It’s that time of year again, when pundits and armchair quarterbacks of every stripe offer up their insights on the year past and their predictions for the year to come.
This isn’t one of those posts.
After the year I have had, it’s clear that knowing what’s coming often matters less than how you chose to deal with whatever comes.
My wife and I have an eight-year-old son who is a high-functioning autistic. He may also, as we have learned in the past month, have mild epilepsy and ADD.
We could have chosen to take these latest diagnoses as bad news, or we could rejoice in the fact that we may have finally fingered the culprits responsible for the challenges our son has been having in school that could not be explained by autism alone.
We have made a conscious choice to embrace the latter. Because now we feel we have something tangible, definable and actionable. The source of the problem, and there is no denying there has for some time been a problem, is no longer a mystery. Now we can deal with it.
We’ve touched many times on the subject of emotional intelligence (EQ), the measure of an individual’s self-confidence, self-awareness and ability to navigate periods of stress and emotional turmoil, all of which has a direct bearing on the likelihood of achieving business or career success. A big part of a strong EQ is attitude – how long does it take you to bounce back from unwelcome news in a positive way, versus sinking into despair, sulking about it for days on end, or looking to affix blame?
We’ve also touched on the value of failure on this blog so often it’s almost cliché to mention it again, but it is something that does merit repeated mention, because so many people fail to grasp the fundamental point about the effectiveness of failure as a tool for learning. If there’s some pain, there’s more gain – it’s the lessons that hurt that impact us the most. Finding the silver lining in failure is another defining characteristic of a robust EQ.
Many of us believe in some variation of karma, or at least, that “what goes around, comes around.” I believe we can talk about karma without it engaging some cosmic force. People who are positive, energetic and confident draw others and opportunities to themselves simply because few of us want to spend our time around negative, indifferent and indecisive people. We certainly don’t rush to engage with that latter group in a professional capacity.
And while we all want to be counted among that first group, it’s only human nature for circumstance to push us into group two from time to time. How long we remain there, however, is up to us.
So on that note, here is my holiday challenge to you, perhaps it’s a long-winded path to a new year’s resolution.
Take time between the turkey-induced coma and the ball drop at midnight to reflect on the three most daunting challenges you faced this past year and how you chose to deal with each one:
- How did they impact you, personally and professionally?
- How did you react?
- How did your reaction impact the people around you?
- Could you have responded to the situation in a more positive way? If so, what would have been the outcome?
- What did you learn from these experiences that you can apply in a practical way?
In the spirit of continuous self-improvement, here is some additional food for thought to help you achieve your definition of success in 2014, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.