BUILDING RESILIENCE

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

—Philippians 4:12-13

Resilience and persistence often work hand and hand. While resilience refers to bouncing back after enduring a crisis, persistence refers to the ability to steadfastly pursue an objective despite opposition, delays, or other disadvantages. Both resilience and persistence are important because one must not only recover from a setback but have the endurance to continue and not give up. 

Persistence naturally requires being resilient, as you can’t persist if you never get back up. On the other hand, it is important not to take persistence to the extreme. It may seem reasonable to keep going when the odds are stacked against us, but there are times when we just need to learn to let go. 

Strategies for Handling Adversity

When adversity rears its head, it is wise to follow some predetermined guidelines as to how you will cope. Here are some strategies that have helped me to overcome many problems. 

 Maintain a good attitude.“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!” Job proclaims in Job 14:1. Trouble is inevitable, but it is also a tool that produces spiritual, emotional, and psychological strength. When we resist the temptation to feel that our trials are unfair and resist the pressure to respond in a negative way, we develop the “mental muscle” needed to overcome whatever obstacles arise. We learn to analyze the situation, ask for divine assistance, and anticipate a positive outcome.

 Believe in the God who resides within you. Often in the face of adversity, our self-esteem takes a hit. Don’t allow any circumstances to make you feel less worthy. Your challenges do not define you. Adversity is just an experience; it is not your identity. Whatever happens, you are strong enough to regain control over your life. You simply need to remember that with God you can do all things. 

 Rely on your support network. Everyone can get down occasionally. During these times, you can rely on your support network to cheer you on and encourage you to get back up again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Rely on colleagues, friends, or loved ones to help get you through hard times. Challenges are easier to handle when we have someone to talk to. The people in our support group can remind us of who we are when adversity tempts us to forget. Nurture your support group and do not forget that support goes both ways. Be there for others during their trying times.

 Don’t be overly critical of yourself. Beware of allowing your mistakes or any setback to define who you are. You are not a failure if you lose your job or get passed over for a high-profile role. You still have worth and value, and you just need to get back up and prove it. Every defeat gives you the chance to learn from your mistakes, if any, and be wiser in the future.

 Don’t be afraid to accept responsibility. Sometimes adversity seems to come inexplicably out of the blue; other times, it comes as a result of our own actions. If you find that you have made unwise decisions, don’t let this incapacitate you. Accept responsibility for your part in creating the problem and learn from your mistakes. Prepare a game plan to take those necessary next steps.

 Don’t neglect self-care.Ironically, the key to resilience is first learning how to stop rather than forge ahead. It is essential to take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising are critical. Most importantly, the time spent in the empowering presence of God and his Word will reap big dividends. 

We often underestimate our ability to recover from challenging situations, but most people are far more resilient than they give themselves credit for. Many of us have already made significant accomplishments that required resilience. Often, it’s just a matter of looking back and evaluating past successes. Success in one area breeds confidence in other areas. It is often fear that holds us back from being either resilient or persistent; however, most situations aren’t as bad as we think they are. They are certainly not too hard for our omnipotent God.

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WHAT MEASURES TRUE SUCCESS?

We live in a time where success is defined in innumerable ways. Deeply rooted in our psyche is the struggle of the ego. This struggle makes us look inwards and always find ourselves wanting. No matter how much we gain, nothing seems to be enough. The outward response to this is self-depreciation, self-deprivation and arrogance. We spend a great deal of time comparing ourselves to others either consciously or subconsciously, and we borne within our hearts fear and insecurity; failing to see our own value in the process. We wonder why people accept us, and others reject us. The desire for love and respect when denied leaves us wounded and longing. Thus the need for a successful life. This life will then incorporate us into the society and make us feel accepted, irrespective of our race and background.

For too long, our world has measured success incorrectly. We have championed, promoted and followed some wrong people along the way and judged others on the heaviness of their salary packages, eloquence of speech, model of cars they use and their neighborhood of residence. We have focused on the wrong things and have made terribly awful judgments along the way. Are these people truly successful, or they have just found ways to taint the windscreen that exposes us to the clarity of life?

