How Successful Entrepreneurs Overcome Self-Doubt Each Day

GettyImages-1190572650.jpgDiane von Furstenberg is a Belgian fashion designer who has built her namesake company into one of the most recognizable in the world.

Furstenberg has been listed as the world’s 68th most powerful, received an honorary doctorate, and been president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America for years.

Confidence should come easily to someone like this, wouldn’t you think?

But Furstenberg does not see herself this simply. She believes she’s a constant work in progress and says successful people (like herself) probably feel like losers at least once a week.

Furstenberg said she feels self-doubt continually. What does that look like in her life?

“Oh, just, you know. You feel like a loser, you wake up and you doubt. So my trick is, I look in the mirror and say, “If you doubt your power, then you give power to your doubts.”

Squash Doubt to Bring Your Best Work to Life

Can you relate to Furstenberg?

You’re not alone. Even successful business owners grapple with self-doubt. Sometimes this can be a good thing, keeping you humble and helping you soberly evaluate limitations.

But for the most part, self-doubt is a form of sabotage that keeps you from fulfilling your potential. Successful people aren’t immune to uncertainty, but they refuse to let it derail their goals. Want to overcome doubt and achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish?

Here are several ways to combat that accusing voice:

1. Stop and Reset

When inner doubts creep in, deal with them immediately.

Don’t let paranoia spin out of control or imagine worst-case scenarios. Talk back to that doubtful voice with phrases like these:

“No. Stop. I’m not listening to this.”

 “I know where this train of thought leads, and I’m not getting on!”

“I’ve been successful in the past, and I will be again.”

As Steven Pressfield says in Do The Work! Overcome Resistance And Get Out Of Your Own Way,

“The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”

2. Deal with Anxiety Triggers

One way to squash doubt is to deal with it straight on.

What personal deficits or situations trigger your insecurity? If it’s a lack of skill, seek specific training. If it’s uncertainty about a decision, get counsel from other experts in your field. If it’s fear of the unknown, find coaches or mentors to walk you through this stage of uncertainty.

3. Avoid Comparisons

If you compare yourself to others, you will usually lose.

In today’s connected generation, usually your perspective of others is only the highlight reel, and certainly not the struggle or discipline it took to build success. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to YOU. Look at how far you’ve come, the progress you’ve made toward current goals, or how you’ve overcome obstacles in spite of hardship.

4. Don’t Depend on Validation

While the input of others can be helpful, confident leaders trust their own instincts.

We all like a pat on the back, but in seeking continual validation, you erode vision and weaken faith in yourself. When tackling a big project, get input initially, then trust your gut and make decisions that feel right to you.

Move Forward With Confidence

Having confidence in yourself is the best way to sharpen your unique voice.

Say no to accusation, confront anxiety triggers, and avoid putting too much weight in others’ opinions. Overpower doubt so you can maximize your potential.

How Re-Purposed Malls Can Teach Entrepreneurs a Lesson

Have you been to a dying mall lately?

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It can be pretty depressing. Empty storefronts litter the hallways like missing teeth in a hockey player’s mouth. Dim lighting seems to permeate each corner, and mall walkers bring more energy than any hint of retail activity. What was booming 30 years ago now feels like a bust.

With consumers shifting more of their shopping from physical to online spaces, young generations have a different perspective on what a buying experience should bring. This explains why some malls are dying, while others are thriving. What’s the difference?

In Maryland, one mall is renting space to a theater company while, in Michigan, one mall is now home to a cultural association that sponsors Chinese festivals. Some malls have transformed parts of their space to offer thriving art schools for walk-in shoppers. Others have created customer-centric experiences, like combining fashion consultants with on-site purchasing options.

Like most other sales venues, there is still a future for brick-and-mortar businesses. But this requires companies to sell strategically to young generations through methods that resonate.

What lessons can we learn from our friends in the mall?

Engaging, Experiential Shopping

There are numerous definitions of experiential purchasing.

Generally, this idea refers to stores where “extra” things happen in addition to selling, and where shoppers do more than just buying. As an entrepreneur, how can you offer people a chance to buy an experience or a memory rather than just an object or service? This may include massage chairs at the gym, in-store skills classes, or lifestyle opportunities (like art galleries in malls) that can be combined with a shopping experience.

