Do you know anyone who is pounding the pavement looking for a new job? Maybe you know someone who has tried to quit smoking or you have a neighbor who is training for the marathon. How about someone who has received strict doctor’s orders to eat healthier and lose weight?
Over the course of our lifetime, we’ll all face situations that test our will, defy our determination, and challenge our character. Remember, even if life were a bed of roses, you’d still need to avoid the thorns.
Yet, even though our personal limits may be challenged, defeat should never be accepted as an option. Of course, that’s easier said than done –– we’re all human. Often it’s so much easier to cheat “just this one time” or to give up entirely. Who will know? Answer: You will.
The fact still remains that the difference between a winner and an also-ran isn’t always that the loser fell on hard times. Rather, the difference often lies in how the adversity was faced. While some people stare tough times right in the eye, others are quick to surrender to a challenge. Which one are you?
Are You Ready to Meet the Challenge?
Why are some people so quick to throw in the towel?
Afraid to lose. Some people give up before they even start. Their rationale is “Why make the effort when the odds of winning are stacked against me anyway?”
Lack of reality. Some folks are like a “deer in headlights.” When they’re faced with a challenge, they’re surprised, overwhelmed, and ill prepared to rise to the occasion.
Lack of confidence. Some people have a tendency to reach out for help as soon as they’re faced with a challenge. The problem is, the more reliant you are on others, the less reliant you are on yourself.
Fear of accountability. Some folks leave their future to fate. They reason, “If there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome, why even try?” Sounds like a recipe for failure. Here, the poet Nikki Giovanni offers some inspirational advice: “I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.” Well, be prepared to give each new challenge your best shot to avoid regret.
Lack of will. Some people don’t have the stomach to face adversity. They’ve given up so many times in life that they accept defeat without making an effort. That’s when you look to a well-known song by the Rolling Stones, who point out, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.” Rock on!
Believe in Yourself
Are you up to the test? Although it isn’t the first time you’ve faced a challenge like this, your body reacts the same way as before. It’s like a physical and emotional tidal wave that slams into you. Your palms get sweaty, your heart starts pounding, your blood pressure starts rushing, and an adrenaline rush kicks in. “Come on,” you say to yourself, “I’ve experienced this before.” The million-dollar question is, are you going to face the test or throw in the towel?
Face the test? Good . . . but are you really committed? I’m sure you see people every day who promise to go on a diet, eat healthier, exercise several days a week, or quit smoking. The problem is that they break their promise before they even finish their sentence. What about you? “This time it will be different,” you say.
Come on, who are you kidding? We’ve been down this road before. You’ve never kept a New Year’s resolution for more than two weeks. Why even go through the hassle, knowing that you’re probably going to break your word (again)?
Okay. If you’re really serious this time, promise yourself that you won’t quit. Nomatterwhat.
Don’t let others tell you that you can’t. What do they know? Don’t succumb to the broad-based statistics. So you need a job? It doesn’t matter what the national employment statistics say –– you only need one job. Don’t use other people as a crutch. Believe in yourself. You can do it. And please don’t think your challenge is going to be easy. It won’t be. If you set realistic expectations and follow a systematic process from the start, you can do it. You can win out over challenges that you face. Here’s how:
First, try to break BIG challenges into bite-size pieces. They won’t seem as overwhelming and you can focus your energies rather than getting spread too thin.
Then, rather than setting a long-term goal for yourself, create ambitious yet achievable, short-term milestones –– quick short-term wins will keep you motivated. Make sure you celebrate every win. Don’t spend your time complaining, worrying, or finding excuses. All that amounts to is wasted energy.
And stop focusing on whether you’ve hit your goal. Instead, focus and measure all the positive activity and energy that you’re generating. The fact is, if you’re moving in the right direction, you’re one step closer to your goal.
Now is the hard part. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Create a mental image of yourself achieving your goal. Remember, when the voice whispers, “It’s time to give up,” don’t give in. When the voice whispers, “Go ahead, just one more cigarette,” or “It’s only one piece of pie,” whisper back, “Not this time!”
Every great performer, every athlete, every inventor, every entrepreneur — all share one thing in common: They achieved greatness because they had the confidence, skill, inner strength, and determination to make things happen. Something inside them said, “I’m not a quitter.”
Go for It!
So reach deep down into your soul and give it all you’ve got. There are times when you’ll reach your limit. Everything inside you will be telling you to stop and quit. It’s okay to take a rest. In fact, it’s a good idea to stop occasionally to reflect on and celebrate your progress, check out your new insights, and catch your breath.
Some people run into a wall and figure out a way to get around it. Other people brush themselves off and run into the wall again. What can you do better? What can you do differently to increase your likelihood of success?
You will be tested, but DON’T quit. Many people throw in the towel when they’re on the one-yard line, not knowing how close they are to the goal line. That’s the real moment of truth. Give it that small extra effort that will put you over your own goal line!
While determination builds character, quitting is habit forming. When quitting becomes routine, you won’t even think twice about giving up next time. On the other hand, when you overcome even an insignificant challenge, you’ll gain the strength and motivation to confront your next challenge with confidence.
Isn’t it about time that you believed in yourself? Prove to others and yourself that you have what it takes to succeed. You have the confidence, skill, inner strength, and determination to take on the world. So get ready for your next challenge. It’ll be a whole lot easier this time. You’re about to make winning a habit.
