Come back to fight another day …

Dr. Tony Alessandra, in his current Dr. T’s Tips, talks about resiliency. This strikes home and merits repeating.

Resilience means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, or barriers, or limited resources. Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing, and able, to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength. For instance, how many cold calls can you make in a row that all turn out to be “no thank you?”

Remember Abraham Lincoln? You wouldn’t, if he had given up. In 1832, he was defeated for the state legislature. Then he was elected to it in 1834. In 1838, he was defeated for speaker of the state house. In 1840, he was defeated for elector. Lincoln ran for Congress in 1843 and guess what — he was defeated. He was elected to Congress in 1846 and then lost for re-election in 1849. He ran for U.S. Senate in 1855 and — was defeated. In 1856, he was defeated for Vice-President. He ran again for the U.S. Senate in 1858 and lost. And in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States — one of the best ones we have ever had — but only after eight major setbacks. That is resilience!

Your challenge to stay resilient may not be quite the size of Abe Lincoln’s. You might be working on making a sales quota when 90% of your prospects say “no.” You might be pushing for a change in a local zoning ordinance and you have to fight city hall. You might be trying to get your co-workers to recycle paper in order to save money and trees. When you are up against obstacles, you can either maintain your resilience — or cave in to defeat.

We are all pretty resilient when we are little. We fall down and pick ourselves up again. The tent we make with sheets and cardboard gets blown apart by the wind and we put it back together again. Someone says we cannot go to the park ’cause it is raining, and we find something else to do. However, somewhere along the way, we start to develop a rigidity toward the unexpected, and then toward change in general. We lose our ability to shift course or to try something else. We lose our resilience.

Let me give you a couple of tips on improving your resilience. Here is an exercise that is fun and can tell you something about yourself. Finish this sentence with five different endings: “When I’m faced with a problem I…. ”

I’ll give you 30 seconds to come up with any five answers. Be creative.

“When I’m faced with a problem I…”

Is there a pattern to your answers?

Here are some answers I came up with for myself: “When I’m faced with a problem I…”

– generate several different options to deal with it.
– ask my wife, Sue, what she thinks).
– listen to music in the dark.
– say to myself: OK, “this too shall pass.”
– call one of my friends to get their input.
– decide it is time to read the sports page.

Now some of those answers are useful and some are silly. However, what that exercise revealed to me was that my attitude is basically one of engaging the problem rather than running away from it. I hope you have some silly answers among the serious ones. But I hope that your answers indicate that your basic approach to problems is a hands-on, can-do attitude. That’s the stuff resilience is made of.


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