Added Online Convenience

If you want people to visit your business, can you ease their journey by adding online convenience?

Like store pickups for pre-ordered groceries, merchants that simplify the purchasing experience will have more success. One business took orders for online samples then had three options ready and waiting when the customer came to preview them in the store.

Digital Campaigns with On-Site Flash Sales

One benefit of physical stores is strengthening emotional connections between consumers and brands.

While it is nice to order things online, sometimes swooping in to nab a deal brings a huge adrenaline rush (think Black Friday!). Can your business combine timely print or digital ads to promote 24-hour flash sales on the hottest items in your store? This creates the opportunity to lock in a client while potentially up-selling other products when people visit in person.

Lively, Professional Environments

People don’t just crave convenience; they crave connections.

When asked why people choose physical stores over online retailers, the number one response was a “need to see, touch, feel, and try out items.” How can you offer people better opportunities to interact directly with your products? When you do this, the physical shopping experience provides a tactile experience that simply can’t be matched online.

Your displays are a huge part of this. From oversized banners and full-panel window displays to music, lighting, and even scents, the environment you create must be better than ever. And with today’s print and digital technology, everything can be customized to immerse your clients in the most authentic brand experience possible!

The Definition of Success

While online shopping has re-written the rules of purchasing, buyers still crave experiences that can only be delivered in person. Remember, a successful space is one that people want to visit, so give people a reason to be there.

When they’re spending their time somewhere, they’re more likely to spend their money as well.

How This Successful Entrepreneur Keeps Inspiration Flowing

When you were a kid, what did you love to build?

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When Frank Yang was eight, he dreamed of building all kinds of things. One of his first creative concepts was a dog food dispenser with a timer that could feed house pets on demand. Yang used to tell people he wanted to be an inventor, but the adults in his life said he should be an accountant or an attorney instead.

Today, Yang is the founder and CEO of Simplehuman, a privately-owned company that designs and manufactures kitchen, bath, and beauty tools. Simplehuman is devoted to finding ways to streamline daily tasks for efficient living, including touch-free soap pumps, sensor-activated vanity mirrors, and automated trash cans.

Last year Yang’s love for building practical “problem solvers” grew Simplehuman’s revenues by $15% to more than $200 million. Yang says he continues to find joy in the dreaming:

“Even though I’m the CEO of Simplehuman, I spend about 60% of my time on [Research and Development], because that’s what I love – I think about it all day,” said Yang.

Maximize Mental Energy Through Your Weekly Routine

What fuels your inspiration?

Though your job may be full of many “ordinary” tasks, how can you keep creativity alive each day?

Some experts believe grounding yourself in daily rituals can be a foundation for success. In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey writes about the habits, routines, and rituals of hundreds of artists, including Frederic Chopin, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, and Ernest Hemingway. Even though their routines varied wildly, each individual had steps they followed to put them in an optimal state of mind. Currey came to this conclusion:

“In the right hands, [a routine] can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.”

Rituals you might include to fuel your creativity could consist of things like:

  • Rising early
  • Making coffee or making your bed
  • Morning runs or daily stretching
  • Prayer, breathing exercises, personal affirmations, or journaling
  • Lunchtime yoga or sports commitments
  • 10 minutes of browsing Pinterest or your favorite design publications
  • Accessible scratch pads in your car, office, or house (for random idea bursts)
  • Regular times spent visualizing success, writing goals, or brainstorming for future projects
  • Weekly lunch gatherings with friends who inspire you
  • Writing tomorrow’s goals at the end of each workday
  • Wind-down routines like space tidying, piano playing, evening walks, light reading, or “brain dumps” in a journal

Finding Solutions in Unlikely Places

Yang says that, though he has many responsibilities as CEO, he likes to stay focused on his primary passion, which is creating and developing.

And when he’s stuck in a rut, he goes back to simple pleasures:

“I really believe that my mind and body work together. We have a basketball court in the office, and if there’s a problem my team and I can’t solve, we’ll go there and shoot around . . . I [also] love cycling. I have three bikes in my office, and when I need a break, I ride around the parking lot for 15 minutes. I get this sense of freedom when I ride, but I also love the mechanical aspect of bikes, the way the gears shift, the way the frame is made, the geometry of the design. That inspires me.”

