Everyone falls down sometimes. Like toddlers aiming to walk and athletes stretching their limits, if you’re in management, you, too, have fallen down here and there. Maybe an initiative flopped, you lost a big account, or the economy took an unexpected turn. Just the same, when you get knocked down, you have choices: jump up and come back swinging or crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head.
On a business trip to Dallas, I rode with a chauffeur originally from Egypt. He shared his life story of numerous difficulties and set backs and how after each blow, he beat the odds, got back on his feet, and forged ahead. Making his way to this country, he used his determination and work ethic to build a new life from scratch. His kids are dedicated students in school. They have the same work ethic as their father. And no one looks back with a “woe-is-me” attitude…they only reflect on the past to remind themselves of how much they have to be grateful for today. I found him refreshing.
In a country where most of us see the American Dream as an elusive pipe dream, here was living proof that it’s still doable. Even with a language barrier, even with the option of throwing up his arms in defeat, this guy jumped to his feet every time he fell.
He made me think of Bonnie St. John, a woman I met at the National Speakers Association convention last year. Bonnie gives presentations about getting back up after you fall, using personal experience to inspire others. Her lesson began on a ski course in 1984 when she became the second-fastest amputee skier in the world, and the first African-American Olympic ski medalist. Her story appears on Starbuck’s “The Way I See It” cup #165:
“I was ahead in the slalom. But in the second run, everyone fell on a dangerous spot. I was beaten by a woman who got up faster than I id. I learned that people fall down, winners get up, and gold medal winners just get up faster.”
So what can you do to get up gold-medal fast and still achieve what you set out to do? The answers obviously vary with the situation, but there are some principals you can adapt to meet your needs. The same principals that define a successful leader are those that build successful lives.
Whether your challenges are on the job or in everyday life, use this list to set yourself back on your feet:
As you can see, there are a multitude of ways in which you can get up fast when you fall down. Depending on your unique situation, one or more of the above suggestions will seem appropriate today, and different ones will apply in a year from now. The bottom line: winners aren’t those who never fall; they’re people who get up fast and keep going.
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