Determination is a curious thing. How can some people have “stick-to-it-tivness” and others stop at the first hurdle. What can we learn from people who have overcome overwhelming odds to succeed? Our Designer, Kate had the same questions and this week she shared the findings with the team.
Kate looked at three incredible lives; Johnny Cash, Oprah Winfrey and a young Syrian refugee named Amjad; three very different stories of adversity.
Amjad’s story takes place on 25 kms of open sea where he was trying to cross from Turkey to Greece. His Dinghy, packed with over 60 other refugees began to sink. Several young people volunteered to jump out and hold onto the sides for the remainder of the crossing. As Amjad dove out and surfaced he saw the dinghy had left. After an hour he realized they were not coming back and he made peace with death. Then he heard a small voice within him saying “swim”. So focusing only on the next stroke, only the next wave, he did. 15 hours later, exhausted and dehydrated he landed back on the beach in Turkey. Amazingly, he got back into a dinghy the next day and was reunited with his travelling companions on the island of Kos, Greece.
In interviews, Oprah credits a lot of her success to the ability to listen to her inner voice, she says if she has to listen to her heart or her head, the heart wins every time and decades of success would seem to prove her right.
Another quality of people who are determined is their ability to let go of something that is not working for them and open up to new possibilities. Johnny Cash never let his lack of a “perfect” voice stop him. He embraced his unique sound and ability to style songs. Could you imagine another voice singing “a boy named sue”, me neither.
Oprah says her early days as an on-air reporter were a disaster. She would start interviewing but would often end up crying with people who had just experienced a tragedy – her weakness was her natural empathy. When she quit reporting and embraced her one-on-one confessional style of interviewing, that empathy that was one a weakness, became her greatest strength.
If we look across a gamut of successful people we see a doggedness. When JK Rowling submitted “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” it was rejected by 12 different publishers before it was accepted. The Determined often have great supporters in their corner, Steven King was about to abandon his first novel “Carrie”, it was rejected by publishers 30 times. His wife, Tabitha talked him out of giving up. They are often able to break down a seemingly unsurmountable goal into a bunch of little goals, Amjad did that brilliantly and it saved his life. Lastly, those who reach their goals learned to take criticism well, they use it build themselves up, instead of letting it crush them.
Here’s a link to 16 famous people who didn’t get it right the first time but kept going…
Everyone’s different, but if you look at some of the lessons we can learn from those who have faced adversity and thrived; you may just find a nugget of wisdom you can use.