How do you define success? Growing up, I equated money and power with success and for a long time, this has framed my mind. Go through school and get educated. Chase money, power and fame and eventually call yourself a successful man. You could write a couple of best-sellers in the process narrating how you accrued such wealth, self-actualized and got to the top. However with time, things have changed. I have realized not everyone gets to the top. As different as our fingers are, so are our lives. Success is therefore a very personal thing. What drives one person may be different for another, and understanding how others measure success can help you better understand your own definition.

Success is achieving what you have set out to do. This definition of success starts to shape more of an internal feeling, a sense of purpose rather than the pursuit of accolades. This includes getting the job you have always wanted, getting accepted into college and the achievement of inner peace. Success comes only by persevering despite failure. The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure. Winston Churchill defines success as “Walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” This means you have to go ahead and make the mistakes. Don’t be discouraged when you fail because it gets low before it gets high.  When you make mistakes, mount your head high and learn from them.

Success is not only found in great achievements, but also in small daily tasks. You don’t need groundbreaking and spectacular performances before you announce your presence in the world of success, but even the small affairs of daily life can make you successful. I personally keep a diary in which I write my goals for the day. Immediately I’m done accomplishing a goal, I cross the task out as done. This delivers a huge endorphin boost no matter how minute and inconsequential the task is. It is my desire to become successful to live my true purpose and have a positive impact on the lives of people by uplifting them and inspiring them, by working and treating each day as a gift with a destination in mind.

There is nothing quite as useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all” – Peter Drucker.

A metric is defined as a system or standard of measurement. Being able to achieve a success metric is hard, but knowing which metric to achieve is important. Choose your own metric for success and personally discover what you value. The thing is you will end up flowing with the current of the culture around you if you don’t choose a suitable metric for success. Don’t feel like a failure just because you don’t meet someone else’s metric, but strive to build yours and give yourself the kudos when you achieve this benchmark.

Luckily for us, personal success is not a matter of background, intelligence or native ability, but the capacity to get the very best out of ourselves under almost all conditions and circumstances. This defines our ability to adapt to the present circumstances and tailor them to change our lives for good. Don’t just measure immediate tangible results to define success but consider what you have learnt in the long term and how it will help you achieve success in the future.

People have contemplated the role of luck in being successful. Even though luck can contribute to success regardless of what anyone tells you, no successful person is just lucky. Luck provides you with a good start and puts you on the right pedestal to start your journey to success, but the fuel needed to continue this journey is hard work. A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.

Good health is one factor that should not be underestimated when mentioning the determinants of success. The enjoyment of life is at best incomplete in poor health. In our part of the continent, some people are unable to eat the choicest of foods when they get successful, because of an underlying health condition. When starting out your journey, remember to take good care of your health because good health renders your performance adequate, and the more you perform, the greater your chances of success. A healthy lifestyle improves productivity. This reduces absenteeism and results in an individual having improved job evaluations and opportunities for advancement and future employment. That being said, your mental health should not be exempted because being optimistic has a self-fulfilling effect in propelling you towards success.

There are several common measures of success by society definitions today. Money and material possessions are a rather universal equivalent of success. This assumption carries many flaws because it sees them as a goal in itself and not a consequence of your achievements. With wealth comes popularity and these are external measures of success. This can be seen in the lives of famous entrepreneurs, writers and actors. However, there is a whole universe of success definitions which are invisible, can’t be easily measured and are highly personalized. External measures of success are flawed because they were created by someone else, so faring our achievements against these artificial standards means we evaluate ourselves against a bar someone else created.

It makes more sense to measure success according to our own ruler – whether we find what we do meaningful to us, whether it helps other’s lives improve and whether we have more happy memories than regrets at the end of our lives.

So a meaningful life and success have nothing to do with wealth, fame and the number of expensive cars one has. It has everything to do with working on what makes us happy, surrounding ourselves with the people who bring love and warmth to our lives and leading lives that make sense to us. The search formula for success is found in one word. Contentment. The truth is the more you live in contentment, the more productive and fulfilled you will be, and you will live in greater success as the masterpiece you were created to be.

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Thanks for reading

Eliezer

PERSISTENCE!

