We are driving on Transcanada Hwy just past Swift Current, Saskatchewan heading home to Winnipeg. Every driver is supposed to drive at 110 km per hour on this highway. I am driving at 114 km/hr, just 4 km above the limit, not too bad. In front of us to the right is a line of truck, my assumption is that they too are driving at 114 km/hr because it is taking too long to pass them. We stay on the left side. As I attempt to pass the 6 trucks on the right lane, I see a sports car veer just behind us. They must be driving at around 130 km/hr. As we pass the first truck, I see car behind tailgating us, kind of putting pressure on me to speed up, coming just a few meters close to us. We accelerate to 119, he comes even closer.
I can not go faster than that to impress him…but he keeps on coming even closer. I choose not to yield to the pressure. These guy behind me is in a black BMW. I see him checking his phone, then making angry faces at me and getting closer and closer. I am feel threatened by his tailgating, I know that his car is too closer to us than it is safe, a bad accident could easily happen should I have a sudden need for to slow or stop for unforeseen circumstances ahead of me. I speed up alittle bit, thinking it might calm him down but it did not. We continue like that for the next ten kilometers until we finally passed all the trucks. Finally he zooms past us at a speed of lightening.
“I hope he does not get a ticket.”
I don’t how others feel when I was telling you this story; I have to be honest with you that when I first saw the car behind me I started to feel under pressure to speed past the trucks to give him a right of way. But as I thought through it I decided not to speed any faster, I knew that speeding was only one part of the solution of yielding to the driver’s behavior, I also knew I could show some anger or probably swear at him but that is not me….I wanted to handle the situation differently, I wanted to stay calm and allow him to pass as soon as I had a chance. I had to choose to keep my testosterone in check and I knew that deep in me I had that power of saying no to the tempting spirit.
We all experience pressures in our lives. We feel pressured to perform, to conform and please others. We experience financial pressures, social pressures, career and professional pressures – pressures in relationships, (marriages, partnerships, parenting, etc.). We want to pin the blame for pressure. In this situations we feel that we need to take our power back from these external forces. And, this accurate – when we are experiencing pressure, it’s a signal that we have an opportunity to call our energy and power back to ourselves. We just get confused on how to do that.
The dictionary defines pressure as stress, a constant state of worry and urgency. It’s a force that pushes or urges, (emphasis on force). To pressure is to compel, or make someone do something. Some pressures are healthy, and even necessary. The adrenaline rush we feel at the start of a new project, or when we have a deadline approaching, helps motivate us. But when we try to do too much, all the time, stress becomes the enemy – quite literally. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, raises the body’s metabolic rate in readiness for a ‘fight or flight’ response. It increases heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. It affects background body functions too, like digestion, cell division and even our reproductive processes — putting them on hold until calm returns.
Being on constant alert and able to react to an imminent, life-threatening emergency is great when you need it, but living constantly in that state is detrimental. Stress affects our ability to think clearly and remember things; it has been shown to increase the likelihood of depression and can exacerbate health risks like stroke and heart disease. It also impacts our immune systems, which scientists now fear can impair our ability to fight cancer. Thus, unrealistic worries are over-reactions to a tolerable situation or a prolonged over-reaction to a threatening situation that can not be avoided. But how can you be sure a situation won’t cause trouble? You can’t. How can you be sure you won’t handle the problem any better if you worried about it a lot more? You can’t be. However, we can learn to recognize extreme over-reactions, e.g. being terrified while flying or obsessing for hours about an insoluble problem. But a little worry about crashing while flying is realistic and some thought is necessary to know that you can’t do much about a problem. So, how much time should you devote to a particular problem? There isn’t an exact answer; that’s why some of us let anxiety overwhelm us.
Many a times, we all find ourselves under pressure similar to my tailgate experience, we feel pressure, spoken and unspoken, to do everything and be everything, pressure to provide for your family, to be available to everyone, to meet company targets, to attend every meeting, to keep engaged, to have meaningful and well-maintained relationships. And as we well know, as we grow up we are taught by the people or our environments that we should suck up when we are pressure. We start on a journey that I call survival journey, you start to say, “I just want to get through today.” or, “Just one more party and it’s over.” We start to walk through sad places where we quit to enjoying the season s, the presence, others and starts trying to get through it instead. Beyond stressing about your general workload, if you dwell on the related risks and get wrapped up in thoughts of what could go wrong, you generate patterns of fear that start to seem normal. You get so used to being afraid that you actually start to accept it as a sign that you’re working hard: “Oh, I’ve got to give a big presentation, so I’ve got to be nervous.” That sort of thing.
Over the years I have learnt a thing or two about working under pressure. I have learnt that when one acts or live under intense pressure one start to create survival environments for themselves. I have seen people who live in survival journey making impulsive judgments, angrily rushing to bring closure to whatever matter is at hand. He or she feeling is compelled to get the problem under control immediately, to extinguish the perceived danger lest it destroy him or her. When one lives in survival journey they are robbed of their flexibility, their sense of humor, their ability to deal with the unknown. They forget the big picture and the goals and values they stand for. They lose their “cool” or feeling at peace, they lose their creativity.
I can’t help but think we’re a lot like that when life presses down on us. When the pressure gets too intense, we start looking for ways to bail ourselves out from under the thumb of circumstances that seem too much to handle. And all too often we are tempted to bail in terms of our attitudes, feeling angry, bitter, or even mad at God—or anyone else we can blame our problems on. Or, we are tempted to bail in our actions by refusing to persevere in righteous ways.
Apparently, gaining a sense of mastery or learning one is able to handle problems early in life, e.g. in monkeys who get good mothering and social support when young, seems to protect the adult from serious anxiety. Although fears are generally based on primitive automatic emotional reactions, more intense panic and specific fears occur when we feel particularly vulnerable–open to being seriously hurt. Some of this vulnerability may be genetic tendencies but much is probably learned, often at an early age. How are these dangers, these “Wow, that scares the hell out of me!” reactions, learned? Sometimes, we see the actual results of a real danger–a heart attack, an auto accident, someone going crazy–and we vividly imagine that might happen to us. Examples: Panic attacks often are exacerbated by the scary thoughts that the tightness in my chest and high anxiety means I’m dying from a heart attack, going to faint, going crazy, etc. Such thoughts greatly increase the panic.
Sometimes, we are given specific instructions by others to expect danger, e.g. some social phobics have been told that interacting with others can be disastrous–“they will think you are stupid or weird,” “you can’t trust them,” “you’ll make a fool of yourself,” etc. Sometimes, we have started to think in a certain way (the source may be totally unknown–a TV, movie, book, or just our own fantasy as a child) that implies some situation is dangerous. Examples of this might be: “Oh, what I just said sounded really selfish… dumb… critical… ” which grows into “I’m going to mess up when I talk to them,” “I’m not good at socializing,” “I can’t think of anything to say,” or “I get really uptight and start to sweat when I try to talk to someone.” We can create, in effect, our own dangers, and may be especially prone to do that if we are given certain genes and childhood experiences.
Norman Vincent Peale tells how a young business man asked him to talk with his father, the head of their business. He said. “I’m very worried about Dad. He is so nervous and tense. There are so many pressures and problems in the business and my Dad is giving way under them.” Dr Peale encouraged him to relax and talk over his problem of pressure in the business. After a time, Dr Peale said to him, “I don’t suppose you ever read the Scriptures do you?”
“Certainly I do” the man replied. Dr Peale said, “You read them but you don’t practice them.”
“Of course I practice them, I’m a moral man.”
“I wasn’t talking morals and ethics, I was talking about the healing power of God. Have you ever read the 26th chapter of Isaiah, 3rd verse – ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you’?” Peale then went on to explain that the father had not been keeping his mind on God, he’d let it dwell too much on his problems. He urged him to repeat the text three times a day to get it fixed in his mind and heart. Faith in God, more than anything else, helps us to keep things in perspective and cuts our pressures down to size
It boils down to whether or not we want comfort or character. You or I may think that life should be a bed of roses, but if that’s your take on life, you’re in for a big surprise—trouble happens! The issue is not if you will face trials, it’s how you will respond to the inevitable pressure that the problems of life bring. It may be that you face pressure at work. In the face of a seemingly insurmountable project, it’s easy to think, “If I just fudge a little bit I could get this job done faster.” Or, when the problems at home won’t go away, we find ourselves wondering, “Maybe I’ll just leave so I won’t have to deal with this anymore.” The sin of pride causes us to respond to problems with thoughts like, “I don’t deserve this.” And soon our attitudes are in the dumper and God’s work is derailed.
Are you feeling stuck in life? Many people do. Sometimes it feels as if we simply cannot move on with life. As if there was something that keeping us from pursuing our dreams and hopes. AND THERE WE ARE, Stuck! We feel limited and simply do not know what to do. We have no idea how to break free from the limitations that are imposed upon us. What is worse, we do not even know what it is that is imposed on us and who imposes these limitations on us. It’s quite scary to be confronted with an invisible obstacle you cannot seem to tackle. Even though the situation may seem hopeless, there’s much you can do about it. In fact, there are a variety of highly efficient tactics and powerful tricks you can use to free yourself from being stuck in a rut.
