If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that personal courage, resilience and persistence in the face of external circumstances over which we have no control marks those who survive (and thrive) from those who slip quietly into the night.
But what creates courage? What makes us brave?
Speak to anyone who’s overcome personal challenges to make a success of life and they’ll tell you that the starting point is an acknowledgement that the inner work comes first. ‘It starts with me’.
This in itself can be both frightening and liberating: frightening because if the inner work comes first, it means taking responsibility for factors that we might previously have blamed on something or someone else.
And it’s liberating because recognizing that the inner work comes first gives us a sense of control – over ourselves and our response to circumstances to start with – that we had given away before.
Change the ‘voice’ in your head
I spoke to Lynette Gray, Life Coach and co-founder of Unearth Your Power.
A single mother battling post natal depression after the birth of her son, it occurred to her that she’d always had negative voices and limiting beliefs… but now they had become particularly loud.
It was her doctor who advised her to ‘read stuff’ as she puts it, and who set her on a path of taking personal accountability for her own journey.
“I realized I was being a victim” she says “it was my personal development work that made me see that if I changed my thoughts, I could change my life”
Shift your self image
“I shifted my self image” she said, explaining how she literally reprogrammed her brain through affirmations and practicing visualization techniques, “I started to believe in myself and I surrounded myself with people who believed in me too, and who refused to allow me to play small. And I had a vision of who I’d be in ten years time – someone who’s helping other people to be their best selves”
Lynette’s experience points to the fact that how we think of ourselves defines who we are. Usually that self image stems from years of incoming messages from parents, teachers, society – all manner of external influences – which we absorb and which become part of our own internal dialogue.
Recognising these influences and choosing to define ourselves is a crucial starting point for personal growth and success – something that Lynette now includes in her own client work.
Trust the process
Personal change doesn’t happen overnight: old habits die hard, and both persistence and determination are part of equation. To coin the cliché- ‘winners never quit, and quitters never win’
Mark Wilkinson, whose book ‘Life Remixed’ launched on 2nd March 2021 and immediately became an Amazon International Bestseller. In it, he shares his own story and the strategies he used to ‘remix’ his life, and he spoke to me about his own personal journey.
With a high flying career as an international house music DJ whose work took him all over the world, Mark was actually living the dream. Then one day he physically collapsed, was unable to move and was diagnosed with an incurable disease which left him in so much pain he was almost suicidal.
However, it was a friend pushing a personal development book into his hand and saying ‘read this’ that marked the start of his journey back to the top.
“It wasn’t just about reading books, though, it was about doing what they said” he says “some of it didn’t make sense when you thought about it logically – you just had to trust the process”
This sense of trusting the process even if results aren’t immediate is also a feature of those whose bold decisions have taken them forward.
Despite his own remarkable story of turnaround Mark remains modest “I’m not special – I did it you can do it”.
Scott Weir is well known in Scotland as an entrepreneur and property management company owner – but like Lynette and Mark, he’s had to overcome challenging personal circumstances to get where is is today.
Leaving the Navy in his 20s (having joined in his teens) he realized that his future depended entirely on his own drive and determination.
“I came from a background where no-one went to university” he says “but I’d decided that I was going to get an MBA before I was 30”
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the qualifications to get a decent job, so I worked as a cleaner at nights to earn the money to put myself through university”
On graduating, he started in the property management business and the rest, as they say, is history.
So where does this leave us? Are these people superhuman, and gifted with powers that we lesser mortals don’t possess?
No. Core principles underpin all their journeys:
1. An unshakable belief that ‘there must be more than this’
Fundamentally, this means stepping out of a victim mindset that blames life, luck and external circumstances and instead takes on a proactive ‘there is more… and I will find a way’ approach.
2. The determination to define yourself
So many of us accept the labels that society, family, friends, teachers – so many external influences – have attached to us. A key to success is choosing to shake these off, and to define yourself.
3. The presence of mind to set a clear vision
Call it a goal, a vision, an intention – having a clear future focus and the courage to take resolute steps towards it marks the difference between those with dreams they never achieve, and those whose success stories serve as an inspiration to others.
4. Find a follow a proven process that works for you… and trust that process
Despite many ‘gurus’ telling us that their way forward is the only way… there IS no cookie cutter approach that works for everyone, just a core set of principles that can be adapted to any situation. Don’t keep switching lanes – find a path that works for you and follow it… and trust the process.
5. Just do it
Merely knowing what to do isn’t enough. Waiting until the circumstances are right or until you’re ‘ready’ are pointless – those times will never come.
Take action… and the road will rise to meet your feet
Is there, then, a brave hero in all of us, if we choose to follow the path? Do we have the courage? These, friends, are the questions we must ask ourselves.