Just because something is true does not make it honest. While it is true that parts of life can get in the way of achieving success and happiness, an honest perspective can show us how to minimize those challenges and exploit the opportunities.
It would be easy for me to paint a depressing picture of living with a disability. I could show you how many activities I simply can’t do on my own or that might take more effort to finish. I used to worry about not being there for my kids in the ways I wanted. After all, I cannot help them get dressed, or play sports with them or even whip up a quick lunch for them.
This is all technically 100% true, but if I’m being honest, I have an amazing and fulfilling life. I laugh a lot. Many of my friendships have lasted for decades. I have incredible parents. The honest truth is, I am blessed.
Of course, obstacles will always exist. For instance, it’s harder to make money in a bad economy; growing up in a low socioeconomic neighborhood will narrow your opportunities; and both racism and classism make life much tougher for everyone. These are truths. However, rewriting your narrative is about learning how best to react to these truths. If I spend all my time fretting about my disability, then I will have no energy left to make my dreams a reality.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected us all. I remember worrying at the outset that it might even be enough to tank the US economy. Although I have my gripes with politics and the government, it turned out the US has amazing economic levers that may have prevented a serious depression. That needs to be celebrated. I’m also grateful the US could quickly partner with pharmaceutical companies to get vaccines into our arms. On top of this, tech companies also gave us the tools to work or study from home while in lockdown. THANK YOU ZOOM.
Being honest about where you are and where you want to go is crucial to achieving amazing success. The problem is so few people know how to do this. Instead, when looking at a successful person, their reflex is to invent a strange narrative about them as greedy, tough or that they don’t know how to have fun. Some of this may be true. But successful people also have plenty to teach and learning from them requires abandoning the disastrous “us-vs-them” mindset. The correct reflex is to take the opportunity to glean from them whatever principles and positive work ethic that you can.
I firmly believe the best lessons in life are born out of challenges. Many of these lessons, however, are not obvious and finding them takes introspection and hard work. Again, I could frame my disability in a horrible light. But by using that narrative, I would only end up talking myself out of my goals and dreams of success.
Framing is everything. The only way to achieve amazing success, is to look for what we can exploit about our situation and how we can limit those challenges.