To illustrate how painful being stuck can be, I want to draw from the analogy of the movie, the Groundhog Day. If you have not seen the film Groundhog Day, please do so immediately—it is hilariously entertaining, touching, and has thousands of implicit lessons for improving one’s life, community, and the world. Some of you may know I wrote my dissertation on the 1993 romantic fantasy starring Bill Murray, directed by the late Harold Ramis.
Groundhog Day is about an arrogant TV weather man (Bill Murray) who finds himself stuck in a time loop where he keeps repeating the same day over and over. The worse part? He’s the only one who remembers the past day’s events — no one else seems to remember anything! At first he uses this time loop for personal gain. After a while though, he starts to evaluate his life and priorities.
In the movie, the main character, Phil Connors is trapped in a recurring day — a freezing February day in Punxsutawney. The town never changes; the events and the people never change. Only Phil can change.
It is impossible for Phil to have any control over the external world. Every morning he wakes up and it’s the same day again. He is compelled to find how best to survive and prosper, and decide if this is a curse or maybe a blessing. This is a nightmare everyone fears: to be trapped in a repeat mode forever. Boredom crushes creativity and saps motivation at work and at home. The good news, there is an antidote to boredom. It is about tapping into the power of purpose. The fun part is that there are 5 lessons to be learned from the movie.
So what you can you and I do to get unstuck? As we have already established, you won’t be able to break free by digging deeper. What is necessary is to find another approach that helps us to address the underlying issue.
Here a some lessons for us
Don’t give up.
Again, Groundhog Day as life metaphor: Most of us have at some point been trapped in a situation where no matter what we did, we couldn’t extricate ourselves from some endless cycle of lameness. In the film, Phil’s attempts to bypass the situation altogether by offing himself don’t pan out; they don’t solve anything. The lesson is clear: Giving up doesn’t solve the problem.
Look at the big picture
This is about meeting yourself where you are. What are the current issues? Where do you want to be? And what is the in between? Remember, “The way out, is through.”
Take the wheel.
Stop being a passenger in your own life. Take responsibility for your well-being and break the cycle of blame. Where you are today is solely the result of your choices and actions. Where you will be tomorrow is a result of things you do or don’t do today. Your circumstances and your results are your responsibility. Yes, many external factors are beyond your control, but you can change how you feel about them.
Do your best, live in the moment.
Your best may be different at different times, and at different tasks and in different situations, but it begins with being in the presence, being in the moment you will always know when you are doing it. “Presence” is not about attracting attention to oneself, as some seem to think, but about being present and PAYING attention.
Express, Don’t Repress
As you work your way through your rut, don’t suppress your emotions. Instead, experience them fully. Going back to our example of a job loss, perhaps you’re very sad that you lost your job. Maybe you loved that job and wanted to stay with the company for the rest of your working career. Rather than be depressed for weeks or even months, express the emotion you’re feeling. If you feel you need to cry or yell out in rage, then do so. After you’ve let the emotion out, let it be. Don’t dwell on it forever. Experience the emotion and then move on. Remember, each event we experience in our life is a learning opportunity. Find the lesson that’s hidden in your current situation so you can move on.
We are All in a Prison of Our Own Making
Everyone is living out their own Groundhog Day as we speak. You’re bumping into the same problems, the same issues, the same challenges in most of the situations you’re in, because, duh, you’re you, and this is your heavy, heavy synthetic bag. You could even argue that this is The Point of why you’re here.
Help Others In Need
The first time that Phil passes the old homeless man on the street in Punxsutawney, he pats his pockets pretending not to have any money. But over the course of the movie, Phil becomes more and more empathetic to the old man’s tragic situation. Phil buys him meals on numerous occasions, and tries to save the guy’s life when he’s stuck out in the cold. Phil also repeatedly catches a kid who falls out of a tree, helps some women with a flat tire, and performs the Heimlich maneuver on a restaurant goer. As his actions show, helping others doesn’t just only make them feel good — it can make you feel great, too.
Do one thing at a time
Anxiety and overwhelm kick in when there’s a lot going on.
But even when you have a lot to do, it’s impossible to do everything at once. The most effective way to make progress towards any goal is by doing one thing at a time.
Make a list of what’s most important for you to do. Do one thing first. Then, move on to the next. Keep repeating until your day is through. When you get distracted, come back to the one thing you’re focusing on.
Give thanks to whatever or whoever you give thanks to, but acknowledge your own role in your success.
Live in Beauty
The French believe each day should be lived in beauty. No, that doesn’t give free rein to having a closet, cleaning the garage or basement. I do love a nice pair of shoes. It expresses that life is beautiful…hardships and all. Notice the single flower reaching for the sunshine through the snow, or the dog out for a walk, wagging his tail and carrying a favorite ball. That is beauty. It’s also a moment of perfect clarity.
Master Joyful Skills
If you are bored at work or home, put yourself on the path to master joyful skills. This can happen regardless of your time, financial resources or the level of teaching talent available in your community.You will see that even if you are working in a rough neighborhood, with a terrible work schedule and a low wage job, you can cultivate a sense of purpose.
In the movie, Bill Murray brushes up on his piano lessons with a local teacher and eventually rocks out to a full house. He worked with what was available and poured passion and purpose into it. He mastered a joyful skill.
Being stuck in a rut is no fun, but as I always say ‘nothing last forever’! Everything has its season, and I strongly believe that when one door closes another opens. Just as the universe appears to work against us sometimes, it also works for us a lot of the time. Remember that the universe seeks balance, so things will eventually level out, no matter how bad the outlook may be. The more positivism you can foster during this time, the better your chances of getting out of that rut feeling better than ever. You’ll be able to pour that new motivation and energy into your goals, and work that much harder (and focused) on your success. The idea is not to avoid these issues, because sometimes it is not possible, but to be aware of what they mean and know how to turn them into opportunities for new opportunities and personal reinvention .
Have you heard of “hygge” yet? It seems like every time I turn around, I see another book or an article about it! My innate curiosity lead me to doing some research about this Danish buzzword and what it really means. I ended up finding the concept of hygge so fascinating that I decided I would share it with you all today! Here’s the thing: The Danes are among the happiest on earth. Sure, this has to do with the many benefits of living in Denmark (lengthy parental leave and vacation, free health care and education, etc.), but it also has to do with a way of being. While many who are intrigued by the Danish tradition consider hygge to be about candles, blankets, soft lighting, and good books, in the end, it’s really about being fully present: to place, to self, and to those you share life with
First of all, hygge is pronounced as hue-ga. And it turns out that hygge is a Danish word and idea that has absolutely everything to do with creating a haven.
For the Danes, hygge is both a noun and verb. “To hygge is to build sanctuary,” writes Louisa Thomsen Brits in The Book of Hygge. “Hygge exists in moments of contentment.”
So, you can actively hygge to find and experience hygge. Or, in other words, you create a haven to find and experience a haven.
To the Danes, hygge is less about a particular aesthetic and more about feelings of belonging, conviviality, and contentment, so essential for the soul. In that sense, hygge could almost be considered a spiritual practice: a stance and attunement that helps you return to your true self and pay closer attention to the many blessings and Sacred stirrings that surround you.
Right now, hygge sells. Retailers around the world are using it in their cleverly-concocted marketing campaigns to sell us an alternative offer of comfort, and one that can never satisfy us at the deepest levels. No amount of fluffy socks and mugs of mulled wine by the fire can. In fact, there is no secret to achieving happiness and calm.
As Meik Wiking points out in his book The Little Book of Hygge, “Hygge is about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and can be achieved on a shoestring budget.” In fact, the more money and prestige associated with an activity, the less hygge is.
Hygge is a Danish word for “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Sounds pretty great, right? Hygge can enter every aspect of your life, from taking the time to enjoy the simple things, treating yourself to good food, having nice moments with friends, or just trying to achieve balance in your day to day.
As Christians, we share the love of Jesus with our neighbors with open arms. We find contentment in the blessings that come from God’s hand, both big and small. We open our hearts and souls to one another to spread the joy that comes from the hope we have in our savior.
The Lord has given this world to us, to glorify him! Let us praise him and appreciate it!
Read the following verses with this picture of hygge in your mind:
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:7-8 ESV (emphasis added)
Dwell in safety. Lie down in peace. Hearts full of joy.
Cozy, together, content. There’s hygge in the Lord.
Paul’s letter to the Christians in Thessalonica includes this directive:
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV
Why are the people in Denmark so happy? The answer, says Wiking, is hygge. But hygge creates something deeper than happiness.
Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of The Book of Hygge, puts it perfectly:
A determined pursuit of happiness doesn’t necessarily lead to wellbeing. At the heart of Danish life, and at the core of hygge, is the deeper stability of contentment.
Hygge emphasizes being content with what you have, and embracing the joy of living in every moment. For example, to hygge” during an afternoon, you may consider that even though the dishwasher is broken and you must wash dishes by hand, the sun is shining and your favorite songs are playing on the radio. To hygge is to find pleasure in the little things.
I want to take a moment to remind us that God loves when we are content, but He also loves when we find joy in small things. Although we will experience suffering, He encourages us to have joy. In John 16:33 He tells us to “take heart,” and in one of my new favorite passages, his servant Solomon says:
Hygge also emphasizes that money isn’t everything, and values homemade gifts and food above expensive gifts and eating out.
Hygge and gratitude go hand in hand. The philosophy entails feeling thankful for the little things, like a bike ride on a beautiful day, or a cup of hot chocolate, or re-watching your favorite movie. “Research shows that people who feel grateful are not only happier but also more helpful and forgiving and less materialistic,” says Wiking. “It’s all about savoring simple pleasures.”
This may not be a very popular topic among Christians, but selflessness and self-care go hand-in-hand. It is not selfish to give ourselves the basic physical, spiritual, and emotional attention our minds and bodies demand; in fact, it prepares us to help and encourage others. Hygge is about finding the twinkle in the everyday. That could be using your favorite china mug for your evening tea, just because it feels a tad fancier. Popping on those dreamy cashmere socks you’ve been saving, even if it’s just to curl up and read.
Use Empathy-Try to see all the good in the family members who would otherwise irritate you. Try less judging and more tolerance and understanding. We get into bad habits in families where we often focus on the negative or feel upset or offended. We are actually hard wired as humans to do this. It is called the negativity bias and it evolved to protect us from when we were cave men. This vulnerability to feeling threatened or on alert is not protecting us anymore and it can cause more havoc than good, especially in family gatherings. When you understand that a negativity bias exists, it’s easier to be conscious of why we are more attuned to snide comments from family members and try not to focus on them.
Enjoying the moment
Hygge is about living in the present moment enough to recognize and acknowledge the act, the moment and the feeling …and all this transforms the ordinary activity into one with extraordinary charm and feelings .Be joyful in whatever you’re doing, grateful that you’re able to do that task, and fully appreciate every little movement .You’ll learn that anything can be an amazing experience, anything can be a miracle
Winter is long here in Manitoba, Canada– always six months, sometimes more – and it can be a struggle. So unless we want to slip into seasonal sadness for half the year, we might as well embrace it and look for loveliness against the backdrop of long, dark nights.
I find little bits of winter cheer in undistracted conversations, in walks along the riverfront and over good meals with friends. I find it in watching Netflix with family, hot apple cider in hand, as we bundle up under blankets in our living room. Hygge has a lot to do with nurturing relationships – through inviting others to your home, listening to others well, and making time for people.
Often, we panic about the future or fixate on the problems of the past. One of the main attractions of hygge is its focus on the present moment, and as Christians, this is a really important perspective to have. God is interested in our lives at this moment, and the Bible reminds us not to worry or be afraid.
Hygge doesn’t happen while we’re checking our emails, or replying to that not-so-urgent text message. Part of its beauty and power is found in the simplicity of things that don’t require a plug socket. An open fire; a warm candle; a big sofa; good conversation and friends. So challenge yourself to switch off from technology every so often, either to spend time listening to God’s voice, or investing in other people.
Tell uplifting stories from your past.
Still battling about how backwards Uncle Bob sounds? What about that time when you were little and you all had that great time at the beach? How many wonderful memories we all have with our families if we allow ourselves to talk about those? It doesn’t serve us to focus on these things or fall into the same repetitive negative storylines. We can build up a positive family storyline by talking about the good times. This is connecting in the moment and this is the essence of hygge.
Do random acts of kindness
Whether it’s bringing a box of donuts to the office or simply lending a compliment to a co-worker, you can turn someone’s entire day (and your own) around just by being kind.
“Social support does help manage stress,” said Iben Sandahl, Alexander’s co-author and co-creator of “The Danish Way.” According to Sandahl, knowing we have people who care about us makes us more resilient.
“Being vulnerable with someone [allows for] a huge distribution of the stress we carry, helping to get it off our backs,” Sandahl said.
Treat everyday like it’s special.
We often feel that in order to treat ourselves, we must have done something good. Get this out of your head and wake up seeing everyday as a special day, pretend it’s Christmas if you need to. You don’t need to keep your favorite lipsticks and perfumes for special days, every day can be special.
Find Comfort Zone
‘Hyggelig’ can mean to comfort oneself, or to be reflective. We believe it’s really important for us to allow ourselves time to idle, to dream, and to ponder…find a time and space where you can allow your spirit to catch up with your mind Try bathing by candlelight, a mindful morning of making a slow hot cup and journalling. Be spontaneous and take a day trip to your favorite place, make something, exercise, or just sit quietly and allow your mind to wander before you go to bed. Whatever works for you to allow yourself to catch up.
Thank you for reading this, I would love to know your thoughts on the concept of Hygge? Do you maybe practice ‘Hyggelig’ without even realizing it, or will you be making some new plans in the run up to winter? We’ll be sharing some more thoughts on Hygge for you and your home very soon!
“When life gets tough, the tough get going.” This timeless proverb may be true for some but, for others, hardship can be too much to overcome. When the going gets tough, their life simply falls apart. What is it exactly that separates those who thrive regardless of adversity and those who don’t? Is it genetics, luck, or pure willpower?
Consider that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before he became the first democratically elected president in South Africa. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated eight times in elections before becoming president.
Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, saying she was raped at age nine and became pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy.
Einstein is currently known as the “father of modern physics.” That’s a pretty big title for someone who couldn’t get into college right away. Einstein was no child prodigy; his grades were poor, his focus in the classroom was sporadic, and when he first tried to get into college, he failed the entrance exam. Nevertheless, Einstein eventually graduated and developed some of the most important scientific theories of the modern world, which still form the fundamental basis for modern physics. Even if you aren’t familiar with the scientific value of his work, you know his name–it’s synonymous with scientific intelligence.
For most people, getting rejected from college would seem like the end of the road. An optimistic handful might think that a career in science is still possible. But Einstein blew those assumptions away and became not just a great scientist, but one of the greatest scientists that ever lived. Remember that the next time you’re faced with rejection.
Thomas Edison is often named as an example of why failure shouldn’t stop you from trying; different estimates purport that he built 100 to 1,000 light bulbs before he found one that worked. But James Dyson is a modern-day Edison who experimented even more before eventually finding success. For 15 years, James Dyson tried–and failed–to build a better vacuum cleaner, scrapping a reported 5,127 prototypes in total. But still, Dyson insisted that each prototype brought him one step closer to perfection, and today he’s a billionaire.
When you buy a stunning new product, you don’t get to see the countless ugly, unfinished versions that came before it. No matter how hard you work at your first draft, it’s probably going to end up looking terrible, so don’t get discouraged. Keep working at it, and eventually, even if it takes you 5,000 tries, you’ll get something great.
These examples are extreme, but they demonstrate the different routes people may choose when facing major obstacles.
I have a clear memory from my childhood growing up in Kenya, where we slept many nights without lunch and dinner because there was food, we were very poor compared to many neighbors. I wore my first shoe when I was in grade 7. But all this did not discourage or stop me from dreaming, my mama always reminded me that where you start is not where your story ends.
As I write this I am aware that there many readers reading this and are probably going through some tough times. I have some encouragement for you. DO NO LOSE HOPE. If things get really bad, you’ll certainly benefit from following the Finnish philosophy of sisu. This principle can be roughly described in English as having a backbone and courage. However, sisu is more than just that. Sisu is an almost mystical concept that means being a hero of your own story. As Winston Churchill once said, if you’re going through hell, you should keep going! Sisu is a life-saving principle. No matter what happens to you, the best thing you can do is stay strong and remain hopeful.
Without warning, Soviet Union planes came roaring over the city of Helsinki, Finland on November 30, 1939. Finland was about to receive a violent shove into World War II.
The Soviets dropped more than 350 bombs during the raid. Innocent civilians died. Entire buildings were turned to dust. And it was just the beginning. Three hours before the air strike, more than 450,000 Soviet soldiers began marching across the Finnish border. The Soviet soldiers outnumbered the Finnish army almost 3-to-1. That wasn’t the worst of it. The Soviets also commanded more than 6,000 armored tanks and almost 4,000 aircraft. Finland, meanwhile, had just 32 tanks and 114 aircraft.
It was the beginning of what became known as the Winter War. For the Finns, there was no question whether some of them would die. The question was whether any of them would survive.