What is the “bicycle” in your life? Sometimes taking your mind in a different direction can help you find solutions when you are stuck!

Practical Skills for Successful Entrepreneurs

Smiling designer in her studio

It’s not easy to start (or run!) a business.

Many factors compete for your time and attention. Unexpected storms dampen passion or erode your resiliency. And then there are your competitors, who often have a jump on your best ideas.

The best entrepreneurs master a broad set of skills to manage obstacles that arise each day. While you need expertise and focus to succeed in your business, you’ll also need to nurture these four practical skills:

Adaptability

In business, things change quickly.

The smartest people in business are those who grow and evolve. What works today might not work tomorrow, so to stay competitive, you need to keep a few steps ahead in the game. Be flexible and be willing to change your strategy. This requires ambition, strategic planning, and creativity.

How do you keep those a priority? By embracing change!

If you always do the same thing, you won’t enjoy greater results. Be proactive about enriching your life with new experiences, expanded networks, and unique learning experiences. This may be as simple as talking to customers, delegating your areas of weakness, or signing up for a community course. Each experience can open doors to opportunities, or open your eyes to possibilities you hadn’t previously considered.

Time Management

If you don’t manage your time, your time will manage you.

Time management is the art of telling your minutes where you want them to go, and this requires two things: self-reflection, and the ability to say no. When you’re the leader of a business, there will be many demands on your time. People will constantly ask you for input, attendance, or leadership in areas that can overwhelm and distract.

How can you manage time well? Block out calendar segments where you can’t be interrupted or double-booked.

Hold firm boundaries: end meetings on time, set timers during phone calls, and refuse to multitask (when possible). Define your priorities, give focus to individual tasks, and use laser focus on accomplishing the very next thing, and you will be one step closer to achieving your big-picture goals.

Money Management

Nothing works if cash doesn’t flow.

No matter how solid the idea, success is doomed without the ability to raise, manage, and generate money.

As a business owner, you must create (and stick with) a budget, keep up on bills and expenses, and effectively invest in the right areas. If this seems overwhelming, consider taking a class, finding a professional mentor, or hiring an accountant to keep you on track. This is a small investment that can save you a load of sweat (and cash) while you’re growing your business.

A Thick Skin

Growing as a leader is an exercise in rejection.

Investors will pass, people will criticize, and team members will leave. To be the best in your field, you’ll have to learn from mistakes – and from criticism. If you let failures get you down, your business will never succeed.

Instead, view each disappointment as a chance to learn about people or to grow your courage. Be kind to yourself when others aren’t, and remember, you’ve only truly failed if you decide to quit! You can’t succeed without a few risks.

Seize the Day

Killing it as an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

But when you are flexible, courageous, and intentional, the odds tilt in your favor! Start with small improvements so you can seize the day and get the job done.

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact

GettyImages-853185816.jpgThe winter of 2013 was a hard one for Georgette Carter.

As a single mom raising two young boys while she cared for a father with dementia, money was very tight. Then, she totaled her car and found her resources – and her hope – were nearly gone. That is, until a 1996 blue Ford Contour arrived from the Connor Brother Collisions “Recycled Rides” program.

Conner Brothers of Richmond, VA, overhauls donated cars and awards them to people who have been nominated by community members. Carter said her heart was rehabilitated almost more than the car she received:

“It turned my life around. I can get to my job on time, and I don’t have to maneuver to get my child out of daycare. I’ll never take that for granted again.”

Getting Others Involved

Small businesses like Conner Brothers are creating innovative giving models that not only impact people but strengthen the business and the character of the companies themselves.

Kevin Conner said his company donated its first car and was looking to extend the “Recycled Rides” program to three other locations, but they had some pushback in the process. Some objected to giving away freebies when they were working so hard to earn a living themselves. But Conner says this mentality changed when employees got physically involved because compassion comes from being part of an experience instead of merely giving a donation:

“I got them involved in actually giving the cars away, handing over the keys,” Conner says. “Now the guys at the shop call me and ask, ‘When is our next car?’ It would be easy to give money or a service here or there, but it’s the teamwork behind the program that creates an amazing atmosphere for a successful company.”

