Failure may not be your option–but it is a reality. It can happen to anyone, and anyone can happen to fail. Failure to complete an assignment on time. Failure to complete all objectives required in a lab. Failure to meet all expectations given for an research project. It can happen, but what happens with you after it happens is the most important thing.
When I found out that I was on academic probation, I realized that I had lied to myself for so long and so well. In that moment at my parents table I read that I only had 24 hours to drive several hours out of state back to school, enroll in a full semester of classes, find housing, and find money to pay for it all. Did I mention that I only had $20 and an 13 inch black and white television to my name?
That night, I did something that many people do in this situation: I prayed. However, part of my prayer was answered because of one thing: I changed my perspective…on EVERYTHING. Nothing was more clear to me than the fact that all of this was my fault. Every last bit. I needed a gameplan, and I began putting together one immediately. Apparently, my gameplan worked, because I am here writing this blog. This blog is not long enough to explain everything in my personal gameplan, so let me just talk about the battles of the mind that you MUST WIN in order to avoid becoming Broken.
Battle #1: “I’ve Been Mistreated!”
You may have been mistreated by someone, but you control your own emotions: your emotions should not control you. You were born with those emotions, and they have your name and genetic imprint. If someone else has that much control over your emotions, then you are weaker than you thought. As long as your mind focuses on being a victim, you will never become the hero. People have thrown dirt on you, and probably some fresh…er, ah…”fertilizer”. But you are a seed destined to grow into greatness, so dirt and fertilizer are just what you need.
Battle#2: “I’m Not Good At This Subject Anyway”
Be VERY careful with this one. It has become a new favorite for people to use simply because a class wasn’t easy. This should not be used to excuse the fact that you have encountered a challenge. Many of us are not doing what we were born and gifted to do because of adversity. The NBA’s greatest players are no where near Madison Square Garden because “math just wasn’t their best subject” so they allowed that one class to detain them from their destiny. Students who only had 3 semesters left in college have floated around for 4 years simply because they were looking for a road around their obstacle instead of searching for the demolition technique to move that obstacle out of the way.
Battle#3: “I Failed Before And I Will Fail Again”
You’re right, you will. Your brain is the command center for the rest of your body. Whatever he believes is what the others will follow. Keep speaking like that, and you will fail. It’s a guarantee. In order to win this battle you MUST revisit the battlefield of that class where you lost and retrace your thoughts and process of thoughts. Find the thinking that led to the wrong perceptions–that is where you wil discover much of your winning strategy.
Battle#4: “I’m Too ______ (Fill In Blank)
I’ve heard alot of things that fill this blank. Alot. They have not mattered much. Well, they didn’t matter much to those who overcame them and passed. They only mattered to those who did not pass and blamed it on whatever they filled in the blank with. I once had a class that was completely pessimistic. It drove me nuts! They doubted their capability to do anything. They would quit before they got started. So I decided to trick them. Yes, you read correctly so keep reading.
The class was a general community college science course but I began giving them material from a Junior year level 4 year university course. The class average went up by nearly 15 points! After 2 months of this they all decided that they would approach me about the fact that although they were ALL passing, that this may not last for long and that they were afraid of failing the final exam. This is when I revealed to them what I had been doing for the last 2 months. They were in shock! They immediately began to try and rationalize how they would still fail even though they had been doing excellent work. After several minutes of whinning and debate, one of them finally caved in and said, “Guys, what are we doing?!? Mr. Nixon just helped us become successful and we’re attempting to throw it away just to be right and depressed! I don’t want to be a loser anymore!” The others agreed…well, all except for one.
Winning a war is all about winning the right battles. School is war. Everyday is a different battle. If you do not win them all, then don’t freak out–win the ones in your mind first. The rest will follow…