Anytime that we are disappointed with the outcome of a situation – whether it relates to not getting into our college of choice, not being offered our dream job or losing an election – we typically experience several emotions. We may be angry, confused, frustrated, or feel hopeless. As we experience these emotions, we can easily convince ourselves that change is no longer possible, that we are simply stuck where we are with what we have and that’s it. We may even believe that we have fallen so far behind that all the effort that we put into achieving our goal is now void.
It is in times like these that we must remind ourselves why change is still possible. We can change our circumstances by leveraging two resources within our control – our mind and our actions.
Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl shares how he managed to use his mind and actions to survive in his 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl instructs us, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
When we don’t like our circumstances, we can blame others, dig our heels in and refuse to accept the outcome, or we can stay focused on what we aspire to achieve and take actions each day to move closer and closer to that desired outcome. While obstacles are guaranteed along our way, the way we choose to respond to those obstacles directly influences what we achieve.
The greatest movements of our time have spanned decades, involved changes in leadership and run into one challenge after another. And while the setbacks faced by those marching on, those dreaming BIG dreams for themselves and for humanity, may have seemed insurmountable in the moment, it was their choice to keep moving, to stay focused on making the dream a reality, that has transformed our society for good.
It is our perseverance that lays the groundwork for us achieving our next milestone. It is our resilience that makes us unstoppable in the pursuit of our goals.
In moments where we want to give up or give in, let us be reminded of Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
What is the cause at the core of your passion? What is the dream that you long to achieve? What change do you wish for?
Train your mind to relentlessly pursue the change that you want. Feed your soul the stories of those whose example inspires our action. And never, ever give up or give in until you have achieved what you set out to achieve. The example that you set today is what feeds future generations of change makers.
Change is and will always be possible…if we keep our minds and actions in focus.