PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. Sept. 15, 2016/ Troy Media/ – A recent survey asked participants to list five pivotal points in their lives that made them what they are. The vast majority of these incidents – roughly 80 per cent – were negative.
How can that be? Don’t we want to avoid unpleasant situations?
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and pop singer Kelly Clarkson tell us, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” While this can be true, what doesn’t kill us still has the potential to destroy us.
The key is in our response. According to motivational and research organization GoodThink, which conducted the survey, it’s when we challenge ourselves and ask questions that these negative events begin to become beneficial.
In sports, when a team loses a game they could say, “We just stink” and simply disband. Effective coaches know, however, that for teams to be their best, they need to face challenges. They have to play teams that are better, and they know that players often learn more by losing than winning.
The first question to ask is, “What can I learn here?”
In the case of a sports team, the players and coaches often meet to discuss this. Was the defence effective? How was our conditioning? Did we run our plays well? What did the other team do that we were unable to respond to effectively?
On a personal level, we can ask ourselves similar questions. We can also look upon past challenges we’ve faced and acknowledge how we benefited in the long term.
GoodThink says we must then focus on our strengths.
A basketball team I coached had very small players. If we tried to out-rebound other teams and beat them under the basket, we wouldn’t have much success. My players were extremely quick and agile, however. If we could keep the ball away from the basket, we would minimize the effectiveness of the other team’s size. We found that our speed served us very well in running a full-court defence, and our passing and ball-handling skills allowed us to keep the ball away from the opposition. As a result, this group of players spent little time under their own basket. Most of our games were low scoring but we also had a winning season.
When individuals focus on their strengths, the results are similar. It doesn’t matter if we caused the negative situation we are in, we control our response to it. The key is to simply become bigger than the problem. If we lost our job, we can train for a better job. If a relationship ended, we can learn from the experience and create better relationships.
GoodThink points out that “social support is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness.” We all need help in figuring things out. Because I was not the most brilliant and creative basketball coach, I discussed my team’s situation with others who knew a lot more than me. I borrowed their playbooks and I took their advice.
If we want to learn how to effectively deal with our challenges, we need to talk to people who are where we want to be. What challenges have they faced and what lessons did they learn along the way? It’s vital that we realize that we are never alone.
The bottom line is that challenges are good – what doesn’t kill us can make us stronger. The key is in responding the right way.
We always have a choice. When we ask the right questions, focus on our strengths and find the supports we need, amazing things happen.
Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning educator with over 30 years of experience. Gerry is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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