The Winter War
The winter was brutal that year. In January, temperatures dropped to 40 degrees below zero. Furthermore, at that time of the year and with Finland being located so far north, the soldiers were surrounded by darkness for almost 18 hours per day. Vastly outnumbered, fighting in a brutally cold darkness, and facing near-certain death, the Finnish soldiers relied on a concept that has been part of Finnish culture for hundreds of years: Sisu.
Sisu is a word that has no direct translation, but it refers to the idea of continuing to act even in the face of repeated failures and extreme odds. It is a way of living life by displaying perseverance even when you have reached the end of your mental and physical capacities. During the Winter War, the extreme mental toughness of Sisu was all the Finnish soldiers could rely on.
The Finns would suffer more than 70,000 casualties during the Winter War. But that number would pale in comparison to the 323,000 Soviet casualties during that same time. By the end of winter, the Soviets had seen enough. The Moscow Peace Treaty was signed in March 1940. In total, the Soviets had attacked with over 900,000 soldiers during the Winter War. By the end, 300,000 Finns had managed to fight them to a standstill.
Emilia Lahti, a PhD candidate at Aalto University in Helsinki and former student of Angela Duckworth at University of Pennsylvania, studies the concept of Sisuand how it applies to our lives. According to Lahti, “Sisu is the concept of taking action in the face of significant adversity or challenge. It is not so much about achievement as it is about facing your challenges with valor and determination.” She goes on to say, “Sisu provides the final empowering push, when we would otherwise hesitate to act.”
In many ways, Sisu is similar to grit, which has been shown to be one of the best predictors of success in the real world. Sisu runs even deeper than grit. It is a type of mental toughness that allows you to bear the burden of your responsibilities, whatever they happen to be, with a will and perseverance that is unbreakable. It is the ability to sustain your action and fight against extreme odds. Sisu extends beyond perseverance. It is what you rely on when you feel like you have nothing left. In many ways, Sisu is similar to grit, which has been shown to be one of the best predictors of success in the real world. Sisu is a life-saving concept in situations of survival. This can mean a life-threatening situation, or simply staying strong when life throws you a curveball. Whether it is trouble at work or personal life, adapting sisu is all about adopting an attitude of never giving up or giving in. No matter what comes your way, it will help you see hope, stay strong, and persevere against all odds.
Sisu most often focuses on getting through today instead of making long-term goals. It is like getting the ‘second-wind’ when running out of energy. Sisu is what happens when all other sources of motivation are depleted, yet, it is an unbreakable and unstoppable force.
At the same time, sisu implies that you keep fighting through the obstacles while also maintaining humility and integrity. It is a combination of physical endurance, mental acuity, and emotional intelligence.
Sisu is a life-saving concept in situations of survival. This can mean a life-threatening situation, or simply staying strong when life throws you a curveball. Whether it is trouble at work or personal life, adapting sisu is all about adopting an attitude of never giving up or giving in. No matter what comes your way, it will help you see hope, stay strong, and persevere against all odds.
In the deeper sense, Sisu allows you to go through the ascension process regardless of the odds stacked against you. In a sense, it is akin to the hand of Providence itself helping you along the road of life no matter what the outside world tries to place in the way of your higher purpose.
Whether we like it or not, adversity is part of life. Overcoming adversity is one of the biggest hurdles we face.
As Havelock Ellis wrote, “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.” Problems, large and small, present themselves to us throughout our whole existence.
Regardless of how sharp, clever, or happy-go-lucky we are, we will encounter struggle, challenges, difficulties and at times, heart wrenching moments. Is this meant to be a negative, cynical assessment of what we have to look forward to? In any adversity we can build sisu in ourselves to meet any adversity.
Stay in the present moment – Don’t create extra problems that don’t exist yet by looking into the future or mulling on past regrets. Staying in the present means we focus on the problem as it is rather than how we think it might be.
As a result, we don’t needlessly exaggerate problems. Doing so rarely helps and instead paralyses our desire to take action.
Of course, this does not mean problems can’t be horrendous or extremely tough to manage. We’ll grieve, cry, become angry and curse the gods for leaving us here.
However, this cannot be the only thing we do.
Make a choice to take action. When the Finnish were fighting, they had to make the conscious decision that they were going to do something about it. This is important. While we’re likely to think we’re going to do something, often times, we do just that. Think about it and never move forward.
It’s much easier to think about how you’re going to handle something difficult indefinitely by getting stuck in the loop of justifying yourself. Never facing the fear of completing what you set out to do. Sometimes it’s best to let the fear pass but in these difficult situations when Sisu is needed, the cloud of fear may never leave you reveal a clear sky. You jump into the storm anyway.
We all experience failure, but mentally tough people realize that failure is an event, not their identity. Sisu.
The Tips For Overcoming Adversity
Be aware of, and accept that adversity is inevitable in life. As has already been pointed out, adversity is part of life. To avoid or resist it will only make it persist. Everywhere you look in the world there is unmistakable struggle. There are floods, tsunamis, wars, and calamities of all types. Even within your own circle of family and friends there is death, loss and tragedy. Although pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. So what do you do?
Build your internal resources. Before adversity hits, work on cultivating emotional strength, courage and discipline. When you make yourself aware that certain difficulties are inevitable, you can prepare yourself mentally for confronting adversity head-on. It would be no different than a warrior going to battle. He (or she) prepares himself physically and mentally for any possibility. He knows it could be ugly, daunting, and grueling, but he is equipped. More often than not, when you’re prepared for the worst, the worst never happens, or it’s much less severe than anticipated. Another invaluable inner resource is faith. Faith that everything will work out; faith that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and faith that “this too shall pass.” Everything in life has its place and purpose.
It takes more energy to live a life full of fear than to live one full of faith. To fear is to convince yourself to live in the walls you build yourself. To have faith is to convince yourself to embrace change. You can either live in faith or live in fear; however, faith and fear cannot coexist. When your desire to overcome becomes greater than your fear, you’ll overcome adversity naturally. Fear will always attempt to immobilize you, while faith is designed to energize you. It turns out that overcoming obstacles provides an unexpected motivational boost, pushing you to deliver more than is expected. The stakes are higher but so are the rewards.
Life can seriously suck sometimes. There are a multitude of barriers we might face. It ranges from eating spicy food, wiping your eyes with chili covered hands, crying then realizing you have no tissues to being in a violent spiral of debt. Endless complaining, no matter how justified it seems, prevents anything from happening and gives us reasons to complain even more. Much like venting our anger, complaining might become an enjoyable thing to do even if we can’t admit that to ourselves.
Be an obstacle pioneer:Brian Chesky, cofounder of Airbnb, is a self-confessed failure pioneer who equally credits obstacles as part of his leadership development. He writes in his personal blog: “If you want to understand Airbnb, you have to understand our beginnings. Our story started with a problem that those struggling financially know well. In October of 2007, my roommate Joe Gebbia and I were living in a San Francisco apartment, and we couldn’t afford rent. That weekend, an international design conference was coming to town, and all of the hotels were sold out. So we had an idea: why not turn our place into a bed and breakfast for the conference? We inflated airbeds and called it the AirBed & Breakfast.”
Today, Airbnb stands at the forefront of the sharing economy with more than 20 million people using its service and winning Inc. magazine’s “Company of the Year” title. If Chesky and his cofounders had given up at the first major obstacle, there would be no Airbnb.
Eat Problems for Breakfast: You are bound to fail occasionally. In failure are life’s little secrets: you cannot learn to ride a bike by reading how to ride one. James Dyson produced more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he invented his bestselling Dyson Air Vacuum. Embrace failure as your biggest teacher. It’s a vital part of the process of growing as a human being. A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t fix it quickly and start over. The formula for success isn’t a mystery. It’s a conscious choice to learn from failure. Each wrong choice builds character and strengthens your mindset for the next challenge. Stephen Rapoport, founder of Pact Coffee, started Failboat by gathering startup founders around a table to discuss their failures and what they had learned. In an interview in the Sunday Times, he says: “I’m absolutely convinced you learn an awful lot more when you get things wrong than when you get things right. When you get things right, you don’t know whether you’ve got them completely right. When you get things wrong, you know where the line is.” Rapoport continues: ‘‘We have two modes: success and learning. I don’t look at learning as a failure, as long as you don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. If you’re scared to fail, you will find it hard to make decisions, you will slow down and you won’t want to push yourself. In other words, if you’re not failing at all, you may not be trying hard enough.”
Take inspiration and learn from others who have dealt successfully with adversity. There are many inspiring stories of people who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. They triumphed over their adversities to live successful, productive lives instead of surrendering to it.
Here are some examples:
Helen Keller: Lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame her deafness and blindness to become a strong, educated woman who spoke about, and promoted, women’s rights.
Winston Churchill: Overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance in school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the twentieth century. He was also known for his powerful and rousing speeches.
Wilma Rudolph: The Olympian born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio to become winner of three Gold medals in track at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games.
J.K. Rowling: Born to a poor family; left a bad marriage with a young baby to live on government assistance; wrote her first Harry Potter book and was turned down by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Need I say more?
