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Times are tough; there is no doubt about it. Just as we thought we were “done” with years of stress from the pandemic, we are faced with daily worsening news about inflation, the war in Ukraine, climate change and an imminent predicted recession. However, it is possible to take these things seriously, make appropriate life adjustments, ignore the negative energy they can bring and keep our hope.
How can we do that? From my experience, here is how people have not only survived extreme stress and disruption, but thrived because of it. We can all foster these characteristics in our friends and family, celebrate them in our colleagues and, most importantly, emulate them.
1. A higher purpose or cause
John D. Rockefeller once said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.” Wise words, especially when interpreted: money and success will follow you in life if your goals are noble, kind, admirable and directed towards the greater good. Your purpose will keep you moving forward in the right direction even in the face of severe disruption, help clarify the way forward during important decisions and allow you to feel successful even when dealing with failure.
If your life’s journey is closely aligned with your purpose, you’ll see setbacks as learning and growth opportunities and evolve to be something better because of them. Celebrities that openly live to their higher purpose include Gary Sinise, who used his resources and foundation to “…serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need”. Another example is John Cena, who recently broke the record for granting Make-A-Wish wishes. Surely such causes brighten their days, bring them joy, make a lasting positive impact on society and have a longer-lasting and far more deeply felt impact than their movies.
2. Regimented, daily positive habits
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This humorous, commonly quoted phrase is explored in detail in “The Power of Habit,” a great book by Charles Duhigg. Great habits established and adhered to daily can lead to substantial changes over time, no matter your goals.
With your purpose as your compass, writing down your goals and breaking them down into achievable daily tasks will lead you to your goals. Shining examples include Mike Tyson, who has famously gotten back into shape in his fifties, and Rudy Bundini, another former heavy-weight boxer and influencer who became a successful model and actor after a career-ending shoulder injury. These world-class athletes fell out of shape only to soar back due to daily habits, enabling career pivots and further success.
3. A resilient, optimistic outlook
Level-setting in your mind at the start of each day — and as often as needed — is vital. Using some form of protected thought or meditation, peace, and quiet will improve your mood and set you up for success with your thoughts, actions and, most importantly, interactions. How you show up to each day, focusing on the positive, learning from but de-emphasizing the negative and accepting setbacks as the normal course will elevate your day, help keep you focused on your purpose and routine and uplift everyone around you.
Ever notice how contagious a genuine smile, a kind word, or a selfless gesture can be? Why not go for it every day? Oprah has actively demonstrated such an approach and has overcome tremendous obstacles to be a stellar success. Such a positive attitude will create resilience and internal balance, as they inevitably do when things go wrong.
Related: 10 Optimistic and Inspiring Quotes
4. A balance of flexibility and perseverance
Regarding balance, successfully navigating material disruption often requires a significant pivot in behavior, living circumstances or roles, during which flexibility will only keep you focused when your goals need to change. At the same time, recognizing that preserving, having patience and sometimes waiting for circumstances to resolve themselves and staying the course is the best course of action.
Again, a higher purpose and a positive outlook will provide important insights when the choice needs to be made, whether you make that choice on your own or with the help of others. Knowing when to persevere and pivot is critical to model in the coming world because mastering both will accelerate success. Steve Stanulis, the former bodyguard for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, became a successful actor, director and producer after learning about the industry through his connections. Being flexible in exploring something new and persistent enough to master it will get you through unplanned changes.
5. Intertwined confidence and humility
Finally, an approach to life that combines genuine humbleness and a hunger to learn more from life’s lessons, others and any source available, coupled with confidence in yourself, will create pathways forward when there are initially none to be found. Practicing these two paradoxically related characteristics daily will help you walk, talk and speak confidently.
More importantly, they will show you when to listen intently, learn, and make changes based on the other person’s knowledge or perspective. These qualities used together will take you far. Active listening is a priceless skill — people will listen even more intently to what you have to say when you are first focused on what they are trying to convey.
These, coupled with integrity, accelerate “The Speed of Trust,” a concept coined by Stephen M.R. Covey in his book of the same name. Accelerated trust by those you are helping with your life directly correlates to speeding up your success, especially when it comes to career pivots which are often necessary to deal with disruption. All these characteristics work in concert to face every day ready for and expecting challenges, aligned and guided by your purpose, and determined to succeed, one step at a time.