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There are many stories of people who have experienced and survived one crisis after another.
- They looked at the remains of what was their home after a tornado and saw a pile of rubble.
- They were hit financially when the market tanked and saw empty bank accounts.
- Others may have escaped their home country when it was overrun by enemies.
- Soldiers coming home from war, injured physically and psychologically, suddenly face a new enemy – they no longer fit in. They ask themselves, “Who am I now?”
In each situation, their first concern was to survive.
Next it was, “Where do I go from here?”
Perhaps you can recall times in your own life when you asked yourself, “Now what do I do?”
But you picked yourself up and started over.
Last month we explored what survival was like and how it impacts our lives. You identified where you were on the spectrum of survival and rebuilding.
Now let’s take that next step.
5 steps to begin the process of rebuilding
Step 1: Take whatever you have and make something even better from it.
When listening to comments from people who have gone through tornadoes and you see in front of them that pile of rubble that used to be their home, you also hear them tell reporters, “We will rebuild. We will start over.” The challenge was daunting.
But deep inside they knew they had recovered from catastrophes in the past and they could do it again. It wasn’t the first time they experienced losses. Despite the enormity of such an endeavor, they knew they could begin again.
Step 2: Believe in yourself. Failure isn’t the end – it is the beginning.
Everyone gets discouraged. When life hits hard, we begin to doubt. At such times we forget the many times we had to start over.
Don’t allow uncertainty to take over. Remember what it took to learn to walk, or play baseball, or cook a meal or build a business.
In the process of living, we will start, stop, and fail many times. But that’s not the end. That is the beginning. You have what it takes inside you. You just need to ignite that belief and put it to work for you.
Many famous people, like Mozart and Beethoven, struggled with failure and struggled to keep going anyway. Rekindle the belief that you can make it.
Step 3: Support. Everyone needs a hand up.
Reach out and grab hold of a hand extended to you.
Reach out and grab hold of someone’s hand who is struggling and offer them your support.
Eric Greitens, a Navy Seal, wrote letters to a fellow decorated veteran who was struggling to re-identify himself after returning home. He had fallen into a deep pit of despair and addiction. Later, Eric compiled those letters into Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, a book I couldn’t recommend more highly.
Many times, when struggling to rebuild, we reach a breaking point. At such times we need more than good intentions. We need a good friend or loving family member who believes in us, who cares and is willing to walk beside us when the journey gets rough.
Step 4: Become resilient
We will fail. And fail many times. As Eric Greitens writes in his book, “Beginning again as often as it takes, creates resilience – a determination to succeed.” We need to activate that resilience and step out.
We learn from doing – not from sitting and contemplating a potential activity.
Think of the many things you have done that began with that desire to learn more. You weren’t looking for perfection. You were looking for the contentment of doing. You could work for hours at something that you felt was important. You didn’t think of failing – only of doing. In the doing was the satisfaction.
My son was an artist and drew constantly from the time he was little onwards. Writers write and write and write. People who like to bake can always be found in the kitchen – that is where they are the happiest. Use that same resilience to start again.
Step 5: Stay focused.
Change your focus to what you like. Incorporate the lessons you learn along the way and step out. It is so easy to take your mind off what you can do and focus instead on what you haven’t done. Read books written by people that have been there and not only survived but thrived.
The lesson to all this is that you can make it.
No matter where you are required to begin, you can make it. Refuse to let the magnitude of rebuilding take away your resilience and determination.
When taking one small step after another, it is surprising how far you can go and how much you can accomplish.