People Power: Is it time to reinvent yourself? - Feb 2021
By Sam Allman
You can fail your way to success. You just have to pick yourself up and keep going when it happens. A fail is not true failure until you quit. Being persistent in any quest or endeavor is essential. Consider Calvin Coolidge’s classic quote, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press on!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
THE POWER OF PERSISTANCE
Some of our journeys are more arduous than others. And we need persistence in order to survive. From the day we were born, persistence was required. Our persistent cries got us fed and changed. Learning, the greatest challenge of youth, takes time and, especially, persistence. How long did it take you to learn to walk? How many times did you fall and get up again? Learning is forever and takes time. Lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success, but painful and demanding persistent practice and hard work are crucial.
I have struggled with persistence. It takes a strong will to continue when something is hard and it seems the forces of nature are against you. As humans, we need encouragement and inspiration to bolster our wills to persist when persisting is hard. As the saying goes, “All things are difficult before they are easy.” “Easy” is earned-earned by persistence and will. It’s not the will to succeed that counts, but the will to continue through difficulties that does. Because of our independent will, we can choose to be persistent or choose to be lazy. Lazy is easier. But there is another alternative.
People power requires persistence, but paradoxically, those with that power know when it’s time to quit, stop or give up their dream, goal or quest. Though I have made a strong case for persistence, just pressing on may not always be the most effective strategy. As Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” We must always seek to know and understand when failure is inevitable, our quest is impossible, or it is time to change directions. We must be careful to differentiate between a difficult goal and an impossible one. The million-dollar question: which is which?
Effective persistence requires resilience, flexibility and a learning mind-set. (See “Our Changing World Demands Resilience”)
My belief is we are supposed to have joy. That joy is a fruit of discovering our purpose and passions, expanding our gifts and talents, and becoming the best we can be. Our purpose is to find a way to “make a dent” and leave evidence that the world is better because we were here-a legacy. Psychologically, we need to feel we made a difference somehow, somewhere or to someone. We can do more than just survive, though at times that may be our only choice. Life is not static; it is dynamic. As we grow and learn what works for us, we can change and evolve.
Therefore, there will be times when we realize our desired outcomes are not what we really want or that they are clearly unattainable. There will always be times in our lives when we feel stuck and need to stop doing what we are doing and quit persisting with our current goals. That’s when we need to learn how to reinvent ourselves. Reinvent. Change. Transform. Make different. Modify. Adjust. Shift. Evolve. Produce something new that is based on something that already exists.
It may be necessary for you to reinvent when you experience a failure or a big change, such as leaving a job, ending a relationship, moving to a new home or losing a loved one. You may need to find new ways of thinking or doing, or you may risk failing or getting stuck. As a wise person said, “Each story has an ending … but sometimes endings are just a new beginning.” Reinvention starts a new beginning and creates a different outcome or ending. You may be stuck and in need of reinvention if you are feeling unfulfilled, unhappy, unchallenged, bored, tired, out control, or feeling a general malaise about whether your life is working for you.
I felt all of those emotions when I left my flooring business and became a flooring territory manager. Making that change invigorated my life and relationships. I never regretted opening that business. That decision was cathartic for me.
Here are some suggestions to help you:
Reflect. Self-reinvention happens from the inside out as you realign your life with your values, dreams, and priorities. Find some solitude and do some introspection. “Man, know thyself,” says the Greek proverb. Take notes.
Clarify your values. What’s important to you? Once you’ve clarified your values and you know what you are about, you have created your criteria for making decisions. When your daily activities are consistent with those values, you will feel less conflict and more inner peace. Fact: To the extent that you give up on your values in order to please others, gain material possessions, earn acceptance or approval, or avoid conflict, you work against yourself and undermine your personal sense of harmony.
Reiterate your strengths and weakness. Cluelessness is the major cause of failure. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will give insight on where to focus your efforts and where to seek help. Research confirms that practicing and improving natural talents and personal strengths can create cathartic moments where one loses track of time, is totally focused and engaged in the moment, and is experiencing natural highs. We are happiest when we do what we love.
