After attending an International Women’s Day (IWD) High Tea this week I got to thinking about one of the speakers. This lady has had the most shockingly awful childhood. The word ‘tough’ doesn’t even scratch the surface. But what is extraordinary is the direction she took, what she has achieved and where she is today. This got me thinking about what makes a person extraordinary, particularly in the face of adversity. Here is my 2c worth …
What makes an extraordinary person
When a person, particularly a parent, leads us to believe we have little worth or are not destined for something better, it’s easy to fall into that belief. Told often enough that we are not good enough or not worthy of something is incredibly hard to turn around. Every human being has worth, and each of us can achieve whatever we want. Believing that you can, and never, ever quitting is easier said than done. Self-belief, faith in your destiny and some really hard work and discipline will go a long way. Never giving up or making excuses makes the difference. All of us, with or without adversity can easily fall into that ‘victim’ mode (versus ‘victor’ mode). I remember someone telling me years ago “… only one person can ruin your day – you”. Many people can try to ruin our day (or our life) but there is only one person who can allow that to happen – that’s you. You are the owner of your life and your destiny; only YOU can choose not to quit.
Stop blaming others
It’s so easy to fall into the mode of blaming others. It’s our parent’s fault, the government’s fault, the economy is bad, a competitor set up just down the road, the Council haven’t done enough, my partner doesn’t … the list could go on and on and on. Some of these are legitimate reasons things are tough in our life. As an experienced business coach, I hear reasons (aka excuses) regularly, ranging from “I was busy” to “the internet is rubbish” or “one of my staff didn’t turn up” or “I had a client problem to deal with” … these are the reasons they may not have done a planned action. The speaker at the High Tea had about a million reasons to have just quit and stayed in that life … but the difference is that she didn’t. Instead of focussing on blaming others and having every excuse under the sun (and albeit many absolutely legitimate ones) we should focus on moving forward. Taking hold of our own destiny means we focus on the positive and moving forward, rather than being caught up on the past. Instead of not doing something “because” … do it in spite of or despite that bump in the road.
Be positive, be strong
Life is tough; it’s certainly tougher for some. If you have to combat abuse, or rape, or exposure to drugs or domestic violence … this all adds to the challenges that are put in front of you. There is a multitude of shades of difficulty we all experience in our lives. Some of us do have it pretty damn hard. As I listened to that speaker, I thought about my own life. Being disowned by my mother whilst still in my teens, my husband dying, raising three children alone … my life wasn’t easy, but then hearing another’s experience, I am grateful I wasn’t given more challenges. Mind you, I believe a challenge is an opportunity in disguise. Whenever you think life is tough or you’re getting a hard go at it – remember there is always someone else doing it tougher – and you know what, they are probably still able to smile. The speaker later said to me “I think we can’t dismiss our feelings about our circumstances or discredit our own battles, we need to acknowledge our feelings in order to move forward.” Great advice and my additional tip is to find a balance – acknowledge your own circumstances, but don’t dwell too long on the negatives or our past, but rather try to find the positives and be thankful for the good in your life – even if at times, those good aspects may be a little hard to find. A strong and positive person will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move forward.
Have a strategy
Nothing (extraordinary) happens without a plan and strategy. Good luck rarely just lands in our laps – we usually have to do something to achieve it. In business, people might say they got a lucky opportunity … but I wonder if that would have occurred had they done nothing, performed no marketing and not be proactively promoting their business. We need a plan, a strategy and ideally the action steps to how we get there. For the speaker at the IWD event, I’m sure she had a plan. To become a licensed professional, that required years of University; that doesn’t happen without a plan. Given her story, “mummy and daddy” didn’t pay her tuition … she held down a number of jobs whilst still studying. I know myself I did my accounting studies whilst working full time and a single mum raising three young children. That strategy was shored up with a whole lot of tenacity.
Seek positive people – and do ask for help
I know my nature is to not always ask for help – but may I say, when you do ask for help, it makes things easier. Sometimes just reaching out to talk, or to ask for advice or to ask for something more substantial could lead to a no, but you know what – it might also lead to a yes. One thing I’ve always tried to do is surround myself with positive people and people who inspire and motivate and engage the best side of myself. There is a saying “we are the sum of the people we hang out with”. Those who are positive enhance our lives and inspire us to be a better person, enrich and lift us to inspire greatness within. If your experiences are really holding you back, consider counselling. Gone is the belief that those who see a councillor or psychologist are ‘crazy’ or ‘totally messed up’. I know many people who go purely to move a block, release something in their past so that they can move forward and have an amazing life (and amazing business).
And don’t forget … to pay it forward. In our lives, there are times we need to accept help, and there should be times we give help. Whether that is delivering meals to the elderly, giving a friend a caring ear, or helping in your local community group … don’t forget to give back. If you have the opportunity, even invite a friend to join you – community work isn’t just work. You build friendships with some pretty amazing people and do have some fun. Plus, most importantly, don’t forget; you’re helping others.
On that note, if I can help anyone … I know so many amazing people in so many fields – from community to professional services to medical and allied health and counselling. If you’re seeking help with any aspect – whether it’s looking for someone to help yourself or to help your business (perhaps website, marketing, develop contracts, social media) – then just ask me. I’d love to be able to help. Just drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 0411 622 666. Make a spectacular week!