virgin islands scene

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche


The MONTHLY Motivator - March 2003

Moving on ahead

You’ve had a setback. You’ve been disappointed. Things haven’t gone the way you intended. Things haven’t gone a way you planned. What’s the best thing for you to do?

Does it make sense to sit around and feel sorry for yourself? Are you going to let that one disappointment build on itself and take over your life? Or, will you quickly get back on track, back to what you were doing, and move on ahead past the disappointment?

The difference between those who consistently achieve and those who can’t ever seem to make any progress is not in how many times they get knocked down, but in how quickly they recover.

Everyone gets knocked down. Even when you give it your best shot you can be defeated. Every person who is successful has also tasted defeat. Even those people whom we consider highly effective have regular and significant setbacks. In fact, the most highly accomplished people generally experience more disappointments than others, precisely because they are attempting so much. If you are not experiencing setbacks on a regular basis, you are probably not even coming close to making the most of your possibilities, and not even coming close to reaching your full potential.

The biggest winners in life are most often those who have also known the greatest number of disappointments. What makes a winner a winner is the ability to quickly get back in the game, no matter what the setback, no matter what the disappointment.

That’s easy to understand. It’s easy to say. Yet when you are in the midst of defeat it can indeed be difficult to imagine yourself getting back up and moving quickly and enthusiastically ahead. Disappointment can bring with it a powerful negative momentum that it is, admittedly, difficult to overcome. It hurts when you’ve had a setback. It’s no fun. And often the last thing you want to think about is getting back in the game, and putting yourself in a position where there is the possibility for another painful disappointment. Yet getting back on track is the best thing you can do. That’s what will ease the pain more quickly than anything else.

Yes, it will take some effort. It’s well worth the effort, though, because what you’re doing is transforming defeat into victory. What you’re doing is proving to yourself that you can turn every situation into an opportunity for success. Once you realize you can do that, once you’re confident in your ability to do that, the possibilities are virtually unlimited.

When you’re confronted with a disappointment, the first step is to truly experience it. Things haven’t gone your way and you have reason to be disappointed. Allow yourself to fully feel that disappointment, to fully feel that despair. Really experience what it’s like. This will do a couple of things for you.

First, it brings your negative feelings out into the open where you can acknowledge them and deal with them. That’s a lot better than keeping them hidden away where they can grow stronger and where they have the potential to pop up and take you down at any time. In many ways it can be positive to experience negative feelings. They can help to give you a firmer grasp on reality. They can be a powerful teacher. But you don’t want to allow them to build up inside you. You’ve got to get them out and acknowledge them so you can then be free to move positively forward.

Another benefit of fully experiencing your disappointments is that they can motivate you in a more positive direction. When you really know how miserable it feels to lose, that will greatly strengthen your desire to win. Bringing your disappointments out in the open puts you in control. Those disappointments no longer control you. You have taken control, and that is an important first step in turning defeat into victory.

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--Ralph Marston

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