual reward that we seek from this effort.
- Our thoughts ~ Our desire to seek this reward is tied to our self-imposed limitation by a factor called time.
- Our environment ~ This includes our family members, friends and others who influence our thoughts.
The nexus between our expectations and the time is one of the lethal combinations to spark the flame of slump in our mind. When I wanted to purchase my first hotel, I had to trudge along many bumps on the road. I’ve stumbled upon some shiny truth about the slump that I felt and also found the ways to overcome that slump. At first after waiting for many days, I was told by the seller that he had no interest in selling the hotel to me at that time. His grudging voice on the phone indicated a harsh reality. I started thinking, “Why is he doing this to me?”. Then more thoughts rushed in, “I better give up. If he is so harsh, he may already have a buyer. It’s a waste of time.” — this was the fake reality that I’d created in my mind. I’d been cornered by the defeatist thoughts for the mental chatter that made me believe that I ought to give up. Months later — when I squashed the bug to own that hotel — I received a call from the same seller. When I look back, my perceived result of buying a hotel with a time line that I had in mind was a creation of my own thoughts. What I learned from this experience is that the result that we seek always comes — sometimes earlier than what we allow ourselves and sometimes later than what we allow ourselves. The variance of time plays a major role in our slump. The art of winning against odds lies in learning an important axiom of life – We can control what we seek; We cannot control the time it takes to achieve what we seek.
7 Must Habits to Win against the odds
1. Learn to accept responsibility for your actions. ~
Finger pointing is one of the most repugnant of all character flaws. With illusive self-image, we tend to live in denial to admit that the desired outcome has not arrived at the time limit we imposed on our efforts. It’s a misalignment of our perception of time it takes to achieve a desired result that throws us into this dismal behavior. Learn to admit that what you’ve set your mind to achieve has not happened or delayed for some things that were not known to you. Make a steadfast commitment to learn from the experience and revise the time to achieve your set goal.
I can help take someone from failure to success but I can’t take them from excuses to success because if you’re making excuses you haven’t yet realized where the real problem lies.
~ John Maxwell
2. Admit your mistakes. ~
Another character ding is not admitting a mistake in the face of adversity. Adversity is nothing more than a perception flaw of what we wanted against what we reap after exerting our efforts. If you are wrong, admit it. That’s the first step towards building our own conscience. It also helps us receive support from others to try harder by creating a positive self image of transparency. If you don’t allow mistakes in your life, success may always be in exile. The road to success is built with the asphalt of mistakes.
Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. — Bruce Lee
3. Develop mental toughness. ~
Your mental toughness is a gauge of your ability to persist in the face of adversity. Developing mental toughness allows you to remain poised when the going gets tough. After finishing my graduate studies in Mechanical engineering, I had to wait four long months to get an interview. The job was for a machinist. I was determined to be a machinist. I was the only machinist on the floor with a master’s degree. It didn’t bother me. Later on, I was promoted to be an engineer and in less than a year, I was the lead engineer in the same group. Many of my friends never found a job in early 90’s. What I learned from this experience is that it took a while for me to get a job, but I succeeded with the poise and determination to get the job I wanted in the end. No one is born with the inherent character of mental toughness. It can be learned, and you must learn it to win against the odds.
It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. — Lord Vince Lombardi
4. One goal at a time. ~
Whenever I have tried to accomplish many goals by juggling to allocate time to several goals, I’ve found myself exhausted at the end of the day with the feeling of lack of accomplishment. This negative influence has worked like a chain of reaction by causing more stress and misery on the following day and so on. Life is good when we make it simple. Untangle the web of conflicting goals and start working on one goal at a time. You’ll be amazed at the boost in your energy level and a new-found passion as a result.
When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal. — Napolean Hill
5. Develop your inner self. ~
We do many things in life to glorify outer existence that is a mean to show off to others. Building a strong body, possessing a nice home, possessing a nice car and so on – These are the goals for our ego. I’m not against it, but I’m also amazed by many who ignore their inner self in a vain search of happiness from this ego nurturing goals. Do you meditate everyday? Or do you perform yoga? Or do you spend solo time to reflect on your inner strengths and weaknesses? All of these build your character. I have benefited immensely by spending thirty minutes to meditate daily. It has built my character, faith and resolve to persist in the face of adversity. Try any of these activities and see the result for yourself.
The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. — James Allen
6. Focus on what you can control. ~
Our impulsive thoughts always tend to waste our life-energy by focusing on things that we cannot control. For example, when I wanted to buy my first hotel, I made an offer and I was rejected. The seller was not ready to sell for some personal reasons. This was beyond my control. I started to think, “Why is he doing this to me?” I drowned myself in the ocean of self-pity for the reasons that I didn’t know, and — even if I did — I had no control over them. My reaction should have been, “What thoughts, habits and actions can I change to get the result I wanted?” Dwell more on what you can do and not on what you cannot. It’s not the circumstances that cause us to react in a certain way, it’s a certain way we choose to react to the circumstances that matters most to win against the odds.
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. — Mark Twain
7. Never stop learning. ~
Learning is a life long process. When time gets tough, we tend to close all the doors leading to our enlightenment. Leave the doors of knowledge open. Try to learn new skills, try to read daily, try to listen to the motivational or a personal development tapes to feed positivity to your mind. All of these can make you a better person with the attitude, self-esteem and the skill to master the art of winning against the odds.
When everything seems to be working against you – remember that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
I admire those first settlers who left life of comfort to sail away in search of a new world to master the art of triumph against all odds.
No matter how difficult your circumstances are, you can overcome once you master the art of winning against all odds.
Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
~ Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American politician.