Global Resilience Solutions > Category:self confidence

Turn Your Luck Around with Vicarious Victories

It never rains, but what it pours
If Lady Luck should happen to desert you
A bit of rain is never going to hurt you
So wait and the skies will be blue

– “It Never Rains, But What It Pours”

In all of our lives, there are periods when we lack inspiration and motivation. It may feel as if you’ve lost too many battles. If your every effort appears to be thwarted, it can be intensely discouraging. And why not feel down? It’s understandable to feel low when nothing seems to go right. And when things are looking up, it’s a great feeling!

The good news is, as humans, we are very suggestible beings. It is possible to feel like you’re winning again simply by being around high-achieving people – there’s a reason people gravitate to success. This works similarly to that feeling of joy and accomplishment when your favorite hockey or football team wins – all you did was watch from the sidelines, but it feels almost as good as if you scored that goal or touchdown!

By surrounding yourself with people that you respect and admire, you can become more like them. Maintain friendships that raise you up and inspire you to succeed – their victories can become your victories!

A young woman I know was feeling worried about her career choices. She couldn’t figure out where her path in life was, and she was concerned that she would never find a job that suited her. Then, one day in the library, she stumbled across a biography of Jane Goodall. “I was just so inspired by her. I loved reading about her successes, but how she overcame her failures was even more interesting. The best part is, I feel we have so much in common! It really makes me feel as if I can accomplish some of the things she did, as we both had similar beginnings.” That young woman has decided to study zoology, and she is doing well. It was fascinating to hear about how a vicarious experience could be turn into a personal success!

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a motivational movie or reading an inspirational book, one that really spoke to you on a personal level? It can be very rewarding! So why wait to have a vicarious victory? Make deliberate efforts to experience inspiration. Watch movies others have found uplifting, read books about people you admire, and you’ll feel as if the world is full of possibilities.  And it is!

I spoke with people about their favorite sources of motivation and came up with many inspiring films:

Yes Man (Jim Carrey, Zoe Deschanel) – for those who have trouble saying yes to life!
Julie and Julia (Amy Adams, Meryl Streep) – for the cooks out there!
Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) – for sports fans
Rudy (Sean Astin) – another one for sports fans – the young man I spoke to told me his gym teacher used to put this on at least once a month, and every time.
Dead Poet’s Society – for writers, teachers
Forest Gump – I warn you, it’s a tearjerker! A classic film
Billy Elliot – for anyone who believes they can’t do something because of who they are and where they come from

Inspiring People to Read About

Jane Goodall
Nelson Mandela
Al Gore
Maya Angelou
Roméo Dallaire
 Mahatma Gandhi
Mother Theresa of Calcutta
The Dalai Lama
Margaret Atwood

It can also be helpful to listen to motivational speakers. This Harvard Commencement Speech by is JK Rowling is very inspirational:

Now get out there and get motivated. And remember, the more you experience vicarious victories, the sooner you’ll experience your own REAL victories!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Learn Life Skills for Extreme Situations