However, knowing weaknesses is also important because we are usually the cause of our own problems. We shoot ourselves in the foot, either because of our bad habits or our ignorance. Generally, it is more beneficial to work on talents and strengths, but creating better habits and eliminating acts of self-sabotage can be very effective in preventing failure and paralysis.
Plan. We have a deep psychological need to exercise our free will by feeling in control of our lives. Ironically, we can’t control very much, especially others. We have to play the cards that we are dealt. As I have written before, we can only control our response to those cards. We can exercise our will by choosing the “how,” by which we will live (living by our core values and personal standards) as well as the paths we choose to walk by setting goals, creating action plans and executing those plans. By doing that, we are somewhat controlling and creating our futures.
On a personal note, I will be 76 this month. My life, probably like yours, has not always been easy. I have had my share of failures and disappointments, but I have few regrets. The reason: I have been an avid goal setter and planner since I was 19 years old. These two things have made the biggest difference in my life. Virtually every goal I ever set has come to fruition (though not exactly as I anticipated). Whenever I want something or want to do something, my wife will say, “Set a goal!” She knows if I do that, it will most likely happen. Goal-setting gives one direction, keeps one focused, eliminates distractions and minimizes regrets. As the saying goes, “Years from now, you will regret more the things you didn’t do than the ones you did.”
Brainstorm. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What would you want or do if money were not an issue? What things are you doing when you lose track of time? Who would you be if you did know who you were? What one thing could you do to make the greatest difference in your life right now? What are your three greatest desires?
I learned from a psychologist more than 50 years ago to write my goals on 3”x5” cards; write them as affirmations; post them where they can be seen and be reminded of them daily; and practice visualizing them coming to fruition. All I can say is the process works; it creates focus, eliminates distractions, facilitates creativity, energizes action and enlivens the soul.
Be careful not to have too many goals at one time. Too many can overwhelm and paralyze. Be sure to choose goals that will give you balance in the key areas of your life: your mind, your body, your relationships, your spirit, your career and your finances. Set your goals, even if you have no clue how you will accomplish them. Once your mind can see the clear outcome (you have been visualizing that outcome), your subconscious will go to work generating ideas. Those will come to you when you are sleeping or doing other things. Your mind will give you the “how” if you can be very clear with the “what.” That’s why it’s called vision: the clearest possible picture of a future desired result. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Without vision, the people perish.”
Research and experiment. Since your mind is like a computer, it cannot create ideas in a vacuum. You must give it information as fodder to chew on. The Internet is at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in any information about your goal and its accomplishment. Who has done what you want to do? How did they do it? What strategies did they use? What were the critical success factors? Give it all the information you can, then be patient and let it incubate. It’s amazing how your mind will come through.
We don’t know if the solutions our minds generate actually work until we try them out.
This is why it’s important to experiment whenever possible, especially if you’re seeking to reinvent yourself. You may need to try something out in order to find the things you like. That’s especially true if you are seeking a different occupation, hobby, relationship, workout routine, etc. By seeing what’s out there in any area of your life, you’ll have a better chance of finding the things you enjoy and the goals you want to create. Experimenting makes you feel adventurous. As Helen Keller said, “Life is adventure, or it is nothing.”
It takes courage whether you are persisting or reinventing. You will likely have or had to do both multiple times while you are on your life’s journey. Remember: humans need encouragement. Don’t try to do it alone. The most successful in life have a group of people they can lean on-coaches, mentors, family, friends, etc. Don’t be afraid to seek yours out for feedback, support or just to vent.
Accept that you may fail; it’s part of the journey. Failure, in the end, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work. Reinvention is required when persistence stalls or fails. The hard part is to know when it’s time to reinvent. You must stop sometimes and reflect. Only you will know. Is it time for you to reinvent yourself?
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