Bouncing Back

Mentors - Bennie Harris

 

"Our resiliency is the physical representation of our belief system: our beliefs about ourselves, about our abundance and opportunity, our faith and spiritual principles, about redemption and about the world around us."

As I watched the finals of the NCAA Men's and Women's National Basketball Championships, the thought of resiliency and the ability to bounce-back came to mind.

Resiliency is always on display in team and individual sports such as golf, tennis and swimming. In the article that I've attached, the author asked Troy Aikman, former All-Star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboy's, to name the most important characteristic of a top quarterback. He noted that; "it was the same for him as for a top receiver; A SHORT MEMORY. He meant forgetting the pass just dropped or interception just thrown and mentally and emotionally, instantly re-focusing on successfully executing the next play."

Now, "A SHORT MEMORY" isn't only applicable to sports, nor did this principle have its origin in athletics. It's a principle that's applicable in our daily lives and it's most notable in nature.

Unless we've recently arrived on the planet or have lived in utter isolation, we are all familiar with the devastation resulting from the Earthquake and Tsunami that struck Japan recently. As one that has lived on Okinawa and visited the breath-taking sites on the island of Japan itself, it was a terribly painful experience watching the continuous news feeds. We weren't just watching things getting washed away; we were witnessing that which was a way of life for tens of thousands of fellow citizens.

Also fresh in my mind is the "Station Fire" of 2009, here in Southern California not far from where I live. This one fire burned 160,577 acres or 251 square miles.

I remember driving back from the Monterey Peninsula down the scenic coastal highway and then crossing over to Interstate 5-South for the short drive into San Fernando Valley. The plume of smoke from the fire was dauntingly visible for miles, it seemed as though the whole valley was burning!

It was one thing to hear about it and see it on the news, but it was something totally different, witnessing the dark of night lit by this raging fire, uncontained. I vividly remember going outside the next morning and the sky being orange and filled with the smell of smoke.

I'm also reminded of the recent Gulf Oil Spill. At one time I lived on the beautiful Mississippi coast and so enjoyed driving along the coastline between New Orleans and Panama City. The thought of black tar-type oil washing up on the shores and drenching the wildlife, stabbed at my heart.

Now, as devastating as these three vastly different events are, we still inhabit a planet born of resiliency. This in no way diminishes the pain and anguish experienced by all of us as citizens and neighbors alike. Yet, we can learn so much as we observe nature at work, bouncing back from adversity.

If "A SHORT MEMORY" is ever visibly evident, it's in our world around us.

On a much lighter note, when I think of resilience and the ability to bounce-back, I think of infants learning to walk. What an enjoyable experience, watching a little-one experience legs and what they are capable of.

If you have children, do you recall their first learning to crawl? They start by rocking back and forth on their knees, like they're revving their little engines. Then at some point in their minds, that thing called crawling that's been seeking expression through them bursts into action. We see them crawling and experiencing a new dimension of life.

Then the same process takes place when they so desperately want to walk.

There's this thing within seeking to walk and they start by bouncing around in a walker and then they learn to pull or push themselves up and stand unassisted. Their little legs wobble and they fall down more than a few times, and they cry for a bit. But, left alone, they try again and again and again. Sometimes we assist by letting them hold our fingers as they take their first steps.

Then finally, this thing within them called walking kicks in and the house is no longer large enough!

Now in learning to walk, our children don't remember the number of times that they weren't successful!!! All they know and practice is walking. It's the same with every skill that they learn as infants and young children. Consciously, they only know what works and that's what they commit to.

Unfortunately, as conscious, mature, thinking adults we've fully forgotten these simple lessons on bouncing-back and have developed very LONG MEMORIES! We've cut ourselves off from the joy of living because of what we've considered bad or painful experiences and willingly refuse to entertain the possibility of any greater good.

How painful and unproductive would our lives be if we as infants fell down while trying to walk, sat there and cried and at 20 or 30 years old, was still sitting there, thumb in mouth, crying, having never walked, refusing to try again?

I know that I'm guilty of this "LONG MEMORY" insanity and I'm thankful that I've become aware of it so that I might do what is required to allow for my continued growth and expansion to the heights of my greatest potential. Isn't this what we all want, to continue to grow and thrive? To become all that we are capable of becoming?

In closing, Ralph Waldo Emerson noted something in his essay on Self-Reliance that jumped of the pages at me as I contemplated this principle of bouncing-back.

"The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and majesty of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye maketh, but the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming."