Determination, resilience, and persistence enabled all of these great people to push past their adversities and prevail. If they could do it, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to do overcome our adversities!
Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously wrote “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Adversities are an unavoidable, universal part of the human experience. Striving to achieve meaningful goals, pursuing our purpose or standing up for our values are acts which often involve enduring numerous failures. Furthermore, we may face unexpected hardships and trauma, which take us to the very edge of our existence.
Cheetah – the fastest land animal on the planet clocks speeds of 109 to 120 km/h (68 to 75 mph), covers up to 500 m (1,640 ft) in short bursts, and can accelerate from 0 to 96 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in three seconds. When cheetahs run at full speed, their stride is 6-7 meters (21 feet) and their feet touch the ground only twice during each stride. And, cheetahs are the only members of the big cat family which can turn in mid-air while running.
what most fascinates me about this protected species that lives primarily in Africa are its unique physical characteristics:
¨ Flexible spine;
¨ Oversized liver;
¨ Enlarged heart;
¨ Wide nostrils;
¨ Increased lung capacity;
¨ Black “tear” marks under its eyes.
For just a moment, reflect on these characteristics of the cheetah, and how they relate to humans:
Cheetahs are built for speed,pursuit. Leaders and anyone with a goal for that case, anyone who want to move ahead very fast, and are willing to put in the effort to get the speed, belong to the cheetah mindset team. Such entrepreneurs do not work very well with teams. If the necessity arises, they will do a major chunk of the work on their own. Cheetahs are sprinters, not long distance runners. They run in short bursts of tremendous speed. Leaders like them work feverishly for short spans of time. And after every burst, they need to rest. But, such entrepreneurs are very shy and submissive. It is easy to snatch away their winnings, just the way larger animals take a cheetah’s prey away. They cannot exert authority, and therefore, work best alone.
Smart leaders understand it’s not just enough to pursue, but pursuit must be intentional, focused, consistent, aggressive, and unyielding. You must pursue the right things, for the right reasons, and at the right times. Perhaps most of all, the best forms of pursuit enlist others in the chase. Pursuit in its purest form is highly collaborative, very inclusive and easily transferable. Pursuit operates at greatest strength when it leverages velocity and scale.
A cheetah wakes up everyday and goes on the hunt for that what it sees in it’s mind. The cheetah always has a plan. They have “high value targets” they are going to get in front of its prey. They have an angle they are trying to work. The cheetahs are the persons who create plans in their mind and set goals to meet the targets. They have meetings they are going to, places to be at, and people to meet. They don’t spend or waste their time in low value activities. They work hard to get proximity to key players every single day of the week, they work with others so that they can help with their services and advance together. Cheetahs work a system. Cheetahs expand with and through their associations. Cheetahs have a high bounce back rate and don’t spend much time retreating or contracting.
In African safari, if you ever spot a cheetah you will see that cheetahs typically sit special locations or positions. If you will notice, this location will be a position of perspective which can be a treetop, a mound or hilltop overlooking the watering hole or valley.This may look like laziness, but actually, its far from it. The cheetah is actually very busy mentally. And what it is really doing is analyzing a herd of potential food.It is surveying the territory, so we if you want to advance, to do well you should be looking for emerging patterns, the cheetah is looking for particular movements in the herd.
Competition isn’t the first thing most association leaders think of when they are analyzing strategic threats. Every year, new organizations and services pop up that provide services that can now be offered faster at less cost. This can be discouraging for teams or business that are enjoying status quo. But I think it is an opportunity for any team or business that want to stay ahead to see this as an opportunity of growth.
Walt Disney had a favorite quote: “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
It’s great advice for us all. Moving forward and delivering value in new ways will help ensure that members view your association as the best partner to help grow their careers and their businesses. Your team need to stay innovative to beat their competition.
Their light musculoskeletal structure means other predators, such as the hyena, can push cheetahs off the kill and enjoy the feast themselves. Even so, the cheetah will make its kill and eat what it can before the hyenas get there, knowing that it can move on and make another kill.
In business terms, that’s the mindset of a leader — accept that others will come into the market, and you’ve got to move faster than they do. If you want to get a new idea to market quickly, you cannot do it with the cumbersome infrastructure that many large organisations have. Each layer of hierarchical decision-making adds a layer of delay. Just as a cheetah might be happy to make the kill and move on, don’t be afraid to abandon ideas that don’t work.
Those of us who have Cheetah-like inspiration will go for new opportunities, we will not be deterred by frustrations but will walk or run towards our targets. Make a note of any processes that really annoy you, and resolve to do something about them.
What makes cheetahs such remarkable hunters is not their speed, but their ability to slow down quickly. They not only reach 60 miles per hour running down their prey, but they can cut their speed by nine miles per hour in a single stride. This gives them an incredible advantage, enabling them to turn sharply, jump sideways, and change directions in an instant — their skill at leaping sideways, changing directions abruptly and slowing down quickly — that gives those antelope such bad odds. And that is exactly what makes a good leader great—the ability to bob and weave and move towards the target as new information is learned, bending the law of physics in ways that enable one to leap over competitors without slowing down to look back and mourn change.
And with a return to fundamental basics, we might find ourselves, as leaders or even as followers, navigating through our lives differently. If we move like cheetah….but our feet might touch the ground more often but will never lose of our targets.
l am a Registered Nurse by profession. To maintain my Nursing license I have to renew it every year before December 01 of each year. As part of renewal includes completion of jurisprudence test. With my hectic I didn’t complete this test on time. By the time I completed the test submission deadline was done. This meant my registration was terminated on December 31,2018.
When I lost the license I visited the licensing office, they explained to me that I had to complete criminal check and child registry check plus multiple other checks before I could apply for a reinstatement. I was horrified. As the realization set in that I couldn’t “legally” give the medication and not consider it late, a sinking panicky feeling arose in my gut. I began to rationalize in my head all the reasons why this happened. So the reasoning went in my head as I tried to justify why I hadn’t renewed my RN license on time. I was angry at myself because it meant paying a few more hundred dollars that could have gone to good cause, it meant a few weeks without work as a Registered Nurse. It meant that signing R.N. after my name when I am not licensed is was fraud and material misrepresentation It a day and weeks of regret and shame, it was very painful and I said lots of “should have done”. I felt shame because I had explain to my employer about my situation. I felt shame because I had failed to comply with nursing standards that I had strongly upheld for others.
I am very sure that you and I behaved in a way that has negatively impacted you, a situation, or the people you love. You can’t let go of the guilt, shame, regrets and self loathing for what you did. You believe you must be a bad person. You’re feeling stuck, undeserving of love and happiness, and downright fraudulent, those are the feelings I felt that day. .
In this situation and many other situations where I have felt similar feelings I have learnt that the key element to stress with regret is that you are looking back upon a past event and reflecting upon it. The feeling of regret is not positive, and it comes from strongly wanting to change your actions, your behaviors, your reactions, etc. In the present you are thinking back to a past event, and expressing your regret which may make you feel apologetic, sad, or shameful. Regrets can be a good thing to a certain extent–when it evokes productive guilt and teaches us something we can carry forward. But, when it keeps us up at night, causes shame and anxiety, it’s no longer productive.
Overcoming regrets is very important if you are going to love a meaningful life. There is no way you can avoid occasional mistakes which sometimes leads to regrets.
As a matter of fact, regrets are not altogether bad things. It is the regrets that motivate you to strive for better and make your life worthwhile to live provided you have a positive attitude towards it. It all depends on your presumptions of regrets that determine how they affect you, positively or negatively. To overcome regrets, you need to learn the lessons from regrets to enable yourself to make better choices in the future and move forward in life. Here are some of the ways that may help you to overcome regrets in order to lead a happy life:
Acceptance is the ability to unconditionally value all parts of who you are. That means you acknowledge all of yourself–the good and the things that need improvement. For most of us, self-acceptance can be hard. We tend to be critical of ourselves, but there are a number of ways to learn to accept yourself and your life. It all begins with your state of mind.
2.RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT THE REGRET
Regrets can change you as a person over time, for better and this is what makes life valuable provided you recognize and accept the regrets in order to learn the lessons it has to offer and apply in your life. Always keep in mind that everyone does what they think is the right thing to do in any given situation, but if something goes wrong, only then people realize their action as a mistake. Mistakes in life often occur inadvertently and so there is no need to punish your-self by being sad, depressed, frustrated, and gets indulged in self-pity. That is why you should recognize the real cause of regrets, accept it, forgive yourself, and pick up the lesson in order to move forward confidently.
3.Own your outcomes.
Work toward owning every part of your realities–not just the things that need work but also your strengths and successes. Owning all your outcomes can help teach you to do better next time, to see failure as a learning moment.
