How do those people who seem to be super resilient cope with crisis? Why is it that some of us seem capable of enduring incredible challenges and actually emerge even more successful when the dust settles? Do they know a secret that other people don’t? Is it something that they do differently? Thanks to a big boulder that came tumbling into my own life, I now know that it’s often not what you do. More important can be what you don’t do when in the midst of that formidable challenge.
On February 19, 2016, I got “the call”.
My youngest daughter had been on a Yale fellowship in South America building a school. She had gone on a rafting excursion with a group of tourists. When the group had stopped to go swimming in a grotto, a huge boulder had broken off the mountain and crashed down onto my daughter.
Her injuries were so extensive that doctors thought that it would take a miracle for her to survive. I was told to rush down to Colombia. The doctors would try to keep her alive long enough for me to say my goodbyes.
I won’t kid you. Nothing prepared me for that moment. It felt like I was engulfed in the perfect storm of negative emotions.
And yet, I knew that if I stayed lost in that downward spiral, I would be of no value to my daughter.
I had to find a way to tap into my own inner greatness — even if at moments, I wasn’t sure that I had anything that I could call greatness.
In my quest to find something within myself that could help my daughter, I realized that people who achieve things that others believe to be impossible have some things in common. And those similarities aren’t as much the things that they do as they are the things that they choose not to do.
Miraculously, my daughter survived what medical precedent said was “impossible.” I not only became her primary 24/7 caregiver but I launched a second business that allows me to do what I’m passionate about. Something that before the boulder I had thought would be impossible.
Miraculous and impossible things have been a part of human history throughout time. There is no better time to remember our potential for greatness and resilience than the era that we are living through today.
Here are the 18 things that I discovered that those amazing resilient people don’t do that allowed me to set the stage for “impossible things” showing up in our own life.
- Empowered people don’t get lost in the anger and blame game. With mindset, energy is critical and research has shown that our brains make the best decisions when flowing in a more positive mode. If we continue to replay our anger (even if that anger is directed at ourselves), we become less capable of clearly identifying the possible solution. Tangibly, people who define themselves as “happy” or “positive” tend to outsell those who call themselves “unhappy” or “pessimistic” by 20-30%. Getting beyond the anger and blame is critical to repairing all aspects of your life — even the bottom line. Identify any misstep that might have lead you to the current situation and don’t repeat it — but focus on the present. This is where the best solution lies.
- Empowered people don’t resist change. They understand that change is essential to growth. They also embrace that great obstacles can also evolve into the very thing that lead to a great opportunity. Look for the lesson inside of the crisis. What sort of clues to something bigger and better might be hiding in plain sight? Is this an opportunity to be open to something new and (yes) even better?
- Empowered people don’t hide and isolate. This was probably the toughest for me. I had never been in this sort of a mess and I felt like it floored me. I felt overwhelmed, humiliated, terrified. The instinct was to run and hide. That was probably the worst thing that I could have done and yet that instinct is a powerful one. In reality, these moments are exactly the moments when other people can help. Whether it’s a mentor who is genuinely experienced in weathering these storms or a friend who is willing to wrap you in positivity, look yourself squarely in the mirror and remind yourself that your value and greatness is most definitely still there. If your cash flow falls short, do what you can to face the music. Try to work out payment plans or to at least express your intent to pay as soon as possible. You will be amazed at how willing some people are to work with you. I even know people who handled bankruptcy with so much integrity that shortly thereafter people were willing to invest in their next move. Don’t assume that you know how others will react to “bad news”.
- Empowered people don’t forget gratitude. When it feels like your entire world is falling apart, one of the last genuine feelings that most people feel is gratitude. Even if all other aspects of your life are idyllic, when your financial world feels like a house of horrors, your life can feel worse than grim. This is where a bit of “blissipline” (thank you, Mindvalley’s Vishan Lakhiani for that term) can serve you. If you are feeling sorry for yourself and/or angry at your circumstances, have the discipline to just find one thought that feels better. Maybe at first that one thought has nothing to do with your own life. Maybe the best that you can find is that you know that some of the most successful people in the world at one point faced their own perfect storm. They had no more luck or tenacity than you do. There are probably other areas of your life where you have seen evidence of your ability to be strong and persevere. You can see that eventually your perseverance and tenacity have always won out. You can at least be grateful for your perseverance and tenacity. And yes, while you are feeling grateful for those qualities, it becomes easier to acknowledge other aspects of your life that are reason for hope. Many, many successful people journal every morning the 5 items that they are grateful for. Feeling grateful for your life not only feels better but it can tangibly combat the symptoms of stress and set you up for better results both physically, professionally and mentally.
- Empowered people don’t imagine the worst possible outcome and turn the big picture into a small picture. When crisis enters our life, our knee jerk reaction can often be to imagine the worst. When my own crisis hit, initially my mind would create these amazingly terrifying stories that, to be honest, would literally paralyze me if I let them run wild. There is no question that when I worried myself into a “tizzy”, I was my least effective, least productive and undeniably my absolute worst enemy. No matter how bad it seems, remember that this is not the end of the story. A lot of “terrible” things have been the catalyst to making some of the most amazing people into who they are today. Hold onto that expectation that your future will be even bigger because of this moment. You WILL make it through this to see massive success.
