Stumblers who “give up” are a dime a dozen, but stumblers who “get up” are as rare as rubies.
We’re all going to stumble from time to time. That’s a given. And it’s not that big of a deal.
It’s much more important to focus on the “what” and the “how.” “What” are you going to do when you stumble? And “how” are you going to respond?
To move beyond the stumbles in your life, I would suggest the following.
1. LET GO OF THE PAST.
Emerson said it best. He said, “That which lies behind me and that which lies ahead of me are but tiny matters to that which lies within me.”
Unfortunately, all too many people crucify themselves between two thieves — regret for the past and fear for the future. And as a result, they are immobilized in the present. When they stumble and fall, they stay down.
When you stumble, you’ve got to let go of it. It’s a part of your past. It has passed. So it’s decision time. Will you let the stumble be your reason for quitting, or will you let your stumble be your catalyst for action?
I think too many people refuse to let go — just like those monkeys in Africa. Perhaps you know about them.
There’s a certain breed of monkey that is quite easily captured. All the captors have to do is stake a long, narrow-necked bottle to the floor of the jungle. In the bottle are a few choice nuts.
When the monkey comes along and smells the nuts, he thrusts his hand into the bottle. He grabs a fist full of nuts, but he can no longer get his hand out of the bottle. It’s too big for the narrow-necked bottle. He’ll try and try, but he’s stuck there — all because he won’t let go.
People act very much the same way. They’re often stuck because they won’t let go of the past. And then they wonder why their jobs or their lives aren’t working.
It’s like the story from Darlington, South Carolina. A mother with eight children had to do a brief errand, so she instructed her children to stand in a circle, hold hands, and not move. She would be right back.
Five minutes later the mother returned. She was horrified to see that a family of skunks had come into the room and settled down inside the circle of kids. But the poor kids didn’t move, as instructed. Mom panicked and shouted, “Children. Skunks, Run.” Immediately each kid picked up a skunk and ran.
In a similar sense, people pick up the skunks of their life in the past. They carry them around, and they say, “Life stinks, doesn’t it?”
Well it’s no wonder their lives stink. Look at what they’re holding on to. They’re holding on to the past. They’ve got to let go of it.
2. FACE THE FUTURE WITH CONFIDENCE.
All too often, when people stumble, they get frightened. They’re afraid of a repeat performance, and so they’re afraid of the future. They simply don’t believe in themselves — or they don’t believe in themselves enough.
That’s why Dr. Maxwell Maltz said 95% of our problems stem from a low self-image. If on the other hand, you change the self-image, or you raise your self-esteem, your performance and results go up accordingly.
I’ll sometimes ask my audience if they are born winners. I’ll get a few raised hands. But then I go on to tell them I can prove it — somewhat whimsically.
I’ll ask them to think in their minds to a long time ago, when they were five, when they were three, when they were born, even before they were born. I ask them to think back to when they were nothing but a sperm cell. Of course they laugh.
But I go on to tell them when they were a mere sperm, there were 180 million other sperms with them. They all had to race down this long dark tunnel towards this one egg — and they got there first. They won the race.
Then I’ll ask the audience again, “How many born winners are in here now?” I get a lot more hands. And that’s great — because I tell them they will never face odds like that again the rest of their lives.
You’ve got to face the future with confidence — because your outlook determines your outcome. If you’ve got a gloomy expectation of the future, you’re more likely to get it. And if you’ve got a brighter expectation of the future, you’re more likely to get that result.
Take the Olympics, for example. Back in the 1950’s, it was thought that a woman could not run a mile. It was impossible. And so they weren’t allowed to do it or compete.
Not until 1984 was there an Olympic marathon event for women. Before that, a 26-mile run for a woman was almost unheard of.
Then came Joan Benoit, a little woman from Maine. She entered the race. But 17 days before the contest, she underwent emergency arthroscopic knee surgery. She wasn’t able to practice at all the last 2-1/2 weeks before the race.
Nonetheless, she showed up for the event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. She took off, like the other runners, but at the 2-mile mark she sped up ahead of the pack. She started her lead and continued to lengthen it.
At the halfway point, she had a one-minute lead — which is, normally, running suicide. Everyone “knew” she couldn’t possibly keep up the pace, that she would burn out and be overtaken by the other runners. At the 20-mile mark, Jane had a minute-and-a-half lead — which she kept — and came in first, getting the gold medal.
When she was interviewed after the race, she said it was a fairly easy race. She said she knew that no one would stay with her. They would all think she was running too fast, and it was too hot. They would all think that she was crazy, that she would never make it to the end. At that point, she said, she knew she had them.
And how did she do it? Joan Benoit talked about the 17 days she couldn’t practice. She said she visualized the race every day. She thought about how she would do it. She built up her confidence. And she faced her future with confidence.
You’re going to stumble. That’s a given. But if you let go of the past and face the future with confidence, you’ll do all right.
Action: Take a look at the things in your past that are holding you back. It may be a previous marriage, a lost job, a lack of education, or any number of things. Write them down.
Then one by one, begin to remove or neutralize the power of the past. Let it go–by commanding them to go. Say something like, “Old job of the past, you no longer have power over me. I refuse to put myself down over a mistake I made long ago. Go. Be gone.” Repeat statements like that, several times a day for several days, and you’ll feel the grinding grip of the past goes away.