After individuals learn about my long road to educational success, I'm often asked, "How were you able to continue to move forward despite multiple failures and overwhelming odds?" Most times, I simply respond by saying, "I made a choice."
This simplistic response usually creates frustrations for some. However, the reality is that most actions begin with a choice and a decision to take action; then, of course, the action itself.
An individual's ability to make positive forward-progress can be hindered or blocked by individuals who don't share the same perspective(s), passion(s), dream(s), or cannot consider options beyond their current reality.
During these times, individuals must consider for themselves or others the following questions to make forward-progress toward a goal, an objective, and/or an outcome.
Questions individuals might consider while faced with internal/external challenges or outright objections:
- Why is this important?
- Why should this be done (which isn't necessarily the same as the reason that this is important)?
- What or who could be impacted (if it's done; if it's not done)?
- What might be lost, missed, or compromised if this isn't done (this is the opportunity cost)?
- What are the short-term and long-term costs (including opportunity cost)?
- What are the short-term and long-term risks (expected and not as likely)?
- What are the short-term and long-term benefits (expected and not as likely)?
- What might others think about the effort (this shouldn't prevent an individual from taking action, but instead be used to prepare a response to objections)?
- What could be learned from the effort (sometimes the best value comes from the journey --- even if the outcome isn't as wanted and/or expected)?
- What is the worst thing that could happen (it's normally a lot less than an individual might think)?
- What will be achieved by the effort?
- Taking all of the previous questions into consideration, is this worth the time, energy, effort, and the cost (real or perceived) to proceed?
The use of these types of questions, a choice, and a subsequent decision -- to proceed or not -- can aid in a thorough evaluation of multiple considerations to reach an informed determination prior to any action.
My ability to continue to be resilient despite ongoing life challenges requires several components:
- Belief - truly imagining that something is possible;
- Faith - a belief that if action is taken a goal or an objective will be achieved --- even if there isn't an understanding about the way to accomplish it;
- Willingness to Take Chances - understanding that if failure is the worst thing that can happen, then this is a normal part of life; therefore, individuals shouldn't create self-imposed barriers or limitations for potential success;
- Reduced Fear of Failure - forward-progress requires an ability to continue to move forward despite any doubts or worries about an ability to achieve success;
- Ability to Risk Defeat - knowing that failure is a possibility and also being able to accept this reality are powerful tools to pursue goals or objectives without worrying too much about the outcome's success;
- Plant Ideas in the Mind and Wait for Them to Develop - the time that an idea is conceived isn't always the best time to attempt it; therefore, factor timing into any consideration to get started at the moments that will give you the best opportunities for success;
- Act Once the Mind is Dedicated and Not While Time is Allocated - the best time to do something isn't necessarily during the time that's available; instead, focus on a task once your mind is dedicated to it;
- Understand that Perfection Isn't Possible, But Your Best is Achievable - don't focus on doing things perfectly, but instead focus on doing the best you can do at that moment; if your best effort is given every time, then this minimizes the opportunities for disappointments;
- Ability to Stay in the Moment - the past is over, the future hasn't happened, and the only thing that's within your control is the present; therefore, maintain your focus on the current moment, but maintain a long-term perspective;
- Removal of Unnecessary Limitations - children often think about possibilities and adults usually think about limitations; therefore, change your perspective to think about the way things could be versus the way you necessarily want it to be;
- Don't Self-Filter - some of the best concepts are eliminated without testing the ideas; individuals should be prudent with their resources, but should also try to prevent the elimination of ideas prior to testing the concept(s);
- Acceptance that Failure is an Opportunity - each time a failure happens, it's an opportunity to be better the next time; failure is only a destination if you allow yourself to stop after an unsuccessful attempt;
- Don't Let Others' Limitations Stop You - limited thinking leads to limited outcomes; if you believe in positive possibilities, don't let anyone convince you that your considerations aren't achievable without validating for yourself;
- Make Criticism Your Friend - criticism isn't always an enemy --- even if it's not given in the most positive way; therefore, filter the feedback for usefulness to prevent from missing an opportunity that presented itself in a way that didn't meet your needs or expectations;
- Maintain a Positive Focus - any effort worth achieving deserves a positive focus to give it the best chance of success; if you're willing to exert the effort, don't give it anything less than your positive best.
The lists provided aren't absolute ways to be resilient, make forward-progress, or to be successful. However, this information provides a good starting point to begin your quest toward your goals and objectives, which will hopefully lead to your desired outcome.
Enjoy your journey and don't forget to be your best!
Additional information about Mr. Young's journey to overcome his educational challenges can be obtained in his book "Above Expectations - an unlikely journey from almost failing high school to becoming a college professor".
This post originally appeared on S. L. Young's blog on his website.