Derek Redmond was favored to medal in the 400-meter race for the United Kingdom at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. But 150 meters into the semifinal race, he felt a searing pain in his right leg and fell to the ground in agony with a torn hamstring. He was not willing to give up. He wanted to finish the race no matter what. He got up and limped around the track until a man came out of the stands and broke through security to help him. It was his father.
He told his son, “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do,” he told his dad.
And his dad said, “Well then, we’re going to finish this together.”
And they walked together with arms around each other’s shoulders until shortly before the finish line, when his dad let him finish the race alone. Redmond received a standing ovation from the 65,000 people in attendance, including me.
That is what I absolutely love about the Olympic Games — the determination and never-give-up attitudes that these athletes bring to their sports. They demonstrate an amazing resilience that is inspiring. And that is why I’ve only missed one Summer Olympic Games since 1972, in Munich.
We’ve all hit roadblocks and dead ends that can make us think twice about whether it’s worth our efforts. Discouragement and disappointment cloud our judgment. It’s exhausting sometimes trying to figure out how to get past a problem.
So before negative thoughts lead to negative actions, you need to develop a strategy to clear your head. It becomes even more important to train your brain to look for positives.
Researchers believe that people who embrace a positive outlook have less stress, an increased sense of well-being, better coping skills and longer life spans. Do whatever it takes to get to that attitude. Learn to look on the bright side.
Or, to put it simply, in the immortal words of the great philosopher, Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Really, that’s not just a punch line. Keep moving forward. Keep trying. Keep hoping and dreaming and believing you can do it. Be resilient.
Because when you don’t give up, you usually don’t fail.
This is true in life in general and business in particular. Every organization that gets hit with any sort of emergency needs to have people who can respond in a productive and clearheaded manner. Your value to the organization increases exponentially if you are one of those people.
In this ever-changing, fast-paced business climate, resilience is one of the most critical skills you need to master. Clinical psychologist Susan Dunn has observed that people who can bounce back after failure and confront new obstacles without losing their nerve generally do these essential things:
• Learn from experience. Resilient people reflect on what happens to them, good and bad, so they can move forward without illusion.
• Accept setbacks and losses: You’ve got to face the reality of what happens in order to get past it.
• Recognize emotions: Resilient people don’t hide from their feelings. They identify what they’re feeling and express their emotions appropriately.
• Keep time in perspective: Past, present and future are separate. For example, don’t mix them up by letting what happened in the past determine your choices in the here and now.
• Think creatively and flexibly: Look for new ways to solve problems and face challenges.
• Take care of yourself: Resilience is based on good physical and mental health. Get enough rest, eat sensibly and spend time with people who support you.
• Ask for help: Resilient people don’t try to do everything themselves. Accept that you’ll need to ask others for assistance, and learn how to do so graciously and effectively.
The children’s book “The Hugging Tree” tells the story of a little tree growing all alone on a cliff by a vast and mighty sea. Through thundering storms and the cold of winter, the tree holds fast. Sustained by the natural world and the kindness and compassion of one little boy, eventually the tree grows until it can hold and shelter others.
The resilience of the Hugging Tree calls to mind the potential in all of us: to thrive, despite times of struggle and difficulty. To nurture the little spark of hope and resolve. To dream and to grow.
Mackay’s Moral: When the wicked winds blow, learn to bend, not break.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.