4. Recognize that everyone has some regrets in life – and see how they handle them.
You are not alone. Look at how the people you know handle their regrets. Of those, who would you like to emulate? Uncle Biff who’s never ever gotten over that missed baseball in Little League – or Aunt Buffy who made and lost a million bucks and laughed her way through the process of making her subsequent million? Look for inspiration in celebrities, too. Growing up, Mel Brooks studied drums with the drumming legend Buddy Rich. Rich thought young Mel was a prodigy and was grooming him to follow in his footsteps. When Mel heard the siren song of comedy writing, Rich warned him he was making the mistake of his life giving up a promising career in music to mess around telling a bunch of stupid jokes. Brooks says that although Rich never forgave him, he never regretted the path he took.
5. Practice Self Forgiveness.
If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance you are not a horrific human being. You obviously care about your own healing and about the people you love that you probably have caused pain due to your action, which you now regret about. Whatever has happened you, it is time to show kindness and compassion to yourself, to those that have been hurt, to forgive yourself and let go.
In the Movie “Frozen,” Elsa, the older sister, sings these words: “Let it go, let it go … And I’ll rise like the break of dawn … ”
Let it go.
Those are words I sensed God speaking to me as I walked to Winnipeg Police Headquarters to get a criminal check and Manitoba Child Registry that cold day, I could hear God’s soft voice telling me that it was ok, to let go the regrets of losing my RN license.
“Let go of the past that you cannot undo.”
“Let go of the warped view you have of yourself. It doesn’t match the one I have as your Heavenly Father.”
“Let go of the hurts that hold you too tightly.”
Today, I am very grateful to say I have been reinstated my RN license, this I am very thankful!
Maybe you’ve sensed God asking you to let something — or someone — go.
So next time you find yourself regretting something you did, try to face up to instead of pretending it didn’t happen and be compassionate with yourself. You might just be able to get over it.
Recently I had an opportunity to visit Lake Louise Alberta, where I saw the magnificent work of God. The lake is curved between two, beautiful ice capped mountains. As my family and other tourists posed on the snow covered lake for photos, I thought a lot about what God sees when He looks down at His creation. He must be saying something like, “it is all beautiful.” I imagine this because as one stand there is no excuse of not seeing these immeasurable beauty. The mountains on both sides of the lake look warm and welcoming, the castle at the lake look steady and inviting, the ice on the lake is playful, inviting everyone to skate on it. Everything on Lake Louise is worthy the drive. These beauty is not found only on Lake Louise. I see it every where I go, in downtown parks in Winnipeg, where I live. I see it on the streets, I see it on people’s faces, I see it on my social media tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, I see it in myself. The issue is that I get bored and stop to observe and appreciate the beauty around me.
Sometimes nature can echo how we feel. The beauty of a single rose with dew drops can echo the differing feelings that love can evoke. Robert Frost, in his poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” illustrates the plight of modern life. The poem’s narrator rides on horseback through a forest in the night, on his way to conduct some errand. Upon seeing the snow slowly moving through the branches, he stops for a moment.
But to his sadness, he has much to do, and cannot stay for long. His subsequent thoughts create some of the most famous closing lines in all of poetry.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Around you and me is beauty everywhere, in that beauty is God’s goodness on display. The question is, do you and myself see it? The Scripture talks about how God was in the midst of people, but they knew Him not. Too many times, God is working in our lives, showing us favor, protecting us, sending us healing, but we don’t recognize His goodness. For example, if you weren’t the most qualified or the most talented but you got the promotion, that’s the goodness of God. If you’re going through a difficult time and a friend stops by out of the blue and cheers you up, that’s the goodness of God. It’s easy to see the negative, what we don’t have, what we didn’t get, but that won’t build our faith. Instead, make a decision to search for the good things God has given you. His mercy is new each morning. Look for His goodness.
Like the narrator, who finds the snowy wood lovely, but cannot stay long enough to enjoy it, we often become so busy that we no longer have the time to appreciate and benefit from the natural world. And without it, there can be no true peace for us—no “sleep.”
I want to also note that not everyone among us see beauty in their own lives. Some of us have gone through journeys where we have been made to hate ourselves, some have gone through some marital issues where their partners or spouses have made them feel that are ugly and stupid. I remember working with a lady who revealed to us that she never looks herself in the mirror because she has come to believe her husband that she looks ugly. Millions of us go through this painful journey daily and quietly. As we walk alongside these people it is our call for many to always try to help these people find their own beauty.
Growth comes from inside and time never matters when you live your life from the heart. So cheers to good friends,great conversations,to people that are no longer with us but left an impact on our lives,cheers to books,movies and art that feed our souls, cheers to music and love.
We all feel fear … don’t let anyone tell you they don’t. The truly successful have simply found a way to break through their fear.
Nelson Mandela had it right when he said …
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
So how do you conquer fear?
How do you grow your business without letting fear hold you back?
Some of us are staying within our comfort zones and this is our best way of ‘conquering fear’.
Your Inner Critic, the voice in the mind that speaks to you all day, runs on fear. This is the voice that tells you that you shouldn’t take risks, because you might fail; that you need to keep yourself safe and protected from the possibility of rejection, inadequacy, vulnerability; that you should not put yourself out there to the world, because what if the the world says “no?”. This Inner Critic develops in childhood as an attempt to avoid painful feelings, protecting you from feeling hurt in any way. It might sound like, “you should…”, “why didn’t you…?”, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why can’t you get it together?” It is the Inner Critic that is responsible for keeping you stuck! That voice that tells us we can not don’t, we don’t have what it takes to do the project. It creates fear and sometimes paralysis. We feel we cannot move further than where we are, we are doomed and cursed.
Does this sound familiar?
We all have fears that can sometimes cause anxiety and stress but what does it do for us in the long run?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been the type of person that has his mind five steps ahead of the pace my feet are moving. I am constantly coming up with amazing ideas on how to make myself a better person or how to make my business more successful etc. What I have noticed is that there have been times that I have had such exciting ideas that I love and I just know that I need to do something with them but they end up just sitting in my creative journal, why you ask? Because fear kicks in and I start to doubt myself, which then leads to immense anxiety and I just pop the idea aside to do the ‘not so scary things’.
How can we overcome fear?
- EMBRACE IT
Put the fear right in front of you. Look at it, step into it, feel it as much as you can…let it get as big as you can. Stay with it as long as you can and when the fear is at it biggest, then look at it, observe it, can you see yourself as separate from the fear? Can you see what is underneath the fear, behind the fear? Notice as you are doing this that through your awareness the fear starts loosing its hold on you.
- TRANSFORM IT
Whenever the feeling of fear arises and slows you down, stops you, freezes you, pick up a towel and scream into the towel, right through the fear. This is a powerful way to transform the fear energy into an energy of excitement. I believe this to be the most powerful tool on how to overcome fear.
- CHANGE IT
Learning to shift our focus away from what we stand to lose, and toward what we stand to gain, will completely change our perception of the situation. This simple shift can quickly leave us feeling more courageous and eager to take action! Many people are in the habit of seeing the negative side of any challenging situation. If we focus more on how big the challenge seems, instead of the potential benefits, we will resist taking action because all we can see is the potential, negative risks involved. The more we focus on the possibility of loss the more fear we create. With this kind of mindset, wanting to move forward toward our dreams probably won’t provide enough incentive to overcome these fears. As a result, we will continuously hold ourselves back and end up accomplishing far less than we are capable of.
- LIST IT
You may find it helpful to make a list of any specific fears you have and get them out in the open. In each situation that leaves you feeling hesitant or fearful, try to evaluate exactly what is holding you back. What is it that you are afraid will happen and why? Are those things really likely to occur, or is there only a slight chance?
Then use a separate sheet of paper and create a list of the benefits you stand to gain by moving forward. Be as specific and optimistic as you can. Remember that dread and fear will amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, which can make the positive benefits seem significantly smaller or less important. So, you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.
- ACT UPON IT
If you do decide that the time to take action is now, you may still need to work at building up your courage a bit before you act. Creating a well thought out plan of action will go a long way in this area. Remember, the only person with the power to hold you back, or move you forward, is YOU. At its core, courage is largely the determination to conquer any fear, hesitation or excuse that attempts to separate you from your dreams.
Whatever you do, don’t try to convince yourself into believing that you have to be completely fearless before moving toward your goals! The most successful people in the world would openly confess that they eventually had to be resolved to move forward despite their fears and feelings of uncertainty!
Courage is absolutely a choice, and fear does not have the power to rob you of your dreams, motivation, and strength unless you decide to let it.
All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.
– Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet In Heaven
I remember the morning I went to Kirimara High School (Kenya) to check for the results of my Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). I was excited as I took a public bus to the school, I was very sure that I had passed the exam. I had worked very hard and was very hopeful that I was joining University of Nairobi to undertake a Bachelor of Economics. As the first born of 9 siblings and 6 half sisters and brothers there was always lots at stake, and my mother was always clear – work hard and succeed. Those two elements were always interrelated. You work hard, give it your 100%, and you will succeed. All my life, that formula worked. I studied, got good grades, did well on the Kenya Certificate of Education, got into a Provincial High School. I did everything “right” anytime I wanted something and I assumed that I will always get what I wanted with ease.
