We tend to frame the idea of “success” as the absence of failure but that is often not the case. The true measure of success is the ability to adapt to one’s present circumstances. It is the culmination of our knowledge, skills, effort, patience, and previous failures that guide and mold us into achieving our present and future goals.
How: Csikszentmihalyi (2008) put it succinctly when he wrote:
A major catastrophe that frustrates a central goal of life will either destroy the self, forcing a person to use all his psychic energy to erect a barrier around remaining goals, defending them against further onslaughts of fate; or it will provide a new, clearer, and more urgent goal: to overcome the challenges created by the defeat (207).
The author means that we are faced with two choices when adversity hits us: use all our energy to hold onto the current objectives or adapt to what life brings us and create different goals to rise above the difficulties. The aftermath of the latter may force us down a path that we may have never seen or were open to before.
To succeed in becoming our ideal selves, we have to persevere through the tough times. The ability to do so is called resiliency which is the measure of how well we bounce back from life’s daily pressures (taking care of children, work, mild-moderate illnesses, etc.) and major stressors (divorce, losing a job, a loved one passing away, etc.).
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the most tragic events that have occurred in our lives can also have a profoundly positive impact on us in a phenomenon called “post-traumatic growth”. Posttraumatic growth refers to the positive changes that a person may experience following a life-altering trauma or stressor…the positive changes typically fall into three categories: altered perceptions of the self, relationships, and life philosophies (Linley & Joseph, 2009). In other words, “pain is inevitable but how we react to it is not. Although we can succumb to the anguish, hopelessness, and desperation that pain brings, it can also push us to discover our truest potential and limits” (Motio Fitness & Nutrition, 2014).
Thoughts for the Week
Think of the greatest accomplishment you have ever achieved. Write a story about the life events that led you to achieve that success. What was your mindset? How could you apply it to your current goals and success? If you would like to chat with one of our coaches email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.