“Every result you get in your life is the combination of the challenge you receive from the reality around you and your capacity to respond to that challenge.” ~Fred Kofman
We discussed previously how success is determined not by the opportunities you are presented with, but how you respond to those opportunities. This quote goes hand in hand with that.
This quote, I believe, takes it one step further, though. It’s easy to say you’ll think positively and take advantage of every situation. But if you’re not properly equipped to take advantage of that opportunity — if you don’t have the “capacity to respond” — you may still fail. That is why you must equip yourself — with not only a positive attitude, but also the tools, skills, and ability to succeed. Learn all you can about the changes you want to make and where you want to end up. Get the experiences you need, the support system to help you, and the resources available at a moment’s notice.
Life is full of challenges, but if you’re able to respond with skill and ambition, you can turn those challenges into opportunities. Having the tools in place to take advantage of what life throws at you can ensure that when that challenge — that opportunity — appears, you’re ready to tackle it.
“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities, and make the most of one’s resources.” ~Vauvenargues
The advice in this quote is twofold: take advantage of opportunities, and make the most of your resources. Let’s look at each of them:
By realizing an opportunity when it presents itself, you’re acknowledging the potential to succeed. Take full advantage of that opportunity, and you’re bound to be successful. It isn’t just a question of seeing a possible opportunity; it’s about grabbing that opportunity by the horns and making it work for you.
How do you make it work for you? By using any resources you have at your disposal. Your skills and talents, your knowledge base, your network of friends, family, and colleagues: all will help you get where you want to go, and seeing these resources for what they are can help you make the most of opportunities as they become available.
Do that, and you just may reach your goals before you thought. Wouldn’t that be nice?
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.” ~William Ernest Henley
Simply put, we have control over our own lives. Regardless of what gets thrown at us, it’s up to us to interpret what has happened, determine our reaction to it, and then act as we deem appropriate. Depending on how we decide to act, our lives can go in very different directions.
That is why despite setbacks we are still able to succeed. Everyone has bad stuff happen. Everyone has to deal with disappointment, frustration, and tragedy. And yet many are still able to succeed. Many are still able to excel. At the same time, others let the experiences weigh on them, festering and multiplying. The moral? It’s not the experiences that determine how we end up. It is how we act that determines if these experiences will keep us down or offer opportunity for improvement. Will we rise to the challenge or let them sink us?
“You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life — so that even if it were over tomorrow, you’d be content with yourself.” ~Jane Seymour
I love this concept, but it’s definitely easier said than done. Bills get in the way, obligations pop up, and it’s easy to put off the things we want or are meant to do. Dreams get brushed aside. Life becomes more about what we have to do, even if it holds no real meaning for us.
That’s why it’s so important to take charge of your life now, instead of waiting. No one knows how much time they have. And even if you did, wouldn’t it be better to enjoy your life? I’d like to think that when my team has come, I had reached my potential. That I had led a fulfilling, satisfying life. Heck, at the end of each day I’d like to think I had a day I could be proud of.
Now I’m not saying to ignore those things that have to get done. I certainly can’t. But if we can somehow find a balance, so that we can be happy with the results of each day and each week and each month, then perhaps we can really start to feel good about our lives. And that’s what it’s really all about.
“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt.” ~Rollo May
I’d like to think this quote is true — simply because it means there’s still hope for me when I doubt myself!
If you have doubts but still feel strongly enough to continue, you must have some kind of commitment to what you’re hoping to accomplish. You acknowledge that even if you aren’t sure you’ll succeed, it’s important for you to continue on your path. You hope you can succeed, but it is by no means certain.
Proceeding without doubts may even means that you aren’t committed. Perhaps you’re proceeding simply because you know you can. It doesn’t mean you feel strongly about what you’re trying to accomplish; it simply means you are capable of proceeding and succeeding.
Having doubts doesn’t mean you aren’t committed to your goals or your dreams. Your actions determine your commitment. If you can proceed despite having doubts about your success, you can even consider yourself stronger for having done so.
“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.” ~Michael F. Staley
Ain’t that the truth! When I started this blog, I had already been on the path to improving myself for a while. But in all the time before this blog, and all the time since I started it, the challenge hasn’t lessened. If anything it’s grown greater. As I strive for my goals and long to make my life what I want it to be, I find the journey to be riddled with challenges. There are always worries to overcome, and bills to pay, and things to do. But that ultimate goal of improving myself and becoming the person I want to be — well, that’s the hardest part of all.