I still remember the months of hysteria leading up to the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). Like all of my classmates, I did all the homework assignments, made flash cards, and studied. The thought that I can spend two years of my life and fall short by failing the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) never occurred to me. My stomach sank as I read the result. The message sank in – you failed. You are a failure. How would I explain to my mother that her oldest son is a failure? I would be rendering meaningless everything she fought for, everything she sacrificed in a single stroke – by failing the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE).
So, that was my life. I went from being a bright star student to a failure. It took away my da bragging right to be able to announce to her friends that her son was going to university. I hid from people for a month and when I showed up people from my village gossiped about me, those who came to visit our home were sarcastic. I went into a deep depression.I thought that my was done, I thought of running away to Nairobi because I had so much shame. Many of my friends who never attended school were very happy that I was finally joining them, to be a farmer. I felt that I had failed and I had no future. Then I got a job interview with a Swahili Christian Magazine as an Associate Editor. They gave the job on the spot. This was the miracle I had been waiting for, I felt blessed and my vison was renewed. I could dream again. I accepted the job, and the job paved my paths to go to Daystar University, and later I found a way to Canada for Graduate studies.
While it looked like failure had a grip in me, God had better plans for me. I am very thankful that faluire had final say in my life. I want to tell others that it’s never an option to give up especially when it’s about reaching your dreams. If you want to become an engineer, go for it. There’s a saying, “Some people succeed because they are destined, but most because they are determined.”
Our failures can become some of our best teachers if we pay attention to and learn from them. They can give us the courage to confront our own and others’ imperfections and to accept failure as inevitable in today’s complex work organizations. Most successful people acknowledge they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, said in a Harvard commencement address, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.” Ms. Rowling knows about failure: She was a single, unemployed mother who received 12 rejections before a publisher accepted her first Harry Potter book.
Some people fear failure so much that they never put themselves in situations in which they could fail. But this sets a low ceiling on their prospects for professional success. Fear of failure is one of the strongest forces keeping people below their potential. In the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, author Timothy Ferriss advises readers to ask themselves what would happen if they chased their dreams and fell flat on their faces. He suggests the recovery time would be far shorter than we think.Wise professionals recognize that if you don’t take risks, you lose out on opportunities.
Steve Jobs is a particularly strong example of using grit to thrive despite professional failure. He and his business partner started Apple in a garage when Jobs was only 20 years old. By the time Jobs was 30 years old, Apple had grown into a multi-billion-dollar company–and Jobs found himself kicked to the curb when his creative vision diverged from the rest of the board.
In his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, he recalled how adrift he felt:
“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating…I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did.”
How can we rethink failure?
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact failure has on my life. I have to believe that failure in itself does not define me, but it has molded me into the person I am today. Failure to me is the greatest lesson of all and is formed from every mistake, loss, and defeat. Hardships and struggles are when growth happens the most. We all make mistakes, but it’s how we come back from these mistakes that truly matters. Each time we are faced with a problem, we have a decision; we can stay stuck on it, be negative, and not allow ourselves to heal, or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and rebuild from the ground up with a positive attitude.
Here below are some lessons that I find helpful to share with others regarding how to approach failure, these lessons are just guidelines on how to appreciate failure and make the best of it.
# 1.Failure deprives away the inessentials
Failure, as much as it hurts, is an important part of life. In fact, failure is necessary.In her commencement speech, Rowling said, “[When I failed] I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Failure for me has been my greatest teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions. Without failure, we’d be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, and great achievement; we would be less likely to reach for the moon and the stars.
# 2. Resilience in the face of failure
Resilience is our ability to cope with unexpected circumstances, and can be thought of as emotional awareness. If we are resilient, we are then able to cope better with life’s ups and downs. Building resilience is something that we can all aim to be better at and the benefits for us will be profound and long-lasting.
Unfortunately, we can’t build resilience on success alone. It takes failure for us to build our inner strength and work out how to deal with failure. A life of unbroken success doesn’t test us; if we are untested, then we are unprepared for what might come. Failing in life helps to build resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become. In order to achieve great success, we must know resilience. Because, if we think that we’re going to succeed on the first try, or even the first few tries, then we’re sure to set ourselves up for a far more painful failure.
Failure makes success possible, but not because of the eventual possibility for lucrative exits. Rather, failure opens the dialogue to show that we don’t have to be perfect; in fact, we can’t be. We need to speak honestly and openly — to let ourselves be known, so that failure and mistakes are put in their proper context.
# 3. Failure builds you up.
Failure can tear you down. It can make you feel horrible about yourself and about life. It can also build you up in ways you never thought possible if you let it.
Failure allows you the opportunity to acknowledge and take responsibility for your mistakes. Take responsibility for the part you played in your failure. Stare your monetary losses in the face without cringing. Acknowledge what happened and why you failed.
Failure makes us more emphathetic. Those who try and fail understand something about human nature that others who do not share that experience seem to lack. It can teach us to be empathetic toward other people who have not been successful.
#4. Failure drives us to change
Without failure, where would we be today? The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. Such is the case with Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, which purportedly took him 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype. “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Unlike Edison, many of us avoid the prospect of failure. In fact, we’re so focused on not failing that we don’t aim for success, settling instead for a life of mediocrity. When we do make missteps, we gloss over them, selectively editing out the miscalculations or mistakes in our life’s résumé. “Failure is not an option,” NASA flight controller Jerry C. Bostick reportedly stated during the mission to bring the damaged Apollo 13 back to Earth, and that phrase has been etched into the collective memory ever since. To many in our success-driven society, failure isn’t just considered a non-option—it’s deemed a deficiency, says Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. “Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list,” Schulz says. “It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.”
Winston Churchill once stated, “Success is based on going from failure to failure without losing eagerness.” Failure is the most wonderful teacher if we are willing to learn from it. Success does not come easy. Everyone must face one hurdle after another. It’s the only way to reach success. The reason being is that success must be maintained. If you think that once you have the success you crave and it’s time to relax, you are sadly mistaken.
“You are diabetic,” my doctor told me, reaching over to show me the lab results for the blood work done a few weeks before. I looked at him.
“We have tried exercise and dieting but it didn’t work,” he looked at me again, then sat to his chair. I waited and waited for the longest three minutes, “what does this mean?” I could not wait any longer.
“It means we will put you on meds,” the verdict was strong and the reality sounded very harsh. I looked at him, “can we try exercise again?”
“My friend, your blood sugar levels are 17 , that means if we don’t anything right now it is just of time before you start to lose use of essential organs,” he said without hesitation. I was worried and I knew if I didn’t follow his advise I would have worse medical needs. I had seen my mum go to a diabetic induced coma, I had seen her develop diabetic ulcers, I had seen others in the health care system lose their limbs, I feared I was next.
“I tell you what, “ the doctor continued to talk, “we will try one more time.” He ordered a Glucometer and asked that I check my blood sugars every for 3 weeks. That evening I went home discouraged. I put the Glucometer to a corner, I felt labeled as diabetic, sick and judged for death. I hated the Glucometer and looking at it reminded me that my journey to die is coming closer.
Then I read a post from a fcb friend who was encouraging others to join them on exercise challenge. The friend challenged others to set goal to lose at least 100 calories per day. I reluctantly agreed to join. I had tried to exercise before but it did not work, I feared agreeing to it would mean agreeing to fail. But because I had a verdict to either choose to be labeled as diabetic or do something about, I chose to do something.
I started with 100 calories on treadmill, then increased it to 200 calories. I am now at 300 calories. I have also started to be careful with what I eat. I have learned that I was not born to eat, I have to eat in moderation. I have lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks. I have come to enjoy exercising, it is no longer a drag but something for joy. I feel more energetic after exercise.
I can’t wait to see my doctor to thank him for giving me a second chance and I am always thankful to the fcb friend who has been a great motivator for me to keep on going. You are probably at a time in your life where you feel disappointments and fear of failure overwhelmingly coming towards you. I am sure you probably feel like giving up or running away, that is the easiest way for any hard situation. I felt like that too when the doctor told me I was diabetic, that night I could not sleep, I just imagined losing my limbs and I felt depressed. I also felt like I had lost the battle and I wanted to wait for whatever was going to happen to just happen.
Right now my story has changed for better and I cannot wait to see it evolve to even be a great and transforming story, I am more hopeful. This is my message for you too, whatever your situation it might be your story is not done yet. You still hold your pen to rewrite your story, you have the power to change the conversation.
And if there’s nothing left for you to hold on. Hold on to this, the journey you are going through is tough one, nothing to compare with and no one can completely understand your situation except you. It’s a battlefield. One you may or may not have signed up for. But the journey you are going through is worth it, don’t give up yet. Because somewhere, someday, you will use this journey to touch the life of someone. You may not know it, but God does. You may not be appreciated but you may unknowingly save a life.
