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Don’t Give Up So Fast

margo berman, jenningswire, annie jennings prMany of us let yesterday dictate tomorrow.

Just because you had a lousy boss, cheating lover or backstabbing coworker doesn’t mean the next person will do the same. Yes, you’re now cautious, but you shouldn’t be crippled. Instead, you should stay positive. The truth is, things change. You may get a great new boss. Your next lover may be devoted to making you happy. Your next colleague may be a loyal, wonderful collaborator. Who knows?

The worst thing you can become is bitter and angry.

Sure you’ve been disappointed. That’s part of growing up.  Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you worked for. Maybe people lied to make themselves look good at your expense. Maybe you were stuck picking up the slack on a project when others dropped the ball. Don’t focus on what others did to you.

Think about how much you grew from these experiences.

You may be a better boss because now you have deeper insight into people’s motives. Perhaps you can put a stronger team together because you can see how negative opinions could expose imminent problems. Possibly, you can better guide the next project’s progress to a successful conclusion with a hard-to-manage team.

If you haven’t seen the 1988 movie, Things Change, with Joe Mantegna and Don Ameche, you should. It will reframe your thinking and you’ll have a good laugh. Not just about the movie, but maybe about your life. The story twists in unexpected ways, showing how quickly something terrible could turn into a terrific opportunity. In that same unpredictable kind of story line, it’s similar to the 1994 hit, Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks.

Learning to bounce back from adversity is a skill worth developing. Whenever something doesn’t go as I had hoped, I always think about Winston Churchill’s famous quote:

Success is measured by your ability to maintain enthusiasm between failures.”

Failure is part of success. Every inventor and researcher knows that. It’s the only way to move forward: to learn what doesn’t work and what not to do. Thomas Edison would never have invented the light bulb if he had given up too soon. He persevered through more than 1,000 failed experiments. The story goes that when people asked him why he wasn’t tired of failing. He answered,

“I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”

That’s the point. People who succeed often fail first. Not once or twice or three times, but over and over again. They observe. They focus. They learn. It’s often been said that success doesn’t teach you anything. It’s simply the reward for having failed.

The next time you feel discouraged, ask yourself, “Have I done everything I could have done? Or, did I quit too soon?”

Another movie that will get you back on track when you feel like quitting is the 1993 film, Rudy, with Sean Astin. It’s based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettige, who with practically no athletic ability or academic prowess dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame University. Through sheer grit and dogged persistence did he attain the seemingly impossible.

You will find anything worth doing takes effort.

It’s a lot easier to sit and moan about all the reasons you’ve failed. You could even throw a daily “Pity Party.” But, that’s the easy way out. The real question is: How committed are you to your own success? Would you say that you’ve done everything imaginable to reach your goal? Or did you only give it a half-hearted effort? If something hasn’t worked out, don’t give up. What you need to do is add one word to that thought:

It hasn’t happened YET. Now, go and make it happen.