3 Tips to Guarantee You Will Overcome Adversity

Originally posted 09.16.2017


According to Thomas Paine in The American Crisis, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Written almost 300 hundred years ago, the American philosopher words remain fresh and relevant to our age as they did back in the time of the American Revolution. Facing deluges of stress, busyness, and changes in the workplace, I experienced difficulty in tough times. Last week the stress drowned me. I let anxiety overwhelm me.

Probably the best thing I did for myself [and my family] was to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Here I obtained the graces for a clean start, a theological re-booting of my system, and aid to face the adversity this week. Along with Divine assistance, I also had a counseling appointment where I received additional help to stay even-keeled as I boarded the “ship of life” and sailed out against the sea of stress. Below I discovered [actually re-discovered] three practical tips that guarantee you will overcome adversity.

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Seek Help

As a perfectionist I often struggle to admit I need help. My drive to succeed and do the right thing is both a blessing and a curse. In the storm of adversity, sometimes I am not able to keep afloat by myself. Jesus Christ said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew  7:7). To ask for help means to submit yourself to the possibility that you may not have all the answers. Being uncertain about something or not a sign of weakness. Rather, seeking help demonstrates a powerful humility–a mighty weapon to wield in the face of adversity.

great power great responsibility

Own Up to Failures

Similar to the first point of asking for help and demonstrating humility, acknowledgment of my limitations provided another bulwark against adversity. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” His words carried real weight for me this week. Working for the banking industry involves balancing regulatory compliance with superb customer service to our clients in order to treat them with dignity and respect.

To be honest, I feel like an actuarial acrobat most of the week. A situation arose where I placed more priority on company risk prevention then serving a customer impacted by Hurricane Irma. I felt guilty–even though I really did nothing morally culpable nor illegal. Still, I realized I could have provided our client a better experience. So, I took initiative to actively solve the issue by simply calling him back to inform him of the complete breakdown of disaster assistance our company provides. Almost immediately, I gained a strength to persevere with mettle despite encountering other stressful situations that day.

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Learn, learn, learn

Albert Einstein once said, “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”  Despite, being a professional physicist, the German genius gave us profound philosophical wisdom in this quote. Throughout my life I encountered people I consider to be “learner yearners”. In other words, people who commit themselves to life-long learning and study. The common thread among “learner yearners” is that they seem to deal with adversity in a calm and controlled manner.

Adversity will always pester us and follow us in our earthly existence. The key is donning an educational attitude and seek opportunities to learn. Learning leads to perspective. Perspective leads to patience. Patience is the virtue that allows us to disable adversity’s assault.

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The great English prime minister Winston Churchill stated, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” More colloquially put, “With great power comes great responsibility,” attributed by Ben Parker [uncle of Peter Parker/Spiderman]. Facing turmoil and adversity head-on seems brings a sense of joy and peace. This seems counter-intuitive, but from my personal experiences so far that has been the case. A habit of seeking help, taking ownership of my failings, and continual learning leads to overcoming of adversity!

***”It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.”***

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Why Initiative is the Key to Success

According to Seth Godin in his book Poke the Box, “Without the spark of initiative you have no choice but to simply react to the world. Without the ability to instigate and experiment, you are stuck, adrift, waiting to be shoved.”

Be proactive not reactive

I have been in reactionary mode the last couple of days. Yesterday, I had an entire day off of work from both of my part-time jobs. I spent the majority of my day catching up on sleep.

Too Much Rest for the Writer?

I had to get rest. There was really no way around it. Yet, I somehow felt lazy and unmotivated. Unproductive. I despise that feeling of being unproductive!

My plan for this morning was to begin the day writing. I had saved all these inspiring content ideas. I was going to make up for “lost time” and roar back with a productive tenacity.

Guess what? Sleep got the better of me again! My body needed additional rest. This was the beginning of a writing rut. I could sense it. “It is just one day. I have been busy with my jobs and I had earlier success last month. I deserve another day off. Another 30 minute or hour nap won’t hurt. I will get my article written later in the day,” I told myself.

Excuses Me?! Enough of the Excuses!

Chock it up to an irregular schedule or the beginning of the school year, but at the basic level those reasons were excuses. I lacked initiative.

Admittedly, I did seriously ponder taking another day to rest—to put off the initiative to write. Fortunately, that was a temporary attitude. I drive to my local library to check out some marketing and entrepreneurial books. Seth Godin’s Poke the Box was perfect tinder to reignite my initiative.

Taking time to rest is necessary. Be wary against going too far and letting that day of rest turning into a couple days, then a week, or even long.

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Take Action Now not Later

You will experience ruts. It is natural. Don’t give up. Rest your mind and body. Regroup. Go back to your work with a ferocity. Start. When? Now!

Please share your strategies to get yourself out of ruts and how you balance the need to rest with the need to get work done in the comments.