The Power of a Positive Attitude
The Winner’s Edge
Make It A Habit
Seeing the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses
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Tracy Bonzo says
Great post and just what I needed! Confidence has always been an issue for me, but until recently I never had anyone solid to rely on either. I’m getting better though, but this was a great reminder.
Leyane Jerejian says
Fantastic post Frank! I love this quote: “I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.” Nikki Giovanni
Too often it is the fear of failure or imperfection that keep people from even trying.
Theresa Delgado says
Great motivation to end the year with a bang!
Thanks – Theresa 🙂
Shawn Murphy says
Two key points in this for me: (1) the choice is always ours to quit, to get back up, and (2) how we get back up matters.
Of course, the challenge with both these key points is there needs to be a willingness to investigate and challenge a well worn thought pattern of giving up. Breaking can start with “What if…”
Frank Sonnenberg says
Tracy, Leyane, Theresa, Shawn
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Tracy, I’m so glad to hear that you’re making progress everyday. As the Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Leyane, the quote was suggested by my friend Ed Berryman. I like it too.
Theresa, I’ve always enjoyed reading motivational books and articles. I’m glad you like them too.
Shawn, your comment really resonates with me. People often blame external factors for giving up, when it’s our choice whether or not to quit.
Have a great day!
Every time I read one of your blogs I want to say, “This is truly your best one Frank” but I MUST say this time that this is, without a doubt, the best one so far. This resonated with me in countless ways: faults I see in myself, struggles that I see close friends and family going through, etc. And your insight into why we give up is articulated so well, and followed up with some much inspiration that it makes one wonder how they could ever THINK of giving up in the first place. Thank you so much for this.
Sarah @RaisingCEOKids says
Absolutely! Making winning a habit is so crucial for our success as well as the success of our children!
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach says
Great post Frank.
Fear of accountability and lack of will struck a chord. I do so much work with large orgs. going through change where I see the lack of will. Perhaps being a part of a large org. gives them a sense of helplessness over the bigger picture.
I will share this post with many. Well done!
Ken Jackson says
What a great way to start the day. This reminds me of a quote from Tori Murden McClure. She is the first woman to row across the Atlantic solo. I have it posted in my office at work on the wall. It goes, “At the end of life, I want to be able to look back and know that I asked enough of myself.” She failed in her first attempt to make the passage, but a second attempt was successful.
Many thanks for sharing. Always a pleasure to read your posts.
So true Frank! So many things we do every single day are habit-forming behaviors that fly right under our own radar. We choose to sleep in vs. get up to charge the day head-on, we choose dessert over a piece of fruit, we choose coffee or soda over a glass of water. We put off laundry, our taxes, cleaning, working out, stretching and flossing. In very covert and extremely overt ways – we choose to quit on ourselves every day. All of the little towel-throws formulate a mentality that it’s OK to slack off, to quit or to not even make an attempt. Soon it becomes no surprise that we start to accept quitting as more than just a viable option but also the path of least resistance, at least for the short term.
But let me get this one thing straight: I used to like to think of myself as ‘unlucky’ and therefore I never played the lottery or liked gambling. Is it quitting to not even give it a go?
Just kidding of course …sometimes it’s equally important to know when to not start a bad habit as it is to know when to quit one.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Rossana, Sara, kate, Ken, Marc
Thanks so much for dropping by and adding your thoughts.
Rossana, I’m so glad that this post resonated with you. We’re all going through some tough times. If this post helps one person it was well worth the effort. (Thank you for your kind words)
Sarah, I know you do a lot of work with kids. The never give up attitude can be reinforced on the ball field.
Kate, you make a very good point. Some people give up if they don’t feel they can make a difference. (The challenge in a large org. is to make everyone feel special)
Ken, excellent point. The worst mistake is to give up.
Marc, your comments provide a ton of food for thought. I especially like your line, “we choose to quit on ourselves every day.” That’s so true.
Have a wonderful day!
Bob Miglani says
Good post. In particular, I appreciate your insight on the fact that I know me…and believing in yourself can go a long way. Good stuff.
Also – I paid homage to you on my blog with a piece of advice you gave me when I graduated college about 20 years ago. I surprised myself by remembering it…hope you recall it. See it here: http://www.embracethechaos.com/2011/11/adjusting-expectations-in-the-chaotic-job-market/.
great writing Frank!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thanks for your thoughts and for remembering what I said twenty years ago. I have a hard enough time remembering what I said this morning 🙂
Have a wonderful day!
Felix Nater says
Fantastic Frank! I loved Believe in yourself and Go for it. You have a knack for telling it like it is. Your post affirm my attitude about success and achievement, it’s there for the taking. When is your next post coming out?
Daniel Oliech says
I appreciate the insights and practicality of the advice that you share. It is really inspiring and challenging.
i run into so many people that could do great things, but they have become complacent in their mediocrity. I have long stopped trying to push them along, if people don’t want to change, they never will. As for me, dream big and go for it!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Great Point, Scott
As Andrew Carnegie said, You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.”
Have an awesome day!
Lucy DelSarto says
Keep On Going … If you haven’t read the book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” (paperback from the 80’s or 90’s), it’s a good quick read. Face fear straight on and be empowered! Confidence comes from doing. Thanks Frank!
Frank Sonnenberg says
True words from a world-class athlete and coach 🙂
I haven’t read the book. I’ll definitely check it out.Thanks for sharing, Lucy.