Saturday, June 14, 2008

Never Never Never Give Up

I recently picked up a book while endlessly waiting for a flight to take off. In the book I came across a very important statement, rather a profound truth articulated by Dr. Karl Menninger (a psychiatrist). He said,"Attitudes are more important than facts."

It basically means that any fact facing us, however difficult, or seemingly hopeless, is not so important as is our attitude towards that fact.

The author of that book said that this statement is worth repeating until its truth grips you. I couldn't agree more. I was instantly reminded of Winston Churchill's final speech. Winston Churchill was emphatically introduced. He slowly made his way to the podium, looked at the assembly and said, "Never give up; never, never, never give up."

For the record - He was in his 90's, in very poor health, and was speaking to his former high school pupils. His attitude, however was never in its 90's and never in poor health.

How often have you told yourself, "That's not fair," and the feeling of being a victim of circumstances made you feel like giving up? Not too often I hope. It begs the question though that never give up on exactly what? I intuitively know he means never give up trying, but upon personal reflection (and lots of it) I understand that it's about never giving up hope.

I heard from a researcher of cancer patients who have been in survival experiences. They all agree that once hope is removed, it's very easy to give up, and at that point dying becomes the likely outcome. There are instances of patients in almost similar physical conditions; where some defied the odds and survived when the situation seemed hopeless; while their companions simply gave up and quickly passed away.

it's very easy to focus on the negative aspects of the past or the present, it's very comfortable to imagine that nothing will change. I say comfortable because it then allows us to crib and cringe (mostly to our own mind) in a manner where the responsibility for the change has shifted outside of us. Outside of our control. It's someone else's fault or someone else's responsibility. AND obviously there is a reality formed - that you cannot do anything about it.

My friend, attitude is more important than fact. The fact might well be that you are in a hopeless situation. However if you have given up hope, then, most definitely, the fact will forever be a reality.

The chief problem really is that we allow hopelessness to enter our minds and discolor and distort our outlook. We do this because we get consumed by the facts.

So what does a positive attitude mean? Simply put - "Have faith in your abilities." It sounds really simple. And you can do it very easily. Let me share with you a real-life narration from one of my coaching sessions.

This particular coaching assignment was with a vice-president of a retail company. The session is inspired by a technique I learned long time back in a book (I am struggling with the name right now but it's a must read and I'll post it in my next mail). He has been in this role for years and years. He is disgruntled about it for obvious reasons. He hasn't got a promotion in a long time. He is seeing other divisions of the company grow, his peers being promoted, salaries rising for everybody.....

In my first session with him he says,"Why are you coaching me. I am 54 years old. i have nothing to achieve. I am here in this role for the last 12 years and will be till retirement. I have nothing to look forward to. I'll do my job well. I am too old to start over again or find a more exciting job. My and my family's standard of living will remain where it is. I have accepted that this is it."

I asked him "Nothing to look forward to." "Nothing" he repeated.

I asked him if we could write down things he likes or enjoys. "There's no use. Nothing will change", he said.

I told him that let's just see anyways and started writing for him. I asked him if his wife loved him. He said "of course she does. We've been married thirty years." I asked him about his children - he said he has three daughters and they call him everyday before he leaves for work and tell him that they love him and are very proud of him. He emphatically tells me, "not a day they miss."

I said Friends? He said that he doesn't have too many friends but there are a couple of them since college days who are with him always. In good times and in bad. "They keep exploring opportunities for me. I tell them the same thing. There is no point."

I asked him what was his most treasured value in life. He said "honesty, I've never harmed anyone or lied to anyone." I asked him how his health was. He said,"A few problems here and there but I keep pretty good health. I can walk a few miles more than the youngsters in my locality can."

I asked him if he believes in India's growth story. He said'"of course I do. This is the place to be in." Finally I asked him if he was religious and he replied,'I believe in God. I am thankful for what I have."

I turned to him the small sheet of paper I'd been writing on. It read:

1- A wife that loves me- 30 years
2- Three daughters who are proud of me.
3- Two friends who explore opportunities for me almost everyday.
4- Honesty -
5- Good health.
6- India is growing and I am here.
7- I believe in God.

I told him, 'I thought you said there was nothing to look forward to."

He said to me,"I never looked at it that way." The ONLY thing that changed for him was a shift from thinking about his negative situation at work to a faith that he does have things going for him. He can, if he wishes, chose to embrace them.

He took that list from me. It still hangs on his pin-up board. It's been three years. He tells me he reads it everyday and draws a lot of energy from it. This gentleman who is a very wonderful human being is today the President, enjoys a higher salary, is responsible for another division and I guess is generally much happier.

We can all chose to focus forever on problems, negative situations or on something we do not have and reinforce it all our lives. We can also focus on what we have. we can at the very least have faith in our own abilities.

I'll repeat again Attitude is more important than fact. It's also the perfect reason why you must focus on a positive future, take actions that give you the hope and belief that things are going to be great, and never, never, never give up (on hope).

Chetan Walia

By Chetan Walia

Chetan Walia: is a creative, on-the-edge, speaker with unquestionable expertise on sales and breakthrough achievement. Chetan is known for programs that are funny, insightful, and in setting landmarks in learning.

OVER 100 COMPANIES. Chetan has delivered corporate programs and coaching programs on achievement to over a hundred organizations.

CORPORATE CUSTOMERS. Our clients include Airtel, American Express, Coffee Day, Ernst & Young, Suzuki, Mother Dairy, Pepsi, PriceWaterHouse, Sanofi, Sasken, United Nations, World Bank.

Coach. Chetan is a coach and mentor to some of the senior most executives in the country.

Breaking Barriers: Has been known to not only break barriers of the mind through our programs but also has broken may an industry barriers (that were thought to be so called norms) to generate breakthroughs.

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