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3 Reasons Why Forcing Ideas Leads to Bad Writing

According to Henry David Thoreau, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”  I interpret the great American writer’s words to mean that writing without having living is a futile endeavor.  Lately, I have been experiencing writer’s block. Promising ideas and topics spring into my mind; however, a few sentences in I encounter a cerebral roadblock. I stop and wonder: what do my better works have in common? This question weighed on my mind for several days. Finally, I had an insight, a spark of inspiration!  My creativity stems from drawing on palpable life experiences and I write best when I do not force the pen to the paper. Here are three reasons why forcing ideas lead to bad writing:

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Writing is Creative

Writing is a form of art. Like all other artwork, writing involves creativity. From my experiences, I find that I am most creative when I do not seek to be creative. Rather, I allow myself to be inspired. I found inspiration from other authors, the wonders of the world, and my life experiences. William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Without breathing creativity into sterile words, writing is a lifeless process—there exists no meaning.

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Creativity stems freely engaging with reality, yet also believing in the seeming impossible. “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You image what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will,” declared George Bernard Shaw. Forcing me to write when I am not inspired and when I lack the volition does not lead to a good essay.

Freedom over Coercion

To further the previous point, creativity only flows naturally with a will to write. In other words, authors tend to best write under freedom versus being coerced. Freedom presupposes a will. An author’s will to compose comes in ebbs and flows. Throughout this past month, I have lived in an arid climate—intellectually speaking. Previously, creativity freely flowed into my mind like an open spout. Currently, the creative spigot is dripping sporadic moments of creativity. Without having access to turn the metaphorical spout, I need to patiently wait for my natural ability to write to return. Waiting is a tough thing for me. According to the famous French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet”. I pray for the gift of patience from the Holy Spirit to withstand my aridity in authorship.

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Real Life Experience vs. Fabricated Events

During the last few months, I learned that recalling past [and present] life experiences help me in sowing [and eventually reap the harvest] the seeds of writing. Concocting or fabricating an experience does not lead to a good piece of writing.  A contrived event only breeds half-finished drafts and clutters my computer’s filing system.

Without leaning on real life experiences, my writing suffers immensely. Drawing on the wellspring on my life infuses hue, vibrancy, and emotion into writing. A large part of my childhood involved reading. Franz Kafka boldly stated, “Reading is more important than writing.” The German novelist is on point with his claim.

This month involved a ton of changes in my family’s schedules. As a result, I lack sufficient time to ponder my experiences. I also failed to read daily. To combat this aridity, I made time to read at least 30 minutes a day to end this week. Reinvigorated with fresh ideas, I finally am able to complete today’s post!

Because writing is a creative endeavor forcing ideas does not always lead to the best artwork. Creativity involves freedom and a willingness to write and draw upon past and present experiences. Useful tips to help renew my creativity wellspring include: retreating from the busyness of life to reflect in silence and read other great books.

***“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”***

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How to Start Writing Despite having an Impossibly Busy Schedule as a Parent!

This article is for any parent who has an English, Literature, or writing degree, or simply a knack or wordsmithing, but you cannot seem to fit time to pursue your dream because you’re too exhausted from rocking your full-time job as an amazing mom or dad! Check out the article in the link below for incredibly simple ways to start writing now.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-actionable-simple-strategies-help-parents-write-right-chicoine/

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Seek Excellence over Perfection in 2019

Excellence over perfection According to Winston Churchill, “The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘paralysis’.”  As a recovering (and struggling) perfectionist myself, the English statesman’s words definitely makes sense. Perfectionists demand absolute flawlessness in all activities. Since I have focused more on making time to developing content for this blog and on social media, I have learned an important lesson. Consistency matters. Consistency allows one to produce more content regularly and in a fairly short time.

How Does Perfectionism Cripple?

The perfectionist in me used to (and still does on occasion) deliberate slowly and painstakingly over the perfect introduction to a post. Was it interesting enough? Was there that perfect balance between simple and complex sentences? Did I achieve the absolute lowest possible percentage for passive voice? My pernickety thoughts went on and on.

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Is there a perfect way to write an article? Maybe. I honestly don’t know for certain. What I do know is that perfection 100% is not possible. Certainly, you will have those stellar posts that are simply gems. Flawless. But ultimately tough to replicate. Instead aiming to achieve perfection always, focus on excellence and be okay with your occasional (and sometimes rare) visit to perfection. Excellence is consistent. It is stable.

Practice Makes Excellence

Practice makes excellence

Aristotle made the connection between excellence and consistency. He wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The following article Excellence vs Perfection details out more key differences between the two. A link to this resource will be listed in the Resources section as the end of this post. One thing that stood out to me was the excellence tends to focus on both the goal and the journey to achieve that goal, whereas perfectionism looks solely at the end result. I have had to adjust my mindset from perfectionism to excellence. The journey involves the process of learning. Excellence learns from failure. Perfectionism tries to avoid mistakes.

Failure is the first attempt in learning. Be excellent. Strive to create first-rate content. Just remember it need not be perfect. Perfection stymies creativity and growth. Excellence nurtures creativity and daily growth.

Resources

https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/excellence-vs-perfection/

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