Believe in yourself even when no one else does

954 reads

Life is not a parabolic curve.  It doesn't go straight up.  There are a lot of lumps, a lot of bumps.  I have never yet met a successful person that hasn't had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.  Overnight success is much more of a myth than reality.

Remember the four-minute mile?  Humans had been trying to do it for centuries, since the days of the ancient Greeks.  They found the old records, how the Greeks tried to accomplish this.  They had wild animals chase the runners, hoping that would make them run faster.  They tried tiger's milk, not the stuff you get down at the supermarket.  I'm talking about the real thing.  Nothing worked.  

So, the experts decided it was physiologically impossible for a human being to run a mile in four minutes.  Our bone structure is all wrong.  Our wind resistance is too great.  Humans have inadequate lung power.  There were a million reasons - until one day when one human being proved the doctors, the trainers and the athletes all wrong.  

In 1954, Roger Bannister showed the world that it could be done.  Over the next few years, more and more people broke the four-minute mile once they realized that yes, it was possible.

When Bannister passed away in early March of this year, it brought back a lot of memories from that time in history that I remember so well.  

The world was changing a great deal.  People around the world were overcoming the long-perceived physical boundaries of nature.  American pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947.  And who can forget Sir Edmond Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay conquering Mount Everest in 1953.

Many famous people have overcome tremendous adversity to triumph:

  • Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world, dropped out of school and had his first business fail.
  • Oprah Winfrey overcame terrible poverty growing up in rural Mississippi to become a billionaire media mogul who has inspired millions around the world.
  • Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four years old and couldn't get a job in physics for two years after graduation.  
  • Richard Branson didn't let his dyslexia stop him from founding Virgin Group and controlling more than 400 companies.
  • Popular recording star Jay-Z came from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood but couldn't get signed to any record labels as a rapper.  In 2013, "Time Magazine," ranked him as one of the most influential people in the world.
  • Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest painters of all time, yet he only sold one painting during his lifetime.
  • Simon Cowell, star judge from "American Idol" and "The X Factor" had a record company fail.

Botanists say trees need the powerful March winds to flex their trunks and main branches, so that the sap is drawn up to nourish the budding leaves.  Perhaps people need to meet the stresses of life in the same way, though we dislike enduring them.  A stormy period in our lives can be a prelude to a new spring of life and health, success and happiness.  That is if we keep our self-confidence and faith in the future.

Everyone faces adversity, pain, loss and suffering in life.  When you go through those periods, it's hard to remember that the emotions you're feeling are only temporary.  The best thing to do is to develop a plan for what you will do when these times hit and find your way to the silver lining - the place where you can feel hopeful again.

You need a personal sense of commitment, the ability to let go when appropriate, and strong values.  Take charge of the things you can control, such as your treatment of others, the way you spend your time outside of work, how you think about yourself, how often you exercise, when and how to share your feelings, how to let others know you're stressed and how mature you act.

Who says that you can't accomplish your goals?  Who says that you're not tougher and better and smarter and harder working and more able than your competition?  It doesn't matter if they say you can't do it.  The only thing that matters is if you say it.  So, we all know, if we believe in ourselves, there's hardly anything that we can't accomplish.

Mackay's Moral:  How you handle adversity says a lot about how you will handle success.


misner's picture

Dude, Where are my Wheels? Why Networking Helps – Even in the “Hood”

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around.  I was regaling my wife with a story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college.  At the end of the story she said, “you have to
Harvey Mackay's picture

Resourcefulness = “Of Coursefulness”

A firm needed a researcher. Applicants were a scientist, an engineer and an economist. Each was given a stone, a piece of string and a stopwatch and told to determine a certain building’s height. The scientist went to the rooftop, tied the stone to
johnsullivan's picture

Sourcing Is the New Recruiting

I have some excellent news for you. Sourcing is the place to be in talent acquisition today! Recruiting as it has traditionally been known is going away. Increasingly companies are adopting recruitment process automation, and that means that there
harvardbusinessreview's picture

How to Prepare for a Panel

Make sure to connect with the moderator beforehand.
johnsullivan's picture

HR Roundtable: The Value of a Multi-Generational Workforce

In the classic rock anthem My Generation by The Who, lead singer Roger Daltrey screams, “I hope I die before I get old.” He echoed a sentiment of the times, but he never knew that he was also doing what...
adamgrant's picture

Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions

Here’s a work scenario many of us know too well: You are in a meeting and your manager brings up a project that needs to be assigned. It’s not particularly challenging work, but it’s time-consuming, unlikely to drive revenue, and probably won’t be
johnsullivan's picture

How Personas Change Sourcing Outcomes

It’s really intimidating to walk into a room full of people you don’t know. We’ve all had that moment of panic, scanning the room for any semi-familiar face and praying it’ll work. Just one person. I personally hate that feeling....
misner's picture

Body Language When Networking

Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first fewminutes of meeting you.  I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the
adamgrant's picture

This 4-Day Work Week Experiment Went So Well, the Company is Keeping It

A first-of-its-kind four-day work week experiment in New Zealand has come to an end after two months, but the trial went so well the company actually wants to make the changes permanent.While lots of research has shown the numerous benefits a