The car giveaways have become such a cornerstone for Conner Brothers that the program helps define the type of employees the company wants.

“Giving back is a huge part of our company,” Conner says. “I challenge the guys every day to give back in some way, to give customers more than they expect. People remember that.”

Giving That “Changes” Lives

Another giving strategy comes from literal pocket change, as givers round up or down for charity.

For example, the ridesharing company Lyft recently launched an initiative allowing customers to round up their fare to the nearest dollar for military appreciation and human rights campaigns. More than 40,000 passengers donated over $100,000 in the first two months!

Grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and retailers have also invited customers to donate change to worthy causes. As technology and digital platforms make such giving easier, small businesses have challenged staff members to round down their net pay to the nearest dollar (or tenth dollar) and give the difference to charity. While painless or even unnoticed, these small donations add up to a collective impact with heartfelt results.

Whether your employees give financially, volunteer together, or embrace a community partnership project, innovative giving helps your business to:

  • Stand out from competitors or set itself apart in the community
  • Make matching donations alongside employee giving to multiply impact
  • Use positive feedback from supported causes to provide content for print and digital marketing
  • Increase team unity as employees give toward a common cause

While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative giving strategies begin with small business. Join us for part two of this series to gain more inspiration for a culture of charity that will strengthen your business.

How to Mobilize People Through Powerful Writing

Businessman Writing in Planner at Cafe Window“Darkest Hour,” a 2017 war drama film, devotes its narrative to the early days of British prime minister Winston Churchill, who rallied a nation against the merciless Nazi onslaught of World War II.

The film chronicles Churchill’s authentic, soul-stirring speeches and the Shakespearean gusto with which he delivered words like these: “Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

Though the world still heralds Churchill’s heroic statements, few people knew that Churchill overcame a lisp in his childhood by practicing his enunciation. Churchill understood the power of words early in life, and historians estimated that he spent one hour working on each individual minute of a speech he gave! Churchill sought to portray England’s struggle in a larger historical context: good outlasting evil, hope to overshadow the impossible, and perseverance overcoming persecution.

The result?

The entire fate of world history shifted through the hearts and hands of the people he inspired. President John F. Kennedy summed up Churchill’s influence like this: “In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone — and most men… despaired of England’s life — he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

Writing: The Building Block of Success

What can we learn from Winston Churchill?

While not all of us have oratory giftings, be encouraged that Churchill was also a student of language, and he overcame his limitations with study, practice, and passion!

Would you like to be more successful in your personal and professional impact?

Writing is the foundation of modern education and fundamental to all business success. Whether you’re penning a quarterly report, crafting an in-house memo, giving a congratulatory speech, or even dashing a quick e-mail, here are some tips for writing in a professional, persuasive manner:

  1. Grab them early.
    Great writing doesn’t allow readers to look away! Use punchy headlines, riveting stories, or gripping questions to draw them in immediately.
  2. Get to the point.
    After you use that “luring” intro, don’t let them linger! Get to the point quickly and efficiently, without “burying the lead” too deep in the text. Eliminate unnecessary words and use language that is clear and efficient. An energetic, fast-paced tone will assure them that reading to the end is worth their time.
  3. Be convincing but not too clever. Persuade your readers with clarity but also with logic and facts. Providing evidence (or examples) for your premise will build momentum and increase authority. As you write, keep a personal tone that is warm but convincing. Ask yourself, “would this make sense if I was sharing it with a friend over coffee?” Phrases with an awkward, artificial ring should probably get the ax!
  4. Keep it moving. As you lead readers toward a closing statement or action step, take a broad glance at the entire piece. Does it flow smoothly with a directional movement that builds toward a thoughtful climax? Does it read well on the page with adequate breaks and subheadings? Consider adding skim layers or reducing the size of a document if you sense people will be bogged down in your thoughts.
  5. Add depth and dimension. As you seek to add that extravagant bow to your smartly wrapped package, review your piece and look for ways you can really make it “sing.” Consider colorful vocabulary, punchy alliteration, or rich rhythms as you vary the length of your paragraphs. As French writer Charles Baudelaire once said, “always be a poet, even in prose.”

