Ever wonder what it really takes to succeed?    What is the “right stuff” for today’s world?    Must we learn to thrive on chaos, even absolute chaos?    When things don’t go our way do we pack up and leave—give up—survive to fight another day?     Does that bring success even if it’s eventual success?  I think Dr. Paul Stoltz rings the bell with his book “Adversity Quotient”.  He puts it all in perspective—most of which I definitely agree with.  I will be using his subtitles but, in most cases, my comments.   OK, with that in mind, let’s take a look at what he feels to be the key elements.  These are as follows:

  • Competitiveness—There is absolutely no doubt that people who respond constructively to adversity are more prone to maintain energy, focus, vigor and optimism required to successfully compete.  Competition is largely about hope, agility, and resilience which greatly determine how we deal with life’s setbacks and challenges.  One of my favorite people in history is Yogi Berra.  Yogi said: “It ain’t over until it’s over.”  Until the bell rings-until the gun sounds—until the clock ticks down to the last second—YOU ARE STILL IN THE GAME.   Do Not Quit!
  •  Productivity–  If you want to leave your footprints on the sands of time, you have to wear work shoes.   Woody Allen, another one of my favorite people, said 90 percent of success is just showing up.  We have an entire nation of people who do not show up.  They simply do not engage work and life, and they miss out on the best things our country has to offer.    Giving up and not withstanding adversity will sap your productivity.
  • Creativity —  Those not able to withstand adversity become incapable of sustained creativity.  If you believe that what you do does not make a difference, how can you be creative?   If you simply do the 9 to 5 bit while watching the clock every minute, you will lose your creativity.  Doing what you love is far better than marking time.  We all have obligations but it is possible to plan for the future, set a course, and endure what you have to until you can do what you love.  With planning, that day can and will come.   Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water—PLAN for the future IF the present is not exactly what you want!  KEEP IN MIND; if you do this properly, there is “the thing”, then the next thing, then the next thing.  Life is a marathon and not a sprint.  Be creative.  Kick the tires!
  • Motivation–  My buddy Frank Weiss always says:  “Bobby, a man has to have the ‘want to’ in life to succeed. “ People with the highest tolerance to adversity have the greatest motivation to succeed.
  •  Risk Taking – This is a tricky one because we are talking about calculated risks.  If we do not perceive we have control over a situation, there is no need to take a risk.  By the way, we are talking about calculated risk—not the high wire type.  Not the barrel over Niagara Falls type.  Cold, calculating, I got the numbers risk.  In other words, the good kind.
  •  Improvement–   There is an axiom of consistency that says—“the future will be like the past, because in the past, the future was like the past”. OK, in this age of communication, this is total garbage.  Today, you improve or you perish.  Just that simple. You must keep on keeping on.
  •  Persistence—President Calvin Coolidge said it better than anyone I have ever heard. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.   Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “Press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  Calvin really knew what he was talking about.
  • Learning—You must continue to learn your entire life if you are to succeed.  “Nuff said.”
  • Embracing Change– Change can become a welcome part of life.  I know it seems difficult to some but change is as much as part of life as birth and eventual death.  Change happens—get used to it.   Change can and will strengthen our resolve to succeed. 

ONE MORE TH ING:   Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”.  Truer words were never spoken.  In life—YOU REALLY NEED TO ADD A GOOD MEASURE OF FUN.   Have fun.  Difficulties will always arise and we need to deal with difficult issues BUT, life is what you make—sprinkle in generous measures of good old fashion fun. 

Trust me on this one—you can handle it.   As my DI (drill instructor) once told me, “put a little dirt on it-get back in the game.”

 

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