When Bethany Hamilton was 13, she still dreamed of becoming a professional surfer. But one morning, she was attacked by a tiger shark and lost her entire left arm. Her surfing career appeared to be over before it had begun. But one month after the attack, Bethany was surfing again and within two years she had won her first national surfing title.
What was it that allowed Bethany to rise above her challenges while so many of us allow circumstances to limit us?
Resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions. When life throws obstacles at you, how do you respond? Do you rise to the occasion or give up and feel hopeless?
Resilient people are rarely victims. Resilience keeps you from being at the effect of your circumstances and instead allows you to persevere during challenging times.
What causes some of us to be resilient or not?
Our beliefs about ourselves, life, and the world. Here’s an example.
Letha, her husband Tom, and her brother Larry owned and managed a successful 4-color film engraving business during the ’80s and ’90s in Nashville, home of country music. They and their 30 employees prepared the film used for printing album covers, cassettes, and CDs. Their clients were CBS Records (later Sony Music), Capitol Records, RCA Records, and many others.
They invested in equipment costing over half a million dollars in order to accomplish the film preparation for albums, cassettes, and CDs. They jumped on board when personal computers grew in importance and prominence. Tom, VP of Operations, realized that these desktop computers would eventually be able to do what all of their high-end equipment could do easily. Meaning their printing business could not last.
As a result, many of her competitors folded in the 2000s. But Letha stayed in business. How?
First, when she saw a big problem on the horizon, she didn’t panic. Instead, she sought out new opportunities. She noticed that many of her clients wanted help with their online presence. So she and her husband Tom created a website design studio.
Changing to a new business model might seem like the obvious move. However, almost none of her competitors were able to do so. Many of them were just too overwhelmed by the challenge. But not Letha. She was excited to learn everything she could about designing websites and marketing her new business.
So why was Letha able to adapt so well when her competitors failed to do so?
She had some empowering beliefs such as “I can learn anything if I just break it down.” For example, I once asked her how she learned PowerPoint. She said, “I got on and I failed and failed until I learned.” Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she took on the role of caretaker for her mom and had her move in even though she had a husband and a business to run. She did the same for her in-laws when they could no longer be alone. Her beliefs allowed her to face these challenges without getting overwhelmed.
But Letha will tell you, this wasn’t always so
She was one of the first people to experience the Lefkoe Method 30 years ago. She eliminated many common self-esteem beliefs like “I’m not good enough”, I’m not capable,” and “Mistakes and failures are bad.” Letha told me recently that she is not the same person she was before working on those beliefs.
Life throws us curve balls from time to time. Whether it’s the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, or a disappointment of any kind, being resilient will allow you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into life empowered and ready to take on the next challenge.
We are often unable to change some of the circumstances of our lives. Bethany Hamilton couldn’t grow another arm. But she maintained the belief that she could still become a world-class surfer and that’s what allowed Bethany to stay focused on her goals. It’s our beliefs that determine our behavior, not events.
I believe with all my heart that you can boost your resilience by getting rid of the beliefs that are at the cause of your suffering.
Self Made: How Entrepreneurs Change Their Beliefs When Change is Hard
For the past few years, I’ve been working on a book with my friend Vahan Yapremian on how entrepreneurs can overcome limiting beliefs that hold them back.
It’s tentatively titled Self Made: How Entrepreneurs Change their Beliefs When Change is Hard. It should be out in several months. If you’re interested, you can let us know by adding your email address to the form at this link:
We’ll then give you updates as we make progress on the book and let you know when you can get it.