“The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated. It is finished when it surrenders.”
Ben Stein, professor and author
Economic collapse. Terrorism. Global warming. The news seems to be filled with events that threaten life as we know it. Indeed, some of the headlines talk about things that could end life itself. Very scary.
On a smaller scale, we are all faced with problems at work and at home. And some of those problems threaten our happiness or success.
But that’s the way it’s always been and always will be. Life is a mixture of good times and bad times.
The incredible thing is some people and some businesses do well … no matter what the times are like. Some businesses keep on growing, while others in the same industry file bankruptcy. Some salespeople keep on selling their goods and services, while other salespeople can’t give their stuff away. And some leaders keep on getting peak performance from their employees, while other leaders can’t even hold on to their employees.
So what makes the difference? What characterizes the winners? And what separates them from the losers? I’ve found several things … all of which I teach in the “Journey To The Extraordinary.” But here are three things to get you started.
=> 1. Winners take personal responsibility for PREPARATION.
In other words, winners go out and get the right attitudes, skills and classes … BEFORE they need them. They prepare themselves for the tough times … BEFORE the tough times come.
And that’s pretty much the way Olympic athletes do it. Take Rulon Gardner, for example. He was the wrestler who won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. But how he did it was even more amazing.
Gardner beat the great Russian, Aleksandr Karelin, who hadn’t lost in 13 years. In fact, he hadn’t even been scored on in 10 years.
So how did Gardner do it? He took personal responsibility for his grueling preparation. He’d wrestle the best wrestlers in the country for a minute each, facing one immediately after another. He’d do this for 10 to 15 minutes at a time with no breaks.
A typical wrestling match is three, three-minute periods with a much needed breather in between. But Gardner’s training was akin to running a 200-yard sprint up a steep hill, full speed, wearing a harness with someone behind him trying to hold him back … and then trying to swim a 100 yards with weights strapped to his back with someone holding his legs.
Gardner said this “over-training helped him the most when he needed it the most … in the last seconds of the match against the Russian. With both of them dead tired in the final seconds of the final period, Gardner broke from the hold Karelin had on him to score a point.
Final score: Gardner 1. Karelin 0. The gold medal went to Gardner in the year 2000. And Gardner’s win ranks as one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
What about you? Do you take personal responsibility for getting yourself trained … BEFORE the problems inevitably hit your business, your job, life, or marriage? Or do you wait for the problems to come … and then wonder how you’re going to handle them?
To be on the winning side, to take responsibility for your own growth and development, I unequivocally recommend my 6-pack CD album entitled “Take Charge: 6 Strategies For Achieving More Than Ever.”
Listen to Rhonda Rafferty of Rafferty Fine Grading. Rhonda writes, “I picked up your Take Charge CD album at the convention, and I can’t believe the major difference it’s made in my life. Just to give you one example, I recently decided to quit smoking. I’ve used cigarettes as my stress reliever … at least that was my excuse for not quitting. I decided to quit even though my stress level was at an all time high. Using one of the techniques you talked about on the CDs, I told myself ‘I feel great being smoke free … I can get through each craving and be smoke free … and … I love being smoke free.’ This simple tactic helped me break the habit as well as maintain a positive attitude. When I get cranky, I’m handling it much differently than in the past. Thanks for such a helpful CD library. I’m now taking responsibility for my actions. “
It all comes down to personal responsibility. Are you doing what you can to get the training you need, or are you waiting for your company or manager to give you the training? Winners never wait.
=> 2. Winners take personal responsibility for OVERCOMING SETBACKS.
Gardner continued to take responsibility even after he won the gold medal. Lesser folks would have sat back on their laurels and thought there was no need to go on to any other Olympic challenges.
But not Gardner. He returned to the 2004 Athens Olympics to pick up a bronze medal … instead of a gold. The critics thought he should have left well enough alone … but the critics were shallow people … who didn’t know the rest of the story. They didn’t know what a HUGE victory the bronze represented.
Some months before the Olympics, Gardner was snowmobiling in Utah. He got lost, plunged into a half-frozen slushy river, and when he tried to walk his way back to safety, the four feet snow swallowed his legs with each laborious step.
Exhausted, with his clothes soaking wet, he decided to wait it out. The temperature dropped to 25 degrees below zero that night. He nodded off repeatedly, battling sleep, knowing that a long sleep would mean certain death. But Gardner was determined to stay awake, to hang on … even though every nerve in his body ached for sleep. Gardner refused to give up.
Some 17 hours later he was rescued. His body temperature was 88 degrees. He could no longer feel his frozen feet. And the doctors had to cut off his boots … only to find his frozen feet, wooden to the touch … just like his frost bitten hands. The doctors thought his hands and feet wouldn’t make it, and they gave him little hope of ever walking or performing everyday routine tasks again. Wrestling was certainly never going to happen again.
But Gardner thought otherwise … even though they had to amputate one toe. And amazingly enough, Gardner came back to win the bronze despite his setback.
Could the same be said of you? Do you let setbacks kill off your dreams and snuff out your motivation? Or do you refuse to let your setbacks have the last word?
As strange as it may seem, your setbacks can be a blessing in disguise. As Helen Keller noted, “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there was no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” Simply put, victories that come too easily are seldom savored.
=> 3. Winners take personal responsibility INSTEAD OF TAKING HANDOUTS.
You see … some losers believe they are “entitled” to success, wealth, happiness, and position. So they wait to be recognized, promoted, and loved.
Other losers believe they “deserve” a free ride. They think, just because they have wealthy parents … they themselves ought to be automatically wealthy. They “deserve” the best of everything.
Indeed, as philosopher Jim Rohn says, “It’s too bad losers or failures don’t give seminars. Wouldn’t that be valuable?” We could sit back and say, ‘Pete … Henry … Mary … Jessica, you’ve screwed up your life for forty years. If I bring a notepad, and promise to take good notes, would you spend a day with me? Would you teach me all the things NOT to do?’”
By contrast, winners seldom think about being “entitled to” or “deserving of” the prizes in life … without working for them. Winners adhere to Winston Churchill’s admonition, that “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Winners know they would miss out on the real joy in life if things were just handed to them. They would miss out on the opportunities to grow, learn, contribute, and serve.
That’s why the legendary sales trainer Tom Hopkins says, “Every dollar you earn is worth ten given to you. Earned money creates the self-image of self-reliance; given money creates the self-image of other-dependence.”
In fact, we’re designed with this internal desire to learn, master, and conquer. That’s why little kids say … with great pride … when they dress themselves, tie a shoe, or cut their own meat … “I did it myself.”
And yet misguided parents jump in and say, “Here, let me do that for you.” They don’t want to see their kids struggle. But by jumping in to help, these same well-intentioned parents rob their kids of any chance they might have to learn the art of personal responsibility.
What about you? Are you taking personal responsibility for all parts of your life at home and on the job? Are you taking responsibility for getting ahead or making things better? Or are you waiting for good things to simply happen … for lightening to strike … or for your ship to come in?
Well, chances are, if you’re not taking responsibility, you’ll never see most of your dreams come true.
Action: What are 3 things you need to take responsibility for … starting right now?