Life comes around in a full circle. With every breaking, comes a new chance for healing and with every pain comes hope, where you feel defeated help is on the way and where you feel betrayed there’s that one person set up for you to give you a hand. And with every story, comes a testimony. So hold on, because the reason why life chose you was because it knew that you are going to be strong enough to fight the battle, do not let it go yet….you were born for great things.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 56:3-4 (NIV)
As I walk in my journey of life, I get to ask myself the question whether I am prepared to die and how well I want to face my death. I do not fear dying but I if I had a choice for when to die I would choose to have it wait until I over 70. I have a reason for my case: I am the first born from a large African family and I would like to help them with some of their needs, and I believe that I would like to go back to Kenya to continue with the work of an orphanage that I founded in 1994. I pray daily that God would give me many more years and that He would protect my family from any danger.
Over the years, I have seen death touch many people close to me. At the age of 5, I lost my grandfather, it hurt me to know that I had to grow up without a grandpa. Then in 1988 I lost my baby sister. In 1994, I lost a very close friend, who had been very dear to me. Her death left me numb and angry, I still feel that I did not get enough time to grief her illness. In the same year another woman from my village, who had mental illness and I had been her caregiver suddenly died.
With all these losses, I have learn that though it is my desire to live longer I know that the reality of life is that death is an inevitable part of life and it is as real as life itself, it can occur any time without a warning. With these in mind I prepare myself everyday to meet it. I do not long for it to come but I feel at peace with it when it comes. My beliefs on how to face death are attributed to my Christian and African traditions. As an African, death is a separation and not annihilation; the dead person is suddenly cut off from the human society and yet the corporate group clings to him. This is shown through the elaborate funeral rites, as well as other methods of keeping in contact with the departed”. The relatives of the dead believe that even though the soul of their dead relative has gone up to the sky or near to God, it remains also near to them and can be approached through prayers, libations, and offerings. And as a Christian death is a beautiful and eternal union with God, it is my final home in Heaven where time is no more. This perspective help me to live every day as though it is the last day of my life, and to see death as an only separation of the soul and the body, from each other but not a total loss of life.
Perhaps, the most difficulty thing for a young person of my age to do is to write a will. This in it explains that I have not done one yet. If I had wealth and if I knew that I am dying I would write one. Writing a will is very important because many of the things that need to be done have already been handled at a much less stressful time. Having a living allows my family to make decisions based upon my wishes. Having an up-to-date will ensures that my possessions will be given to those whom I wish. If I have already discussed with my loved ones–prior to becoming ill–where I wish to be buried, then the difficult decision is made with thought and reflection and before I am confronted with its reality. I my accounts and Life Insurance policy joined with my wife so that if death took either of us there would be no extra stress trying to sort out who would own the estate. I believe it is wise to make sure the papers–life insurance, savings accounts, etc.–are in order and easily located, which will make it much easier for those whose responsibility it is to take care of these matters.
If my death was questionable like in the case where a doctor misdiagnosed I would like to have an autopsy but if it were a natural death I would choose not to. In the case of how I want my body to be disposed I would like to be buried in my village in Kenya. The issue of cremation is very foreign for Africans, we believe in seeing the body before burial. The traditional African burial ceremony is an important preparation for the body’s journey after death. We believe that burying a body give the spirit of the deceased rest and peace. Destroying the body could destroy the human spirit. We bury our dead several feet underground and that is where they should remain. It is taboo for an African to be cremated. We believe in physical and spiritual lives and, if we cremate, resurrection of the dead will be affected. Donating organs is another controversial issue among the Africans. We do not donate organs because we be buried our people whole because we believe that in resurrection they will have their bodies back. Knowing the difficulty to get organ donors I would be willing to donate all internal organs
Funerals in Kenya are seen as a celebration of person’s life. It is my wish would be to be buried in Kenya, it is honored, and I would like to request my community in Kenya to provide traditional and Christian music and dance on my funeral. Unlike the somber atmosphere I experienced at funerals here in the Canada, the funerals in Kenya are colorful, celebration occasions. It is not at all unusual for there to be as many as three groups performing simultaneously at an at a funeral. In case my family cannot transport my body I would like to request my African community in Winnipeg to celebrate my life with music and dance.
If buried in Kenya, my village elders would for the wake keeping and would decide the proper time and place for the various events of a funeral. Members of my family and other members of the community may chose to commission performances on the days leading up to the night of the wake keeping and day of burial. People may also choose to commission a performance as long as a year or two after the actual day of burial. The reason for the tradition is that someone who may not have been able to attend the funeral will want to honor the person somehow when they are able to travel home. I would like stories about to be told by the elders at funerals and in this way history will be passed on by word of mouth. I would like a big feast in my funeral as my tradition belief in celebration of life.
I feel so much gratitude for they have given me so many gifts of loving wisdom and intimate moments of deep understanding. They have especially given me comfort and ease about my own life’s sojourn. I have had the honor to sit with in their last days and moments. Attending to, with individuals who are living with a terminal illness, supporting and consoling their families, are truly a privilege and a blessing for all who are involved in the gentle care of the living/dying experience. As many more individuals choose to die at home in the comfort of their own familiar surroundings, we as family, friends and caregivers have a special opportunity to share intimate moments with our loved one, opening our hearts to our sacred journey. It is a powerful experience to witness a dying person drop all the surface “stuff” and get to the heart of each moment. Meeting another, deep in our hearts and ourselves is the most powerful journey we can take together. We are called to give our gifts, letting the healing in, letting this be our human quest.
Something else that encourages me in my life is the good news of the Gospel which talks about resurrection story — the story of new life breaking through the midst of deep despair — is never finished. The ending is left unwritten because we must do our part. In this story, I am encouraged that we cannot let violence in this world and fear, and even death to silence us! Each spring, as seeds push from the ground, as new life comes from what was dead, we hear the challenging story again and must decide if we will let the violence, death and fear silence us and therefore bury us, or if we will rise again to raise our voices and our actions. Resurrection, not violence, it is not death and of course it is not fear, must have the last word.
There are three main fears that can hold you back ~ fear of failure, self doubt and fear of the future. These fears will seem like real insurmountable obstacles. Most of the time they are not. Rise above and you will see them for what they are. Choose courage (Joshua 1:9).
You might experience some or all of these symptoms if you have a fear of failure:
- A reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects.
- Self-sabotage– for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
- Low self-esteem or self-confidence – commonly using negative statements such as “I’ll never be good enough to get that promotion,” or “I’m not smart enough to get on that team.”
- Perfectionism- A willingness to try only those things that you know you’ll finish perfectly and successfully.
How To Overcome A Fear Of Failure
Different things will work for different people, so try and find what works best for you.
1. Reframe Failure
One of the best things you can do is to try and reframe your way of thinking about failure. Instead of seeing failure as a negative thing, try to look at it as a positive.
Failure can actually be a learning experience for you!
Try to remember that most people don’t succeed straight away, there will be mistakes and failures along the way.
These experiences can help you to learn and improve until you do succeed.
Being able to change your view on failure could really help you to not be so scared of experiencing it and instead, helping you to find the positive and learn from your mistakes.
2. Focus on the positive.
Bring an attitude of positivity to how you view yourself and the world around you.Focus on the things in life that are good. Don’t fill your head with junk. Stay away from the constant stream of negativity that’s so prevalent in this world. How you view life seeps into your head and creates fears and what if’s. You have control of what you take in and how you react. Look, if you spend all your time focused on your troubles or your weaknesses, you’re never going to become great. Keeping your eye on what’s wrong with your life, yourself, your spouse or your business is a good way to end up broke and alone. You’ve got to focus on what’s right with yourself and the world.
3. Ask Yourself Questions
Asking yourself questions can be a great way to become more aware of how you are feeling and why you feel that way. If you make a mistake, and you start to doubt yourself, take a minute to stop and ask yourself some questions.
These could be questions such as:
- ‘What can I learn from this mistake?’
- ‘What is the positive in this situation’
- ‘How am I feeling, and if it’s negative, how can I change it?’
This will make you dive deeper into how you are feeling, and work on improving things you need to improve on.
This can really help you when you are facing failures as you are changing your negative mindset and hopefully learning more about yourself too.
4. Focus on the future.
We all make mistakes. I know I do. My life is full of them. But the difference between someone who is dragged down by their mistakes and someone who overcomes them is their ability to focus on the future. Let go of what happened yesterday or last year or 10 years ago. Forgive that person who wronged you so you can be free. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about freeing yourself from the baggage so you can move forward. You have the opportunity today to create new successes using the lessons you learned from those mistakes.
I’d love to hear from you. How has fear put your excitement (or happiness) on pause? What has it stopped you from doing? What have you done in the past to break this cycle of fear? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.