- Empowered people don’t forget to maintain positive habits. When things get tough, our positive habits can disappear pretty quickly. A terrified mind can find amazing ways to rationalize eating poorly, drinking excessively, eliminating all exercise, working long hours, ignoring friends/ family, worrying non-stop and an infinite list of counter-productive behaviors. It may take sheer will power to force yourself to do it, but retaining those positive habits can reward you ten-fold. Even taking 25 minutes a day — 10 minutes to exercise, 5 minutes to journal gratitude notes/successes and 10 minutes to focus your thoughts on the intention for the day ahead — can accelerate a break through.
- Empowered people don’t doubt the process and give up if results aren’t immediate. When our businesses suffer a major hit, we can often doubt everything. Rather than toss out your entire system, learn to ask different questions. Make sure that you are clear about your specific goals. Is what you are doing getting you closer to your goal? If you stopped doing what you have been doing, would that get you closer to your goals? Are you busying your time or are you like an artist with your time? Ask questions and look for honest answers — then commit and stay consistent. Don’t bail when you are three feet from your gold.
- Empowered people don’t stop taking calculated risks. The most celebrated human beings have all faced what some would call “failures” and yet articles abound on how these dynamos refused to stay down. Be smart. Learn from things that might have exposed you to this stumble but trust that your own inner brilliance (and the brilliance of those around you) now has more data to apply.
- Empowered entrepreneurs don’t beat them self up in a lot of should haves and self-doubt. There is a saying that in hard times, we have a tendency to “should” all over ourselves. Learning and growth are essential components of every champion’s rise to fame. Make sure that your are writing an empowered version of this chapter in your story. The day may come when you will see that this is the chapter that creates your masterpiece.
- Empowered people don’t forget their Why. On my worst days, when I didn’t even want to get out of bed, sometimes the only things that kept me going were my “whys”. Knowing my “why” helped me keep the immediate challenges in perspective. They kept feeding my hope and my determination. My “why” seemed to link directly to my emotions which was like rocket fuel when everything else seemed to leave my gas tank empty.
- Empowered people don’t think that “I know that already” or that “I have tried that already.” These two sentences seemed to be a mantra for my own pessimistic inner narrative. When I finally acknowledged that I didn’t have a crystal ball and that the answer might truly be right around the corner, I would inevitably see my best progress. Stay open. Stay curious and you will be surprised what new “aha” moments fall into your lap. And one “aha” moment might just be the key to your next moment of delight or even your entrepreneurial empire!
- Empowered people don’t look for a quick fix and distract themselves with shiny objects and busy work. When we hit something big, the tendency is to want it to be over — like NOW. There are a lot of products and “done for you” systems that promise to instantly fix your pain points and soothe the problem “that keeps you awake at night.” I found that I definitely needed to be open to learn, but I could also waste a lot of time and money hoping just to get past the pain. I would try to take action as quickly as possible and to stay busy — hoping that just being busy would translate into income. In truth, when I took time to focus and to take truly inspired action, I saw more progress. I also slowly began to rebuild that all-important trust in myself.
- Empowered people don’t surround themselves with negative people or non-stop streams of negative “news”. This can be a challenge because often those who are the closest can inadvertently cut the deepest. I found that people did genuinely intend to help but often their advice felt more confusing and disempowering than helpful. When we are in these challenging times, others who can truly empathize might be the better option. Mentors, masterminds and in some cases coaches can truly provide invaluable insights and systems. Fellow entrepreneurs who were positively supportive helped me stay the course. Build your network of positive people (even on social media) and remember to champion each other through the stormy waters.
- Empowered people don’t obsess over things beyond their control. We can focus on the things that we hope to have more of — or we can focus on the elements in our life that we still believe that we lack. Again, our mindsets run on our energy and when we waste valuable time/energy on things that we cannot control, we are choosing not to fully live.
- Empowered people don’t try to do it all by themselves. There is a reason why there are billions of us on this tiny planet and yet no two of us are exactly alike. Sometimes we try to do it all. We keep trying to do more and more, often because at some level we believe that we are not enough. Trust me, you ARE enough. And when you finally relax into genuinely allowing others into your world, you may just see how “all that” that you truly are.
- Empowered people don’t forget to ask. One of the biggest moments through my own storm was when I realized that I could simply ask. I had to put aside my pride, my ego, my worst enemy’s conviction that I “knew” what the answer would be. I had to brave being will to ask. And guess what? As it turns out — shock — my worst fears couldn’t have been more wrong. There was an entire world out there of people who were happy to help, happy to work with me and (who knew) who even thought very highly of me — in spite of this storm. Give yourself credit and give life a chance to surprise and delight you. Most likely, it will.
- Empowered people don’t resent the success of others. During these times, it can be tempting to focus on your competitors or on others who don’t seem to have it quite so hard. Take a breath. Play your own game and if you focus on keeping your own inner game deliberately positive, that’s when you stand not only to win, but to win big. A scarcity perspective keeps you small. The good stuff resides where the win/win thrives.
- Empowered people don’t forget to expect eventual success. If there was one sliver of mindset magic that probably helped me the most, it was refusing to believe that this storm meant game over. Using every ounce of mindset knowledge that I had learned over the course of almost 4 decades, I held fast to the expectation of eventual success. I returned to following my mindset systems. I began to see and feel the difference. The more that I treated these systems as laws, the more powerfully I began to see the relief. Yes, finally, the glimmer of hope turned into proof that I could call tangible. And the lesson in resilience would become invaluable in every other aspect of my life in days to come.
As you launch into the days, weeks or months ahead, dare to dream big. And as this challenge forces you to adapt to a new temporary normal, take a moment to breathe. And remember: my own rise from the ashes came not from the things that I did but more importantly from the things that I ultimately chose NOT to do.