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Don't Throw in the Towel

Down But Not Out

You know what they say about baseball and life--the only difference between the two is perseverance. No matter how hard you try in the batter’s box, after three strikes you’re out! But in the game of life, you’re only out when you stop trying.

Don't Throw in the Towel

We all feel like throwing in the towel and calling it a day every once in a while. But recall the words of Thomas Edison who made more than a thousand attempts before finding the secret sauce for creating the incandescent light bulb:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 You can also draw inspiration from the words of journalist David Brinkley:

 “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with bricks others have thrown at him.”

The Irrevocable Power of Attitude

Bad circumstances are inevitable and often beyond our control. The only thing that lies completely under your control is our attitude towards the circumstances that befall us. Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, Victor Frankl considered himself living proof of the truth behind this idea. His best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” (or: Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp) chronicled his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. It was in the concentration camps that he eventually realised that a characteristic reality of human life means finding hope in every situation...even the most brutal.

Frankl said: “The last of our human freedoms is to choose our attitude in any given circumstances.”

Surviving of Thriving?

Whether they are challenges at home or at work, we all need to know how to go beyond merely keeping our heads above water to actually thriving within our circumstances. It’s all a matter of adopting a persevering attitude:

Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, while teaching math one day, realized something intriguing. She noticed that the most successful students were not always the most gifted, but rather those who possessed an overcoming spirit--in other words, grit! That combination of passion and perseverance towards a particular goal known as grit helped Duckworth to develop a “grit scale” tool to predict outcomes (like who would win the National Spelling Bee, who might graduate from West Point, etc). Duckworth found that a “gritty” attitude was far more consistent at predicting success than IQ scores, SATs, and physical fitness.

Here are a few tips from Duckworth on how to awaken passion when your willpower is waning:

  1. Discover and Deepen Your Interests
    If you feel as to throw in the towel, it’s time to remind yourself of what truly energizes and inspires you. Maybe your depressed spirit is merely life prompting you to make some necessary changes.
  1. Commit Yourself to a Positive Attitude
    According to Duckworth, the principal difference between quitter and achievers was largely down to how they processed disappointment, frustration, or boredom. While quitters ran away at the first sign of trouble, gritty people saw such negative occurrences as a opportunities for growth, rather than a cause for alarm.
  1. Keep Looking Forward Not Backward--Especially in the Face of Failure
    Resilience is what keeps you going even in the midst of unforseen setbacks and failures. The futurist, Andrew Zolli, who authored “Resilience, Why Things Bounce Back”, says that grit is a combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence all allows one to find meaningful purpose while influencing surroundings, outcomes, and individual growth in the process. In other words, even failing and faltering does not mean failure. No matter what you face--even intense suffering--you can take the setbacks as opportunities to bring about progress.

Needless to say, a strong factor in perseverance is a strong support system or community. That’s why we are so proud of our thriving local business economy, and we take great pleasure in shaking your hand. Let’s keep being gritty as we continue this journey together this year.

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