As we grow in cultivating greater resiliency, and in warmly appreciating the humorously exaggerated details of our lives as useful lessons and not some form of Universal punishment, let's also have fun as the Star Player's of our own National Championships!

The lesson on Resiliency is included below, enjoy.....

 


 

RESILIENCY IS A SKILL, NOT A CHARACTER TRAIT

SOME PEOPLE SEEM ABLE TO HANDLE LIFE, OTHERS ARE OVERWHELMED BY IT.

Often those overwhelmed are carrying far lighter burdens and dealing with far fewer problems than the ones going on about the business of daily living with good cheer. I observe some people magnifying their problems, others minimizing them. Some are people who rebound from disappointment or loss quickly, while others wallow in their pain endlessly.

THE QUALITY OF RECOVERY FROM DISAPPOINTMENT, FRUSTRATION, LOSS, AND UNJUST TREATMENT, ETC. AND RE-FOCUSING ON PRODUCTIVE DOING IS USUALLY CALLED "RESILIENCY."

ALL-PRO, CHAMPION ATHLETES IN EVERY SPORT POSSESS IT AND DEMONSTRATE IT FREQUENTLY.

When I was speaking on a program with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, I asked him to name the most important characteristic of a top quarterback and he said it was the same for him as for a top receiver; A SHORT MEMORY. He meant forgetting the pass just dropped or interception just thrown and mentally and emotionally, instantly re-focusing on successfully executing the next play. The pro golfer, pro tennis player, pro barrel racer, pro whatever-sport must do exactly the same thing. So must the high-performing salesman, negotiator, speaker, stand-up comic.

People in many other professions are freed from the need for instant resiliency. The movie actor whose movie flops at the box office, for example, is probably already well into the making of the next movie before the first one fails. The businessman usually has the luxury of time to analyze and re-group. Nonetheless, the successful leaders in every field exhibit a different kind of resiliency than most. The quarterback who throws an errant pass has less than 60 seconds between it and an opportunity to redeem himself. The entrepreneur who makes a huge mistake may go months or even years before redemption.

One of the most important "SECRETS" of PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS is that RESILIENCY is not genetic. It is not something you either have or you don't. The proof is that many top athletes, celebrities, salespeople and businesspeople tell of having to learn about this and then work at developing it.

A PERSON'S RESILIENCY (OR LACK OF IT) IS THE PHYSICAL REPRESENTATION OF THEIR BELIEF SYSTEM; THEIR BELIEFS ABOUT THEMSELVES, ABOUT THE ABUNDANCE OR LACK OF OPPORTUNITY, ABOUT FAITH AND SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES, ABOUT REDEMPTION, AND ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND THEM.

A belief system is not something you are born with; it is something you acquire and develop and build and modify as you mature, from the raw material of conditioning by parents, teachers, preachers, other authority figures, media and of your own life experiences and of your own observations. Because your belief system is "made" it can always be consciously altered to better serve you. Since it all emanates from the self-image, the process for deliberately changing it is the entire process of PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS.

Recently I have had occasion to re-visit my own notes and information about resiliency, and do some "self-coaching", and I thought some of the keys to resiliency might be useful to you, too. These are not necessarily in priority order, and one may be more significant to you than another.

NO ONE SUCCEEDS ALL THE TIME.

Tiger Woods has made some exceptionally awful golf shots. (At present, it's terrible.) I've watched Michael Jordan miss four shots in a row. One he threw up was an embarrassing air ball. In a football game on a Monday night, the most reliable kicker, 12 for 12 for that season, shanked an easy 27 yard field goal attempt. Virtually every millionaire entrepreneur I know - and I know many - has been flat broke at least once. I am one of the highest paid direct-response copywriters in America today, yet I still occasionally produce an ad or sales letter that lays a giant, embarrassing egg. Tom Hanks, once the highest paid, most popular actor, and Paul Newman co-starred in a movie that was dead on arrival at the box office. Maxwell Maltz urged people to "give yourself a break!" You are going to exercise lousy judgment, you are going to lose your temper and say something you wish you hadn't, you are going to make a bad investment, you are going to screw up as a spouse, parent, friend, and professional. You are going to do what the uninformed call "fail", but what Dr. Maltz identified as "COURSE CORRECTION".

ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL BUT STUDIOUSLY AVOID ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY (OR BLAME) FOR WHAT YOU CAN'T.

The other day I had a conversation with a woman who finally divorced her husband after he had repeatedly cheated on her. She was re-visiting the entire term of their relationship and burying herself in "what if's" - what she should or could have done differently so that he would have been faithful. I told her there might very well be things she should or could have done differently to be a better partner but that, in all probability, none would have altered his behavior because marital infidelity is a matter of integrity first and foremost, and you cannot control another person's integrity.