The sun was blazing, the terrain barren and unforgiving, and the instructors were working us hard.  The extra twenty pounds or so of gear we were wearing just added to the fatigue – a Kevlar vest, knee and elbow pads, sometimes a helmet, a pistol strapped to the right thigh and an American M4 or Russian Kalashnikov assault rifle in hand…
                            At the firing range, carrying an M4 assault rifle
That was last week for me.  I was privileged to attend an elite training course down in the deserts of the south-western US, a course taught by special forces veterans and frequently attended by everyone from members of such elite organizations as the British SAS or Canada’s JTF2, to ordinary people facing deployment to the world’s most dangerous trouble spots. 
(The trip also allowed me to explore some issues of leadership, teamwork and corporate culture with these people.  Did you know that what we consider the most advanced leadership and corporate culture solutions in the corporate world today were actually developed by special forces units decades ago?)
The “Yang” Side of Resilience Training
You may have noticed I like to divide resilience training into its “Yin” and “Yang” aspects.  And I tend to talk more about the Yin or “soft” aspects, such as meditation, mindfulness, Qi Gong, Yoga, nutrition, relationship skills and the like. 
However, we should never forget the other side of the coin – those Yang skills that will keep us and our loved ones alive when the unthinkable happens.
In North America we live the pleasant delusion that we personally will never face an extreme situation.  That situation could be street crime, a home invasion, a natural disaster or something as commonplace as a car accident out in the country, where you’re on the scene and the nearest first responder is still twenty minutes away.  Meanwhile, the accident victim on the ground in front of you may only have two minutes to live, not twenty, unless you personally take some very specific and simple actions.  Do you have the skill sets required?  Do you have the right medical kit with you?  What if that victim were your spouse or child? 
                            Rescuing a man down, moving him and applying 
                                          a tourniquet to save his life
Our delusion is the ingrained belief that we don’t need those skills because the paramedics will save the day.  Likewise we assume we don’t need to know how to carry an unconscious person out of a burning building or know how to defend ourselves because the firemen and police will do it for us. 
Yet the stark reality is that when the s**t hits the fan, you will more than likely be on your own for the first five to fifteen minutes of any serious event.  And by then, it’s very often too late.
The Value of Acquiring Extreme Skills
One of the most challenging features of last week’s course was that you never knew what challenge the instructors would throw at you next!  This is when you find yourself worrying about whether you’ll screw it up and look like an idiot, whether you’ll have the energy, and whether the back muscle you pulled yesterday will hold out…
                            Participant learns how to escape when tied up
                                          with rope, hand-cuffs, etc. 
And then you realize that you just need to surrender.  You can either continue wasting energy worrying about what comes next, or you can surrender, live in the present and mentally let it all go.  So one of the greatest benefits of the kind of training that tests your physical and mental limits is that you learn a lot about yourself. 
Some of the other specific benefits of learning some of life’s extreme skills are:
  • Improving your personal resilience
  • Passing on these skills to those around you
  • Boosting your self-esteem
  • Becoming a greater asset to your family, workplace and community
  • Acquiring the confidence to face extreme situations
  • Learning how to function effectively under extreme stress

                                          Clearing rooms and rescuing hostages (hint: 
                                          the way you see it done on TV shows will get
                                          you killed)

So although the Yin side of resilience training (improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health) is absolutely vital, it’s important not to forget the Yang side of resilience training, where we acquire the personal power and the critical skills to handle life’s most extreme situations. 
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Want to Feel Fantastic? Use Your Body…

Today I promised you I’d talk about the second great resilience activity I undertook last week. 

From the start, I knew last week would be tough – there was lots of work to do in the office, most of it intellectual and a significant drain on my time and creative juices.  So when I realized how preoccupied I was with the workload, and especially with one particular upcoming project, I knew it was time for the distraction strategy.

“Distraction” in this case meant finding some other challenge to take me out of my head, give me more energy and “steal” some of my focus and attention, all with the aim of making me more effective at the intellectual work.

Why Take On Another Challenge?  Isn’t One Enough??

You might think so, and this is where we often delude ourselves.  If I had allowed myself to think, “Oh, so much work… I’d better make sure I have lots of veg time with my favorite TV shows,” the week would have been so much harder!! 

That’s right… I would have found myself with even less energy and working less efficiently.  So here’s what I did instead…

I set the ambitious physical goal of doing 1500 push-ups and 500 squats within 5 days – about triple my usual number.  And here’s what I found:

  • Some joint pain in my hips, one knee and one shoulder went way down and virtually disappeared!
  • My energy level went through the roof (interesting since, as you know, I was on a cleanse at the same time and therefore operating on less and lighter food)
  • Mentally and emotionally I felt fantastic in every way.  Only experience will really convince you what this kind of challenge does for how you feel about yourself and your body.

My daughter found out I was doing this about half way through the week.  She was totally gobsmacked, as they say, and asked, “Aren’t your legs and butt killing you??”  Truth was, I was in no pain at all, which surprised even me 😉 

Some of the lessons that come out of this are:

  1. If you’ve swallowed all the propaganda about the dangers of over-training (which people often interpret as “you shouldn’t do the same exercise two days in a row”), be assured it’s just that – propaganda.  The vast majority of people who exercise are nowhere near their limit and are no more in danger of “over-training” than I am of winning the Boston Marathon 😉
  2. It was the best “distraction” possible – For whatever reason, focusing on the physical goal left me feeling a lot more in control of the mountain of work and supplied a ton of motivation on all fronts.
  3. Those 1500 push-ups and 500 squats took almost NO extra time!  Since I did them in sets of 50 for the push-ups and 25 for the squats, it was easy to squeeze them in whenever I had a few minutes here or there throughout the day.
  4. Do something like this and you’ll feel physically like solid steel, mentally you’ll experience crystal clarity and emotionally you’ll be on top of the world

A Word of Caution:

Yes, as always I have to tell you not to try something like this without the approval of your physician.  In addition, though, you need to pick targets that are doable for you.  I picked these particular exercises only because my body is very familiar with them and because I do them regularly to a certain level.  If you’ve never done these exercises before, they’ll damn near kill you, even if you’re a decent athlete.  

