I wanted to write a post on this as I see many people each week who feel that their best days are behind them and they will never get over this illness, problem or addiction. They have endured countless heartaches and setbacks and have lost their faith and hope. They may have had difficulties in their past but in my personal experience and in seeing hundreds of clients and patients, they can turn any obstacle around with the proper mindset and guidance. I have witnessed countless stories of people who have turned what appeared to be problems and strife into the best opportunities of their life. “What you focus on expands” so if you spend all of your time thinking about your problems and keeping a negative mindset, you will bring more of that into your life. You need to shift your thoughts to positive, uplifting vibrations, seek the advice of people who have helped people in this particular area and then take action with a belief system that is unwavering. Keep pushing forward, develop an attitude of growth and abundance and do the right thing even when the wrong thing is easier. Enjoy these great stories of people who have turned their adversity into prosperity and their strife into strength.
Responsibility: Be Your Own Master
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming the first President of South Africa to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. During his time in jail, he kept a scrap of paper in his cell that contained the words of a poem by William Ernest Henley, entitled “Invictus.” It ends with the famous lines, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
To make it through times of extreme adversity, you need to embody these words. Take responsibility for the results you create in your life, and keep agreements with yourself. They are at least as important as agreements with others.
Self-Acceptance: Find Peace with Yourself
From his eight election failures to the civil war, perhaps no U.S. president suffered more hardship than Abraham Lincoln. But throughout his presidency he remained steadfast, and was even quoted saying that if by the end of his term, “I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”
Always show loyalty to yourself. Embrace your weaknesses and shortcomings, but work to turn them into strengths. You cannot control the negative opinions of people around you, but with self-acceptance, you can block out the noise.
The Ramona Pierson Story
22-year-old math prodigy doing algorithm work as a Marine gets hit by a car. The accident breaks 104 of her bones, causes multiple forms of brain trauma, and punctures holes in her lungs. After being comatose for 18 months, she wakes up weighing 64 pounds, she was bald, with a cubist face, metal bones, and a body covered in scars. And she was blind. The one part of her that wasn’t ruined was her mathematical mind.
She has no family that can help, and cannot care for herself, so after 18 months of bouncing from hospital to hospital, she is sent to a senior citizen’s home where the seniors took Pierson on as a pet project. They taught her how to speak, cook, and get dressed—with results that veered between hilarious and near disastrous. For lunch one day, the men decided to educate the still-blind Pierson in the art of barbecuing. They left her alone for a few minutes only to return and find that she’d sprayed lighter fluid around the yard and singed the grass. The women, meanwhile, put Pierson in floral gowns and gave her perms and other hairstyles befitting an 80-year-old. “It was bittersweet,” she says. “They were declining every day, and I was getting better because of them.”
Because the doctors hadn’t expected her to live, they’d done no cosmetic work on her when she was in a coma. It will take more than 100 surgeries to put her back together. When she finally leaves the nursing home, she chews up the world with every experience imaginable
Photos show her exploits as a blind rock climber and cross-country skier. At the end of one walkway are several framed newspaper clippings covering the year she spent tandem-bike racing through Russia to qualify for the Paralympics. While popping handfuls of pills a day to deal with the pain, she set some records, then joined a regular, i.e., not disabled, USA Cycling masters team, grabbed a silver at the National Championships, and was named cyclist of the year in 1995. “I never thought I’d be living that long, so I figured, ‘I am going to wear this s--- out,’ ” she says.
She also goes back to school — first to community college, then undergrad, then a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford. For the next decade she gets every bit of experimental surgery available to try to continue rebuilding herself. After 11 years of blindness, she gets sight back in her left eye. She returns to the military determined to help people suffering from her own level of trauma, Pierson worked for the military during the first Gulf War. The U.S. Army discovered that desert sand was destroying not only planes but also MRI machines. Soldiers would get shot in the head, and the doctors trying to operate on them would have to work off grainy images caused by malfunctioning equipment. Pierson solved the problem by developing a series of algorithms that sharpened the images. In 1997 she went to work at a brain research center in Palo Alto, again to aid soldiers coming back from the Middle East.
Her story continues in this vein. She becomes the founder of an education startup which she sells three years later and is now the founder of , which according to its webpage is:
an intelligent social learning platform. We connect large numbers of people to massive amounts of content. Declara offers what no other data analysis or social sharing platform can – it observes how people learn and adjusts accordingly.
Company: The Walt Disney Co. (now Disney Corp.)
Setback: The cartoon animation pioneer weathered several major financial setbacks in the late 1920s and 1930s, including losing rights to the popular Oswald the Lucky Rabbit character. His company was $4 million in debt by the early 1930s.
Turnaround: With barely enough cash to finance the project, Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1938. The blockbuster movie sprung the company out of bankruptcy and bankrolled the building of a new Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif.
Company: Federal Express (now FedEx Corp.)
Setback: After revolutionizing overnight mail delivery in the 1970s, Smith introduced an electronic delivery service, Zapmail, in 1984 to compete with fax machines. But Zapmail didn’t draw the anticipated interest and cost the company nearly $350 million over two years.
Turnaround: FedEx abandoned Zapmail in 1986 and the company refocused its energy on its core delivery business. The company generated $35 billion in revenue in 2010.
Quote: “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves and by which they are willing to be judged.”
Lesson: Be willing to acknowledge failure, abandon bad ideas and move on.