I’ve said before that optimism can be your secret weapon. It’s definitely a secret weapon for me. When trying out for the all-star team in little league baseball, I thought I had as good a shot as anyone. When I applied to graduate school, I knew I would have to convince them to take a risk, but why wouldn’t they? When applying for a highly competitive new job, surely I’d have a shot. Some may have doubted, thought I wouldn’t come out on top in these situations. But I did.
A dear friend of ours is battling cancer, as many seem to be these days. She made it through a particularly rough round of treatment with more to endure in the months ahead. She felt relieved but run down and the outlook of more treatment was less than appealing. She didn’t see much to celebrate.
While we continue to support her, I found myself wanting to stir a celebration. Celebrate the progress she’s made, the manner in which she faces the battle and mark the challenges that are now behind her. As I thought more about her situation, I discovered there is strength in celebration that we can all benefit from.
I have a confession to make: sometimes I don’t feel like doing the things that need to get done. Maybe I’m alone in this, but my hunch is that some of you fight the same battles I do.
Most often when this happens to me, I feel drained, like my energy is waning. This is one reason we see a lot of energy boosting substances out there (5-hour Energy, Monster, Cliff Energy Bloks, etc.). I’m not opposed to some of these; however, I don’t want to depend on them to meet life’s demands. The truth is that some of us struggle to find the energy we need to do what needs doing.
Why is it that the benefits of practice and preparation can evade us when it’s time to make the big play, close the deal or deliver the speech? Our muscles tighten, our tongues tie themselves in knots and we’re as awkward as a giraffe in puberty. Fear raises its nasty head, doubts creep in and all we can picture are the things that can go wrong. Has this ever happened to you?
Why is that some people strive to reach their potentials and others don’t? Why do some of us seek out challenges and others shy away? Why do some of us accept feedback more readily than others? Why are some people primarily motivated by recognition and others by learning? All of this, and much more, can be tied to our mindsets.
Are you getting enough sleep? How long have you been getting less than your optimal amount of sleep and blaming it on being busy? Do you think your performance isn’t effected by your lack of sleep?
On the whole, people in the America today don’t get enough sleep. Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Making a Good Brain Great, notes the hours for an average night’s sleep have plummeted. At the turn of the 20th century, Americans got 9 hours of sleep, on average. In 1975, they averaged 7 and a half. By 2008, an average night’s sleep plunged to 6 hours!
Why aren’t more people optimistic? Optimism may be the ticket to being happier, healthier and more successful. Who doesn’t want that?
Honestly, optimism often gets a bad rap. Many people see optimism as looking at the glass half full or seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. That’s not necessarily the case.
What separates the most successful people from those who are simply good at what they do? It’s not talent. It’s not even skill or ability. The true mark of great performers is that they consistently learn from and build on successes. Anyone, whether you lead meetings, serve customers, cook dinner or coach rec. league soccer, can learn to do the same. Doing so leads to consistently better performance. Who doesn’t want that?
“When achievers fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic,” stated John Maxwell in his book, Failing Forward. This is a mindset we desperately need in our culture today, whereas we see failure as akin to some kind of plague. Parents go to great lengths to protect their children from failure. Our education system forces teachers to do everything except lie to protect students from failing a class.
We easily forget the failures of many famous names: Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs. These achievers didn’t let their failures define them and went on to great success. Are we dealing with failure all wrong? How can we capitalize on our failures to spur future success?