How to Survive Difficult Times: Goals, Courage and Resilience

by marilyn on October 17, 2008

These are no doubt difficult times. What does it take to succeed despite all the financial doom and gloom around us? Great men and women – particularly those who overcome adversity – seem to have the ability to access, maintain, and recover their most resourceful state on a consistent basis.

What motivated Ghandi and Martin Luther King? What enabled Nelson Mandela to survive 17 years in prison and emerge without anger or hatred? What drives the ability for one to access his or her most resourceful state? The answer, history tells us, is simple, yet difficult to achieve: having a positive vision bigger than themselves.

George Bernard Shaw wrote: “Life is no brief candle to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

So, what exactly is the role of having something to focus on that is bigger than ourselves – something that connects us to some of the commonly shared significant human values of love, contribution, and making a difference for others?

Blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, profiled in the May, 2004 edition of Fast Company magazine and author of The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness with Paul Stoltz (forward by Stephen Covey) successfully climbed Mt. Everest for the first time under the guidance of Best Year Yet trainer and climbing coach, Michael O’Donnell. Today, Erik still climbs 50 days a year but also talks to corporate America about “seeing” the world in different ways.” Where most people say, “seeing is believing,” Erik looks for those who believe “Believing is seeing.”

Erik’s expedition, in which the Best Year Yet program we like so much was used, has been considered one of the most successful Everest climbs ever. It also included a father-son team (a 64-year-old and his teenage son). All of the top goals were achieved, the top three being:

  1. Come back alive.
  2. Climb the mountain.
  3. Stay focused.

In addition, an amazing 19 members of the team made it to the top (usually only a handful summit), and everyone returned without any serious health problems.

Not only did Erik accomplish a personal victory but he also inspired others to do the same. Were that not enough, he saw the need to bring the message to others. When asked why he climbs, we learn a lot about the source of Erik’s strength and determination: He loves adventure and figuring things out, and strategically surrounding himself with good people who make him stronger. Of the Best Year Yet process, he says, “It is a truly wonderful, powerful and effective tool that can increase anyone’s level of satisfaction and awareness of what they truly want and what they get out of their life.”

We may not all have it in us to achieve such a monumental feat but it probably is accurate to say many people are challenged in all sort of ways these days that are our own Everests and require tremendous resilience. Action consistent with who you are is what counts. It is critical to have the right mindset as well . . . and a good plan never hurts!

© 2004, Updated 2008, OnTrack Coaching & Consulting, Inc.

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