I'm very big on accepting responsibility, for selfish reasons; control and responsibility are inextricably linked; you cannot have one without the other; you get equal measures of each; and I like as much control as possible so I have no option but to welcome lots of responsibility. But to maintain a strong, healthy self-image you have to sensibly recognize things that really are beyond your reach of responsibility and control. I suggest that the integrity of a partner is one of those things. Consider a simpler example: the coach of a losing team. If he failed to prepare himself and his players, if he stayed up the night before the big game drinking and playing poker so he wasn't thinking straight during the game, if he neglected to get and study scouting reports, if he was somehow derelict in his duties then he legitimately has responsibility for the loss. But if he did everything he could do to the very best of his ability and he got out-coached and his team got out-played by the other team, he cannot walk around wearing a hair-shirt and conduct his own crucifixion.

EVERYBODY GETS ANOTHER CHANCE AND SO WILL YOU.

A few people arguably get too darned many chances and waste them all - Robert Downey Jr. and Daryl Strawberry leap to mind. But setting that aside, opportunity is so abundant and redemption is such a big part of the American experience, you will always have another opportunity. Rare is the person who really strives for redemption and never achieves it. In politics, former President Nixon comes to mind; he only rehabilitated his legacy to a minor degree, never to his satisfaction. Privately, plenty of people were willing to acknowledge his extraordinary foreign policy achievements, but publicly he was mostly shunned post-resignation. But former President Carter, whose presidency was a disaster, has become a highly respected ex-President and even most conservatives (myself included) acknowledge he has been one of America's best former Presidents. The singer and actress Vanessa Williams - who hosts the current generation of my client, Guthy-Renker's Pro-Activ TV-infomercial, has had a very good career, appeared in numerous movies, to such an extent that few even remember her having the beauty pageant crown taken back from her, after nude lesbian photos of her were published in Penthouse Magazine. Lee Iacocca, who I spent some time with personally while working on a Guthy-Renker project, was so celebrated for his turnaround leadership at Chrysler, his autobiography topped business book bestseller lists for two years - but prior to that, he had been unceremoniously canned as President of Ford Motor Company. No matter how big the mistake or collection of mistakes you have made seems at its worst moment, you can be certain of another chance, an even better opportunity just around the corner, if you practice resiliency and look for it.

GOALS ARE ACHIEVED ZIG-ZAG, NOT IN STRAIGHT LINES.

If you stay focused on the big picture, details have a way of sorting themselves out - almost always in a zig-zag way, rarely straight line. Goals are VERY important for resiliency, by the way. Only by having a goal on the horizon to keep moving toward can you navigate rough seas. This is the time of year many people reflect on the year ending; ponder the New Year coming, and re-visit goals, and that's good. You need at least one, but no more than several overriding major goals to serve as your navigational stars.

"YOU ARE A MISTAKE MAKER BUT ALSO A MISTAKE BREAKER."

Dr. Maltz's line. Because we are human we are mistake makers. But we also have the power to gain wisdom from our mistakes, confidence from correcting our mistakes, to rise above our mistakes. What sets us distinctly apart from all other living things is our power of choice. We get to choose what we think, how we think, how we react, who we associate with, where we live, what we study and learn. Just for example, when I was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, I realized it was probably the result of a collection of mistakes: years of heavy drinking (ended many years ago, but the damage was done), being overweight, poor diet, lack of exercise. But I also realized that there were many new choices I could make. I took off 45 pounds, changed my diet, adopted a complex regimen of nutritional supplementation, exercise, and made the disease virtually go away.

"YOU ARE NOT YOUR MISTAKES."

Also Dr. Maltz' quote. When somebody makes a mistake, say math errors that cause checks to bounce, or having a fender-bender, something mundane like that, they all too often berate themselves with language that makes the mistake and their being one and the same: "I'm dumb, I'm stupid, what an idiot I am". Instead of: "I made a stupid math error" or "I failed to concentrate and went through a stop sign." You want to acknowledge, accept responsibility and, if possible, correct, make amends for and avoid repeating the behavior, but you don't want to attack and invalidate your own self-image. If you beat yourself up, you cannot be resilient. You must separate your concept of yourself from your mistakes, so you can be your own best encourager, not your own harshest critic.

 

Reprinted from: Zero Resistance Living Newsletter
Fall/Winter, 2002

 

 




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