It’s 6:57pm and the last day of the month of October. I look at my wrist watch after jogging for 57 minutes. I feel so burned out, but I am proud of a feat as such, especially in school. 57 minutes and counting! The maximum I could do was 30mins and this usually happened after I’d had a long sleep prior to running. “I know I can do this!”. However, my body confesses “Eliezer, you have reached your limit, you can do this another time.” I know there’s no other time to do this. It’s now or never!
I lope so hard and complete the last lap finally ending at 7:00pm. I feel pleased with myself. 1 hour of jogging non-stop! Well I would never have envisaged this happening! Reminiscing my past, I could pant so hard after walking for just 3 minutes. The ”problems of being fat’ are endless. I had lots of friends because they loved to look skinny any time they walked with me. I’m now jogging for 60 minutes with a feeling so high spirited people wonder if I plan to compete in the next national marathon.
Well I started jogging 4 years ago. After a loooonng period of inactivity of probably 10 years. Eating was my friend and companion. My brain could practically not tell whether I was bored or hungry. People used to bet over the large volumes of food I could eat. I felt so much joy eating.

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I couldn’t play soccer back in high school; not because I wasn’t good. Well, I was better than most of my mates but my energy level immediately dropped from 100 to 1 every time I kicked a ball. I could heave and puff for so long everyone thought I was dying. I wondered why everyone else could play so actively but not me.
Post hoc, I would return to the dormitory and finish 2 bowls of kenkey- a local dish known for its satiety with ease – The gratification!
Then, one day during vacation. I borrowed my dad’s jogging shoes in an attempt to achieve the impossible with my fat body. I planned to run for 10 straight minutes, not even jog, and return home. I felt I was on cloud nine already, did a few push ups – 3 actually without breaking a sweat.
Then I set off. Suddenly, I started to feel dizzy after jogging a few centimetres from the gate. The world kept spinning and running in circles that I had to hold a wall to keep me from falling. My heart kept hitting hard against my chest. My stomach and legs felt so sore. “Was I burning calories already?” I asked myself as I slowly moved back to my room and continued my sleep.
I never went jogging until I got back to school. Eugene, a good friend of mine introduced me to jogging again – in a different style. He could jog for 40 minutes or more and move around afterwards like nothing had happened.
I would set the alarm at 5:30 am, however sleep could overwhelm me so much, water had to be poured on me to wake me up. I would then sulk walking 85% of the journey and jogging 2%. What I did with the rest of the journey, I have no idea!

Then I made up my mind, If he was doing it, I could do it too! He wasn’t less human than I was. He was a sports boy back in high school so he had an earlier start. I could do this, I kept encouraging myself.
I made it a daily routine, jogging at least 10 minutes every day. “Start low and go slow”. I ran every day until it became a habit. I would return feeling so sore that I slept throughout the day without attending lectures – My dad isn’t supposed to see this.
Jogging felt so good I wanted to do it often.

Now, I was jogging both in the morning and evening. 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Sometimes I would get so tired, and skip jogging for 2 solid weeks. My body, in response, would bounce back into its former state- just like a yo-yo.
How was I to unravel this mystery. The curious me kept reading about how to lose weight in various forms. The meal therapy. The water therapy. The no – sleep therapy. There were so many remedies I never knew of. So I gladly tried all, which were all exercises in futility. The yo-yo effect was so strong!
Then I let go of the bitter pill. I was ready to accept the outcome no matter what. Just keep jogging, no matter what. “Anytime I jog, it’s for my own benefit” I would say to myself whenever I started the journey.
Then, I started to jog for 20 minutes a day – in the morning, I cut down my food intake – The most painful part, and I started taking in lots of fruits.
I couldn’t see the effects but I was changing! I had lost so much weight now, that everyone who saw me asked if I had fallen ill recently. It’s amazing how everyone links losing weight to falling ill.
Physically and mentally, I was different! They say the key to a sound mind is a healthy body. Studying was less difficult now. I could walk for miles and jump rope for days, feeling so proud of myself. I checked my weight very often. It started from 90 kg dropped to 85 and finally to 70kg over the last two years.
Currently, I jog more than an hour and resume daily activities like nothing really happened. No matter how hard the journey may seem, all you need is a speck of resilience, determination and persistence. It can be done. Forget failure! If things don’t work out the way you want, hold your head high and be proud, try again. And again. And again!

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Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not! nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge

Have a wonderful week!

PhotoCredit : GoogleImages and my gallery