These Two Things are the Keys to a Successful Business

The physical and emotional abuse began when she was five years old.

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By the time she was 13, she was homeless and relying on the kindness of strangers to feed and house her. At 14, she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Shortly afterward, she was sent to live with an uncle in whom she later referred to as her “father.” Even though this teenager had suffered years of poverty and abuse, something fierce and fiery within her would not give up. She attended a Milwaukee high school and earned grades good enough to get her into the Upward Bound program, a federally funded program to help gifted students achieve academic success.

This determined, courageous young woman was later transferred to a suburban high school where she was picked on by her more affluent peers. After being caught stealing money to keep up with the lifestyle of her peers, she was once again sent to live with another relative in Nashville, TN. Here, she became an honors student and joined a speech/debate team that eventually took second place in a nation-wide dramatic interpretation contest.

After winning a college scholarship, working as a news reporter, and ultimately, landing her own TV show, Oprah Winfrey is now one of the world’s most famous, most beloved, and most successful women in history.

Attitude is Motivation and Motivation is Attitude

Imagine you are the owner of a bakery that was handed down to you by your parents and grandparents.

One of the traditions you continue to keep as the owner is wearing a large pin on your uniform that says “Business is Awesome!” While all business have down times, the idea behind the pin is that, no matter how the business is doing, your attitude remains the same.

What do you tell customers who ask you what’s so great about business? In most cases, people asking you this question are going through a rough time in their lives or may be coping with business problems themselves. You might tell them business is awesome because you love meeting new people every day or that business is great because you can work in an environment where everybody gets along and enjoys each other’s company.

At the heart of this story lies the power of embracing a positive attitude. When you anticipate the good things and refuse to become a victim of negative thinking, the motivation to continue naturally emerges, sustained by your sense of renewal, hope and expectations.

Falling Down 10 Times Means You Have to Get Up 10 Times

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Many times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I am not afraid to say that I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

You have to keep “getting up” (as Oprah Winfrey did) to take those next steps toward meeting or exceeding your goals.

The motivation for getting up and getting back on track is more powerful and rewarding if it is for personal rather than material gain. Keep reminding yourself that the most significant accomplishments in world history all started because someone fell down and got right back up again without even giving it a second thought.

The Communication of Change Keys to Meaningful Change

Hand flip wooden cube with word "change" to "chance", Personal development and career growth or change yourself conceptThe oil crises of the 1970s rocked many industry giants, including the transportation industry.

In 1981, British Airways was reeling from massive financial losses and a reputation for terrible service. Nearing meltdown, the airline brought on a new chairperson, Lord King, who quickly spotlighted three areas where the company was operating inefficiently: careless spending, disorganized staffing, and inadequate communication. King’s leadership quickly produced results. After only ten years, the company became the largest airline in the UK, reporting the highest profits in its industry ($284 million, to be exact!).

What was the key to this turnaround?

Large-scale organizational change. King made major structure changes, including a reduced workforce (from 59,000 to 39,000), elimination of unprofitable routes, modernization of the existing fleet, and marketing upgrades to revamp the airline’s image.

Did King make these massive changes by crossing his fingers and wishing for the best? Hardly. British Airlines combined accurate research with a clear strategy that informed their decisions and overcame resistance.

Discontentment: The Shadow Side of Success

One thing King had in his favor was discontentment, which was at an all-time high.

While many of us believe contentment is key to a happy life, sometimes pain (including frustration with “business as usual”), is a gateway to greater fulfillment. Experts find that a shadow side of successful people is this common personality trait: they struggle with perpetual discontentment. Forbes columnist Brianna Weist says this:

“There is a difference between people who are content and people who are successful, and it is because the latter push themselves whereas the former tries to sustain the status quo. Without a certain measure of growth or expansion, the human mind gets bored, or tired. This will, eventually, lead to a tipping point at which the content person becomes discontent… and then change is made.”

Change as a Formula

Pain moves us: to make radical shifts, to take risks we wouldn’t otherwise consider, and to get the full potential out of life.

Dissatisfaction, combined with a skill set and action plan, can be the most essential agent for change. But far-reaching change can be tricky to maneuver, requiring precise timing and a thoughtful strategy.

