The youngest heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody Has a Plan Until You Get Punched in The Face”. The way I interpret this statement is that we have all gone through periods of success, and high confidence forgetting where we came from. And we all experienced levels of failures, setbacks, or injustices. What I am going to argue in this short piece, is that some of life’s setbacks can be turned to our advantage, converting the stress into mental fitness and abundance. I will also argue that most of the pain we experience is self-inflicted as we focus on the negatives and generate a lot of unnecessary noise and unrealistic deadlines.
How to deal with losses? As many of you out there I have experienced serious personal and financial losses throughout my life. I have reacted and learned from those losses, and I continue to apply these lessons to my daily decision making. I have also had the life learning opportunity of getting exposed to other losses and crisis and have been able to provide support at these critical times. One of the general takeaways from all these losses, is that over-reacting to the crisis is never a good approach. In time of crisis while it is key to keep high alert, it is more important to slow down and recoup the strength and focus. Over-reaction tends to cause more damage aggravating the situation.
Here is my manual for effective recovery from stressful situations:
You need to be the strongest you have ever been: Eat well, exercise and practice meditation as this will give you a high level of awareness, gratitude, and self-love that are essential to convert stress into growth. Repeating “I love myself” in front of the mirror every day is a simple practice that will allow you to capitalize on the learning life is offering you.
Become 1 percent better every day: Be it physical, intellectual, or spiritual, push yourself and take baby steps every day to perform ordinary tasks extraordinarily well. Build a routine around these tasks, monitor progress as you continue to build positive momentum, you will see your mental fitness and psychological strength improve. I do an incremental number of push up every day, and I remove unnecessary sugar from my diet. Removing sugar from your diet will give you higher energy level and greater brain functionality.
Seek inspirations from your favorite leaders: Watch and read constantly about leaders that overcome tremendous stress be it in sports, in business, in military and in life and apply some of the metrics to your daily decision making. The great General Napoleon Bonaparte practiced the following to avoid distraction. In times of high stress, he ordered his top generals to bring urgent information to him only 2 weeks after the messages had reached them. The reason being was that most of these challenges would have fixed themselves within the two weeks’ time.
Share your vulnerability with people you respect: Open-up with great people and share your vulnerability and challenge. This creates a safe space for partnership and growth. The recipient person will feel compelled to reciprocate and share similar lesson and experience. Being comfortable about your weakness makes you stronger than most.
Provide positive guidance to your brain: Celebrate every small daily victory with a “yeah” reaction similar to sport’s champion when scoring a goal or an ace. What this does sends a positive message to your brain. Systematize this proactively and celebrate every step that brings positive output. If your mind takes you into darker thoughts provide immediate vocal feedback saying out loud “not useful”. This will help your nervous systems internalize where to go and where not to go.
Persevere: Everyone underestimates perseverance. And my argument is…build a plan no matter how unclear it may be and work relentlessly to make it real. Quoiting Steve Jobs on persevering here “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Replace the noise with actions: Whenever you experience negative thoughts, go on the offensive, performing small fitness routine, helping others, and walking in nature. Work harder than anybody else and self-appreciation and impacts will grow. Keep in mind that time is a non-renewable source, and you should not waste a second on negative thoughts. These thoughts are for the most part artificial and seldom lead to the consequences they threaten to unleash.
Final thoughts: Stressful situation can be managed to your advantage if you limit the information that reaches your brain. Once you have brought quiet to your life, execute on the plan you have built applying the actions and events that caused stress in the first place.