On the other hand, you might pick, say, 25 laps of the front crawl in the pool daily.  I sure wouldn’t do that for myself, only because I haven’t swum laps in years.  If you have, then that might be a target for you.  So it all depends on how in-shape you are and what your body is used to doing.  And the possibilities are endless: walking, running, cycling, weight training, body weight exercises (the ones I used are “body-weight” exercises),  calesthenics, Pilates, Yoga, circuit training, swimming…

Remember, you don’t need to imitate a tri-athlete to get amazing results.  You just have to pick an exercise appropriate for you and a target that’s doable, but a bit of a stretch.  

Try this some time and I’ll pretty much guarantee you’ll never look back!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 

Resilience Tip: Honor Your Occupation

Does your job or career get you down?  Do you ever have the feeling that it doesn’t matter and neither do you? 

Do you think, “Oh, I’m just an accountant crunching numbers all day.  Who cares?!” or “I build websites and they call me a ‘code head’ and a ‘geek.'”? 

One of the most harmful features of our culture is our tendency to undervalue certain jobs and the people in them, while doing the opposite for jobs we consider to confer higher “social status”. 

We fail to notice, or course, that our valuations of different jobs are culturally learned and bear no resemblance to reality.  Actors enjoy great social standing today, for example, whereas they used to be a despised profession. 

I used to work for an organization that greatly undervalued its subject matter experts and greatly overvalued its management.  However, replacing managers was really easy since their skill sets were general and possessed by 30% of the population.  Replacing a subject matter expert was murder – far less than 1% of the population had those skills.  And if your subject matter expert was away, production suffered.  If your manager was away, your production would probably go up!

The bottom line is this: don’t wait for society to value what you do.  No matter what kind of job you have, no matter what kind of mediocrity or stupidity you’re surrounded by, start to consider whatever job you have as truly important.  Give it everything you’ve got.  Forget what others think and don’t apologize for what your line of work, even if you don’t want to stay in it!

Then something amazing will happen.  Once you start giving it your very best, you’ll feel a sense of pride in your work.  You’ll begin to see the importance of what you do and how it positively affects others.  You’ll realize that even if you’re just waiting tables, you’re still serving your country, your fellow citizens and ultimately your place in the great scheme of this magnificent universe. 

Your sense of self-worth will grow.  Your self-confidence will grow.  And finally you’ll probably outgrow the job or career you have now. 

The genius of Authentic Ancient Traditions was the realization that the outward aspect of your work is secondary, because any work your pour yourself into with dedication, sincerity and love can itself become a work of art and a gateway to enlightenment itself.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Resilience Tip: Dare to Believe in Yourself

Isn’t “believing in yourself” it just plain arrogance?  Doesn’t it make you sick when you see someone who is so arrogant and self-assured that he or she won’t listen to anyone?
Sure it does, but there’s a huge difference between healthy self-confidence and the arrogance of the ego.  The arrogant believe in their egos.  Those with a healthy belief in themselves believe in a power greater than themselves.  The arrogant flaunt their opinions, talents and accomplishments.  The wise do something far different…
The wise first empty themselves out to make room for this Greater Power.  They allow themselves to become painfully aware of all their failings and mistakes.  They put aside all their own opinions.  Then they become what the great Sioux medicine man, Frank Fools Crow, called “little hollow bones” – they wait for the Greater Power to enter them, fill them, guide them and make the right path obvious. 
This is why the wise appear to have extraordinary self-confidence without a trace of arrogance.  To watch them, you would say they’re actually humble in their self-confidence.
The arrogant can’t do this, because this Greater Power cannot teach the know-it-all, guide the egotist or perfect the one who thinks himself already perfect. 
When this greater power finds an empty vessel, though, it speedily rushes in.  And then miracles ensue…
Do as the wise do, and you will never lack confidence again.
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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