Secrets of successful people’s minds: how to overcome setbacks?

January 9, 2019


In his book Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy famously observed: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Well, this is true not only about families, but also about each one of us, married or single. When we are happy, we are also self-fulfilled, active and confident. Our work and life puzzles fall neatly in their perfect places. We fly from one success to another. But human life is like a zebra: a white stripe is followed by a black one. And this is when each of us reacts differently and becomes unhappy in our own personal ways.


Challenging situations bring doubts and uncertainties: Is it my fault? Am I good enough? And if a black stripe persists a little longer: Am I good enough at anything? Although each one of us might go through tough challenges, why is it so that some people seem to easily overcome them and others struggle for years or even decades?


There are people who are capable of pulling themselves together in any life situation. Are they different? Are they super humans? No, they are not different and they are not super humans, but they think differently. They also have their doubts and uncertainties but they try to see a bright side of life and they learn from their success as well as from their failure.


We live in the illusion that life is supposed to be bright and shiny every day. It might well be so, but also it might not. Are we prepared for the unknown? Norman Vincent Peale once said: ”Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. But are we ready for a long fall to eventually end up among the stars?


There is a slight difference between being naive and positive and hope for the best and having a reality based optimism. In other words, having a positive vision in life and being equipped to handle any challenges, either alone or with the help of someone else who already has the knowledge and experience of such situations.


Or would you want to climb the mountain with someone who has never done it before?


Let's get to know John and Martin. Both had been married for decades. Though they don't know each other, both have gone through a painful divorce and both have once asked themselves: what's next? Am I a failure? Have I done something wrong and why did it happen to me?

John couldn't stop and always pivoted this situation in his head. He was so caught up by the idea that he was useless and that no one would want to marry him again. He ended up being alone.


Martin also went through the period of self-doubt but at some point he realised that either he would end up in depression and loneliness or he had to find the way out of that situation and to give himself a second chance. He realised that he might not have a chance to meet a woman of his dreams but he already had someone who deserved his attention  and was longing for it right now. It was him, himself. He started building up a positive relationship with himself and investing in himself. Now he is happily married and has a strong conviction that everything depends on him no matter what.


Bad luck can visit anyone. It would be too presumptuous for anybody to declare that they are immune from any misfortune. Any person may lose their job, be forced to move out and sell the house, get troubles in their private life or even lose their loved ones. The difference is in how people respond to these situations, how do they assess them and which actions they take. I love the quote by the ancient Greek philosopher: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”


To feel like a victim of the misfortune, bad luck and circumstances is, probably, an immediate reaction. What is important is not to remain in the skin of a victim for too long. It is necessary to find strength and courage to get out of this unsafe refuge and get back in control of your own life. A person with victim mentality believes that the entire world is against them; that there is always someone else responsible for their misfortune: spouse, boss, economy, politicians… The list can go on and on. A little while later, such a person will be certain that the entire life is unfair and that the wrong people get undeserved profit. A person with a victim mentality may not even realize when this negative framework will become the essence of their life: they will continuously search for bad things and, no doubts, they will find them.


A positively minded person approaches the world and life situations differently. Such a person might also go through tough times, but will always seek an opportunity, see a deeper meaning in the events, even the bad ones. The main asset of this person is their ability to learn. Learning becomes a lifelong investment. A positively minded person knows their own value and believes in themselves no matter what.


Our character is formed as a chain from our thoughts – to our emotions – to our actions. It is formed precisely in this sequence and no other way round. This means that our thoughts determine how we react to life situations. This is not a verdict but a chance! We can change our mentality, our way of thinking, and, by implication, regain control over our own lives. What is required is to get rid off the negative emotions and to understand what holds us back.


Remember: “…if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…”? What does Kipling promise those who can do this? Correct: “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…”


Learn to master your thoughts and emotions and you’ll know how to master your own destiny. Nobody says that that’s going to be easy, but the payoff will be awesome. Got intrigued and need some help? Get in touch and we will work it out for you!


If you like reading my new blogpost, why not to share it with your friends. If you haven’t done our online course yet, now is the right moment! Have you seen our online self-awareness test? Would you like to pass it now, follow the link:

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players…”

(W. Shakespeare, As You Like It)


We believe that each and every one of us is not only a leading actor but first and foremost a writer of our own destiny. Overwhelmed by life events, we may unintentionally forget that we are the sole playwrights of our own lives. We may even unwittingly drop or lose the thread of our unfolding life story. Then, we start questioning ourselves and let others do the writing for us. Doesn’t this happen to all of us occasionally? The best thing we can do is to resume the leadership as soon as we can: only we should write the play of our life!   


With the renewed confidence and new skills, we design new perspectives. Coaching and training are the best instruments we use to achieve this goal.


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