A Note To My Readers: You may have noticed I took a six month hiatus from blogging on my site. The biggest reason is mentioned in this post. If you’re one of my subscribers and committed readers, I’m grateful for your attention. I will begin to add more content to the site in the days and weeks ahead.
I love comeback stories. They share the journey of someone who had tasted success and rose to the top of his or her game. But somewhere along the way this person encountered a tragedy. Perhaps it was an injury, or a poor decision, or a crisis beyond his or her control. But the story doesn’t end there. Out of that difficulty this person got up off the floor and worked even harder to get back on top.
I think we all love a comeback story because it describes what’s best about the human spirit. It helps us to see that a person may be defeated…but doesn’t have to stay defeated. Whether or not the comeback story ends with someone hoisting a trophy or winning the election or standing on a podium doesn’t really matter all that much. What matters is we get to observe someone who is pursuing a dream that wouldn’t die. We watch someone who is willing to work even harder to pursue what he or she is passionate about.
When we hear about these stories or watch them unfold, there is something that inspires us to re-commit to our own dreams and passions. If that person can do it, then why can’t we? Perhaps we lost our focus and we stopped pursuing our purpose for some reason. Maybe we met defeat in some way and we stayed down.
In many ways, I am attempting my own comeback. I am choosing to fulfill the dreams God has planted within me in the face of my own crisis. In order to do that, here are the five steps I need to take.
1. Recognize what got you headed in the wrong direction in the first place.
In order to get up and not get knocked down again (at least not by the same thing) it is important to learn as much as you can about what stopped your progress. In my situation, I went through a divorce this past fall. Divorce is difficult. It is an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual unraveling that causes pain and loneliness and uncertainty. While this post isn’t about divorce recovery, my circumstances require I learn all that I can about my own shortcomings that led to this split. I have to identify and own my stuff. If all you do is blame someone else for your difficulty, you’ll be stuck in a downward spiral and never fully recover from your crisis. Once you take responsibility, then you are empowered to respond in ways that will help you grow.
I’ll add one more thing. If you don’t take the time to recognize the patterns or behaviors or crisis that got you headed in the wrong direction, then you’re likely to repeat those things again and again.
2. Ask yourself: Why?
If you are going to do the hard work to make a comeback, you have to know why. You have to get crystal clear about what you’re hoping to accomplish. You may think you know why, but you need to go deeper. You need to connect your “why” to your values, to your life’s mission, and to your legacy. Your “why” will become the driving force that will enable you to change and to put forth your effort in effective ways. Isn’t it obvious? If you don’t change you’ll end up getting the same results. Plus, comebacks are hard. Your “why” must be strong enough to motivate you to pay the price that will be necessary. Spend time reflecting on these “why” questions:
- Why were you defeated?
- Why do you want to move forward?
- Why now?
One more thing about “why.” You may discover that your own actions and behavior contributed greatly to your demise. But that’s a good thing. Because the only person you can truly change is yourself. So now you know what and who to focus on.
3. Set your sights on a goal, a target.
It’s easier to figure out what a comeback looks like in sports. It’s measurable. Not all things in life are so easy to define. This is why you need to put a target on the wall that you will work toward. Now that you’ve tasted defeat, what does success look like for you? Will you alter your dream and pursue something even more worthwhile and significant? Sometimes it takes a crisis in our lives to wake us up to the fact we’ve grown comfortable. It may reveal how we’ve lost our appreciation of life. We simply react. A goal makes us more intentional. It is the target that determines where we’ll aim our efforts.
One more thing about your goal. Go ahead and make it BIG. Choose something that you will have to stretch for. Aim for something that will require your continued growth and effort. And if it’s something you can accomplish all by yourself…it’s not big enough.
4. Do something every day.
If you want to change the trajectory of your life, you need to find ways to incorporate your comeback efforts into your daily routine. Improvement doesn’t happen overnight. It requires incremental change. If you are trying to comeback from an injury, you have to engage in activities that will lead to your healing, strengthening, and depending on that area of your body again. That takes consistent effort over time…not effort once in awhile.
If I could add one more thing to this area, I would encourage you to do something everyday that stretches you a little bit. For example, last week I was running three miles a day (yes…on purpose). This week, I’m running 3.5 miles a day. When I started at the beginning of March, I was lucky to run/walk two miles.
5. Find joy in the process.
Defeat can be discouraging. In the wake of my divorce, I was battling all kinds of emotions that tampered with my self-esteem, determination, and focus. I lost my sense of momentum and internal motivation. This blog sat quietly for six months while I’ve been reflecting on my decisions, re-connecting with my “why”, and finding a goal worth working toward on a daily basis. Today is one more step in the process of my own comeback. I’m writing this post with a renewed sense of purpose and a belief in my calling to develop lifelong leaders. As I type these words, I recognize how I allowed a part of me to die over the last few years. It feels like that part of me is coming back to life. That’s something to be joyful about.
One more thing…joy isn’t the same as happiness. I’m not happy in the slightest about my divorce, especially how it impacts my children. But I think no matter where we’re at in life we get to make a choice. We can wallow in complacency in the midst of our setbacks or we can work toward our greatest dreams and inspire others by the story of our comeback.
Do you need to make a comeback in your own life? Which one of these five steps resonated with you?
What if you could lead yourself better in such a way that it helped you lead others better?
Leadership Starts With You is just what you need to kickstart the process.
(Available on Kindle & Nook)