Let’s face it, in life there will be setbacks. Many famous entrepreneurs and innovators—Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, to name a few—failed to achieve their goals before eventually bouncing back and succeeding. While the extent and causes of their failures may have been different, they all had one thing in common — they were resilient in the face of setbacks. In other words, they did not give up.
If you are going through a period of failure, or a time when things don’t seem to be working out the way you’d hoped, you may be tempted to throw in the towel. You may be telling yourself, “I’ll never lose this weight,” “I’ll never bring my sugar under control,” etc. etc. But in order to be resilient, you would have to dismiss those thoughts and press forward.
If Thomas Edison had not failed 1000 times at inventing the light bulb, we may still have it today, but someone else would have gone down in history as the creator. If Walt Disney had not experienced one failure after another, we may not have a Disneyworld today. Commenting on his failures, Walt Disney said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all the troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Did you ever watch the famous boxing champion Muhammad Ali in the ring? I am not a boxing fan by any means, but like the rest of the world, I was fascinated by Ali’s prowess in the ring. He would lean against the rope and allow his opponent to hammer him for the first few rounds, and just when fans were becoming anxious that he might lose the match, he would throw a couple quick punches, and the other boxer would be down for the count. He did this every time. This was his way of being resilient in the ring. He showed resilience in his personal life as well, but that would be for another post.
I am not telling you that you have to allow life to beat up on you like a boxer in the ring. What I am saying is that after you have taken a few punches, you begin to learn some things. You begin to understand what you did wrong previously, you begin to gauge where the next blow may come from and how to avoid it, when to stay in your corner and when to throw a few jabs of your own.
With each failure you will find yourself becoming stronger, more confident, less afraid of what the future may hold. If you tried skipping breakfast in order to lose weight and that didn’t work, you learn to try and try again until you find the formula that works for you. Make no mistake, everyone is different. What worked for your friend may not work for you. Like Muhammad Ali, you have to master your own resilience technique.
But whatever you do, don’t give up, as that is the only way you can truly fail. In order to be resilient, study the examples of others —not just famous people, but ordinary people you admire— to see how they bounced back from failure or from adversity. Record your thoughts, feelings, actions in your journal. Doing so will bring things more into focus and show you what changes you can make. Finally, if you are really finding it difficult, reach out to a coach or trusted friend for help.