In my previous posts, I looked at the importance of strengthening your mindset to succeed in life. Here I’ll offer some of my insights that make up what I call the necessary things you need to do to be and remain strong.
- Be Hopeful, but also Realistic and Tough
James Stockdale was a naval officer who endured seven hellish years of imprisonment during the Vietnam War. He was beaten and tortured. His shoulders were wrenched from their sockets, his leg was shattered, his back was broken. He was kept in solitary confinement in a tiny cell.
In his business book, Good to Great, Jim Collins details a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding how he coped. Stockdale said, “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end…”
Collins asked him who didn’t survive, and Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists…they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go…And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then added, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Mindset is far more than “positive thinking”—it’s about being mentally tough. It’s an attitude of pushing through every challenge, even and especially when things don’t work out how you expect or hope them to.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We must accept infinite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
- Commitment and Perseverance Trump Everything Else
Most people think that what’s keeping them stuck is a lack of knowledge and skill. The reality is that any lack of knowledge, skill, or experience is easily compensated for through commitment and perseverance.
Millions of entrepreneurs have proven this countless times. Henry Ford had no idea how to build an auto empire—but that’s exactly what he did. Chris Gardner knew nothing about being a stockbroker, but he hustled so hard that a movie was made about him (The Pursuit of Happyness). Oprah Winfrey had no experience in media until she got a job as a newsreader at a local black radio station.
Successful people earn their way to the top—not through knowledge and skill, but through commitment and perseverance.
Calvin Coolidge sums it up: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”
- Believe in Yourself
Doubt says, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Faith says, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” The most successful people have always had an abiding belief in themselves. No matter what challenges they faced, no matter what failures knocked them down, they just knew that they would succeed no matter what.
Self-doubt kills more dreams than failure ever could. Before you can succeed, you have to believe that you’re worthy of success and that you have what it takes. Believe it first, and it will manifest. When you alter your belief system, you change your biochemistry and physiology. Allow life to question you. Remain your own worst critic, providing feedback to yourself at all times. When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe. Then only then will you succeed.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live,” said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
In my next post, I’ll look at how the five key things you can do to strengthen your mindset. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you bout your own attitudes to yourself: do you doubt yourself? Do you have realistic expectations? Thank you for sharing.
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