This is the story of a handsome man who became successful at very young age. He received many awards and was acknowledged among his peers and fans alike as a huge talent in the industry with a promising future.
Like many who experience success at a young age, he lost track of what was important to him and why he had struggled to succeed in the first place. He stopped putting effort into his choices and assumed that because he had been successful in the past, his decisions would always be good ones.
Of course, he was wrong. His career began to spiral downward and his personal life devolved into a bad joke. Many in the industry wrote him off as a “one hit wonder” and watched as he slowly slid into obscurity.
Instead of getting angry or drowning in self-pity about the passing of easy opportunities in life, the man—no longer so young by now—took a closer look at the hardships in his life to see what they had to teach him. He began to make more intelligent career choices, settled down, married, and had three children.
The story has a happy ending because the young man in this story, Ben Affleck, finally grew up; and at the 2013 Academy Awards his movie, Argo, won Best Picture. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Affleck gave us a glimpse into his thinking when he was asked what advice he would give Hollywood newcomers to steer away from career suicide and embarrassing tabloid covers. He said that his failures made him, that he wouldn’t change much of anything, that failure is ultimately the best teacher of all.
This story has a good ending not only because Affleck turned his life around, but because he is an inspiration that we can do the same thing. When the going gets tough, we tend to seek out those people—and things—that give us the strength to be our best self. We yearn for the feeling that we’ve turned our lives around and are headed for better days.
In my book, Secrets of A Strong Mind, I discuss how looking for the upside takes our mind off the down times. A positive attitude allows us to forget, even for a while, the hardships that face us in many areas of our life. Those times of contentment and happiness are wonderful. We need to spend time with them so when times are harder, we can remember the strength they gave us. But to expect those times to last is not realistic.
Here is the ugly truth: We learn very little by being happy and content. We learn everything by being engaged with the realities of life, especially when it’s hard, confusing, and difficult.
What are the stories that motivate us to learn what hardship has to teach us? They’re the stories of people who were beaten down by circumstances and defied the odds by pulling themselves up by the bootstraps to achieve the impossible. That’s why we love old western movies and Rocky Balboa.
The best motivational speakers are leaders who have been in the trenches and dug down, inside themselves, to find an inner strength that they didn’t know existed. These transformations remind us that we can find our best self too—it just needs to be teased out.
The unpleasant bits of acid that reality drops into our life every now and then are exactly what we need to remind us what is important in life. “Love people, use things—not vice-versa.” Kelly Rothaus
Here are some questions to keep your attention focused on what is important in life:
- What’s more important . . . people or things?
- What’s more important . . . credentials or accomplishments?
- What’s more important . . . the way you start or the way you finish?
- What’s more important . . . where you went to school or where you learned?
- What’s more important . . . what you acquire or what you become? (click to tweet)
- What’s more important . . . who people think you are or who you really are?
- What’s more important . . . who is right or what is right?
- What’s more important . . . your age or your attitude?
- What’s more important . . . how you spend your money or how you spend your time?
- What’s more important . . . what you get from life or what you give to life?
- What’s more important . . . doing what is right or doing the right things?
- What’s more important . . . making a living or making a life? (click to tweet)
Whether it’s Ben Affleck, or ourselves, we do not enjoy adversity and hardships. But if we didn’t encounter them, we wouldn’t develop the inner strength to keep our attention focused on the important things in life.
How do you maintain your priorities? What tips can you share on how to develop inner strength? What have you learned from your failures?
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LaRaeQuy
Read my book ““Secrets of a Strong Mind,” available now on Amazon.