Organizational change experts David Gleicher and Kathie Dannemiller coached change strategists with a model that looks something like this:

  • If change were a formula, it is this: “D * V * PF > R” (Dissatisfaction * Vision * Preferred Future > Resistance)
  • Dissatisfaction paired with a vision for a preferred future motivates people to overcome resistance to change.
  • To catalyze change, an idea or product must possess a clear path for a breakthrough while fanning the flame of frustration with the current state of being. If the product of those three factors is greater than the existing resistance, change will occur.

What This Means For Your Business

It means you can relax, even when people are unhappy!

Intentionally listen to your employees and customers and consider rising frustration as the first step to positive change. Use the change model to evaluate whether the time is right to communicate early steps towards meaningful shifts. Find healthy networks or professional development opportunities where you can reflect on industry trends, process leadership ideas, and analyze competitors to identify areas of opportunity.

Finally, cut yourself some slack if you feel irritated with your own areas of personal frustration. Great futures can come from great pain, so allow your dissatisfaction to chart a course toward exciting new destinations. You’ve got this!

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

GettyImages-698056614.jpgHave you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?

The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.

Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time — very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?

1. Be Prepared

Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you’re prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won’t be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil’s advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request.

2. Be Adaptable

Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you’re kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”  

You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can’t listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward.

3. Be Confident

You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas — as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world — are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there’s no path forward.

4. Do the Work

Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told “No” more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success.

5. Inspire Others

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it’s a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times.

Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Shouldn’t you give it one more shot?

Don’t Throw in the Towel Down but Not Out

GettyImages-694845400.jpgThey say that the difference between baseball and life is perseverance. No matter how hard you swing in the batter’s box, three strikes always mean you’re out. But in the game of life, strikeouts are only assigned to those who stop trying.

Feel like throwing in the towel today? We all do sometimes. But consider the words of Thomas Edison, who made more than a thousand attempts before finding the right materials to create the incandescent light bulb:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Or find hope in the words of journalist David Brinkley:

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with bricks others have thrown at him.”

The Irrevocable Power of Attitude

While circumstances are often beyond our control, we all have irrevocable power over one crucial area: our attitude. Austrian neurologist and Victor Frankl considered himself living proof. His best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” (or: Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp) chronicled his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, discovering that a fundamental human reality means finding hope in all forms of existence. Even the most brutal. Frankl said this:

“The last of our human freedoms is to choose our attitude in any given circumstances.”

Surviving or Thriving?

How do you move beyond mere survival? Whether it’s stress at home or disappointment at work, how can you equip yourself with a persevering attitude?

Angela Duckworth (professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania) was teaching math when she noticed something intriguing: The most successful students weren’t always the ones who displayed a natural aptitude but those who possessed an overcoming (or “gritty”) spirit. That grit – a combination of passion and perseverance targeting a particular goal – helped Duckworth develop a “grit scale” tool to predict outcomes . . .  like, who would win the National Spelling Bee or who might graduate from West Point. Duckworth found a “gritty” attitude beat the pants off things like your I.Q., SAT scores, or even physical fitness in determining whether individuals might succeed!

Here are a few tips from Duckworth on awakening passion when your willpower is dying:

  1. Discover and deepen your interests. If you feel like quitting, re-examine what really energizes or inspires you. Perhaps a depressed spirit can prompt you to consider a necessary life change.
  2. Commit yourself to a positive attitude. Duckworth says the difference between quitters and overcomers was largely how they processed frustration, disappointment, or boredom. While “quitters” took negative emotional cues as an opportunity to cut and run, gritty people believed that struggle was a chance for growth, not a signal for alarm.
  3. Look forward not backward (especially in the face of failure!). Resilience is the ability of people, communities, or systems to maintain their core purpose, even in the midst of unforeseen shocks or failures. Futurist Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience, Why Things Bounce Back, says grit is the combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence that one can find meaningful purpose while influencing surroundings, outcomes, and individual growth in the process. In other words – even failing doesn’t bring failure! No matter what you face, you can take heart that even setbacks bring progress and that even suffering has meaning.

Of course, the final factor in persevering power is the support of a strong community. That’s why we take pride in a thriving local business economy and we take pleasure in shaking your hand. Let’s continue to grow in grit as we run the race together this year!