Your Purpose Must Be Greater Than Your Challenges
I met Leonard on a plane to somewhere when he told me about a time when his life was going nowhere
He told me how six months earlier, at the age of fifty-four, he lost his job at a Fortune 500 company. He thought his life and business career were finished. No one is going to hire a fifty-four year old sales professional, he frequently told himself. Each day he grew more fearful, pessimistic and depressed.
Then one day while taking a walk of sadness along the beach he thought of his twenty year old son and it occurred to him…
If I give up now, what lesson am I teaching my son?
If I don’t overcome my challenges, my son will learn to let his challenges overcome him.
I need to show my son that even though Dad was knocked down, that he can get back up… so when life knocks him down he’ll know that he can get back up too.
Fueled with a bigger purpose to show his son that he could get back up after being knocked down, Leonard dusted off his resume, called friends and colleagues in his industry and reached out to various companies letting them know he was back in the game.
His positive beliefs lead to powerful actions. Instead of waiting to be fed like a goldfish, he became a shark and went in search of food.
Over a three month period, Leonard’s actions lead to a number of interview opportunities and four job offers. Yes, four offers!!
Now he is with a company that appreciates his knowledge, experience, and talents. He reports directly to the President, and his future is brighter than ever.
Leonard is a testament that if you think your best days are behind you, they are… and if you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.
Positive beliefs lead to powerful actions.
After telling the story, he goes on to ask a few questions. Two of which stood out to me when looking back at all that I have been through with my legs. The first of which was "Have you been knocked down?" My immediate response is, haven't we all been knocked down at some point in life? Much like Leonard's response in the story above, I have always felt, the adversity I've faced in my life has made me stronger, more driven, and more passionate in my pursuit of my personal and professional goals. I will be the first to admit, that at times, it is extremely difficult to pick yourself up after being knocked down, but the althernative is no way to live your life. I've come to realize that "getting knocked down" or facing adversity doesn't have to be seen as a challenge, but instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to show your character, your determination, and your will to succeed. I have chosen to lead my life with this positive outlook/attitude, and I challenge you do so so as well.
The second question that struck a chord with me was "Have you been feeling sorry for yourself?" I'd be lying if I said I never had moments where I felt sorry for myself or asked "why me?" Again, I think this is something that happens to all of us, but it's how soon you can change this mentality that will reveal the fight you have within. I can look back to two moments, that at the time, were very hard for me to get through, both of which I've talked about before in earlier posts. However, I feel the need to briefly mention them again. The first occurred in the summer of 1988 when I had surgery on both legs at the same time. As an 11 year old, I thought being in casts on both legs up to my hips during a time when I should be running around with my friends and having a host of doctors tell me I should never play football again was a death sentence. At first, this was difficult to overcome, but through the support of my family, friends and teammates I made it through these experiences. Additionally, seeing other kids my age in Children's Hospital dealing with situations way more intense than my own was a true eye opener. I can specifically remember a boy dealing with cancer, coming over to cheer me up by challenging me to some video games. At that moment, I challenged myself to share his positive attitude in my life, and thus, I began to realize how blessed I was to learn the values of hard work and having a positive outlook on life at such an early age. The next big moment in my life where I was at a low point and felt sorry for myself, occurred just prior to my amputation in March. It wasn't the fact that I was going to have an amputation that had me down, it was all the pain I had been experiencing, and the effect that pain had on my positive attitude. I stand before you today thankful to everyone that has supported me through this journey; relieved that my positive outlook on life is stronger then ever; and proud to have the opportunity to pay it forward through establishing The StayStrong Foundation (which I plan to explain in my next post).
I want to finish this post with two last pieces of encouragement. The first of which, goes back to the story above and how Jon Gordon concluded his blog entry:
I want to encourage you to think of Leonard and remind yourself that regardless of the adversity you face, your purpose must be greater than your challenges. Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on your purpose. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, see yourself as a hero. Heroes and victims both get knocked down but heroes get back up, and armed with optimism and a greater purpose they create a positive future.
Finally, I want to take you back to the title of this post, Your "Attitude" Determines Your Success! In fact, I feel your "Attitude" determines 100% of your success, and I can prove this with my mathematical background. If you assign each letter of the word ATTITUDE its numerical equivalent (i.e A=1, T=20, I=9, etc.), then the sum of your ATTITUDE = 100. This is why I have chosen to approach my life and the adversity I encounter with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE!
Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!