Earlier I discussed how easy it was to plan out what I was going to do. I could come up with to do lists and action plans and schedules. But taking that leap and actually doing something that would improve my life has proven to be more difficult. And I think that makes it so difficult is the self-doubt. We put ourselves last so often that it’s hard to put ourselves first. What makes us think we’re worth it? Why won’t we fail? What’s the point?
And yet as we struggle with this greatest challenge of all, a little voice in the back of our minds pushes us forward with five little words: “it’ll all be worth it.” So despite the challenge, we persevere. And the challenge will be overcome. It won’t be an easy path, but the destination will be worth it.
“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” ~Oprah Winfrey
It can be difficult when you’re struggling to not just wish you could skip ahead to the end. But when it comes to reaching your goals, the journey is just as important as the end result, if not more so. Along the way you grow and learn and become a stronger person. What has brought you to this point, and the places you’re heading toward in the future, is the path. Realizing your dream without struggling to achieve it won’t have nearly as much significance for you as fighting for it every step of the way will.
And, as indicated in the quote above, if you look at things in this way, the small victories and mini goals you accomplish along the way become more meaningful. As you’re fighting and struggling to realize your dream, you gain appreciation for the process, and for what you ultimately achieve. You can see the entire process as a success, not just the ultimate goal you’re striving for. This is why it’s important to celebrate the small victories. Those milestones and happy moments can be more than just steps in the right direction. They can be reasons to celebrate in their own right.
Celebrate the process, not just the goal.
“I’ve often thought that when something is hard for you, whether it’s going to law school or anything else that challenges you, that’s probably what you should do.” ~ Hillary Rodham Clinton
Earlier I discussed how difficult it can be to get motivated to move past planning and take concrete action toward your goals. If it’s so difficult, why persevere? Why not throw in the towel and move onto something easier? The above quote pretty much sums it up.
Those things in life that prove to be the most challenging are often also the most rewarding. Why push through in your goals? cause you know the end result will be worth it. And the journey to get there will likely be worth it, as well. Not only will you be gaining what you want; you’ll also be learning about yourself in the process. The skills and knowledge that you gain while pushing through will prove useful many times over. And you’ll be a stronger person for having gone through the experience.
Tasks that we find easy, that don’t challenge us, don’t teach us anything. We may think that they benefit us, but it is not until we are challenged that we grow. Would you rather grow stronger or remain stagnant?
“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where they are had to begin where they were.” ~Richard L. Evans
We all come into this world the same way: naked with nothing. Now, given, some of us have some advantages that soon become apparent: money, brains, looks. These advantages can make it easier to succeed in life. But despite advantages, however abundant they may seem, everyone has to build themselves up from this initial, naked beginning. Will we end up how we started? Or will we take whatever advantages we may have, build our resolve, and make something of ourselves?
Regardless of whatever advantages you may or may not have, life happens. I’ve said it before: Things get in the way. Plans don’t work out the way we’d like them to. Our goals seem too far out of reach to be achievable. As easy as it can be to let these disappointments bring us down, it can be helpful to think that all of the people we look up to — all the people we admire for having done great things — have had to deal with the same stuff. They had to make the decision to rise past it, to build themselves up beyond the hardships of life to become successful. They all started the same as we did: staring a difficult future in the face, having to make the decision to succumb to it or rise above it.
Will you let life get the better of you, or will you rise to the occasion?
Louis D. Brandeis said “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”
For someone to want to do something that’s been described as “impossible,” he or she must really have the drive to succeed. He or she is fighting against the rest of society, perhaps even those closest to him or her. But proving them wrong — and accomplishing that goal — can be fulfilling, satisfying, and worthwhile. And the end result can be more powerful than with any more “possible” task.
I have struggled with some of my goals. But if it looks like a goal may be impossible, perhaps I can use that as fuel for the fire. Perhaps trying to prove that it is possible will give me the necessary push to really make it happen. I’d like to think so, anyway. And my goal is definitely worthwhile, at least to me.
Whenever you feel discouraged in your goal, it may be helpful to think of this quote. If you think about it, it really is true. Inventions, discoveries, monumental tasks — many deemed impossible, some shortly before success — have really pushed society forward. They’ve changed our lives. And as long as you believe in yourself and your goals, nothing is truly impossible.