There is an old movie called Galaxy Quest, about a group of actors who, having enjoyed better days (professionally and in their personal lives), still perform together occasionally at Mall Openings and conventions. Their common bond is the fact that, long ago, they all starred in a successful TV Sci-fi show (of the same name as the title).
The movie has its moments, particularly at the start when they are kidnapped by an alien race and get embroiled in the middle of a war with a planet of lizards. It is a simple case of mistaken identity.
It seems that the aliens picked-up the TV signals in space and thought that the crappy TV show episodes were in fact historical documents about a group of invincible warriors who saved planets from extinction, while in fact we know they were a bunch of semi-retired second rate actors doing weekly shows in front of cardboard sets.
This movie always comes to mind, not because it is anything outstanding, but because almost every time I give a lecture about creativity or art I get asked by professionals, artists and university students alike, about what are in my mind the most important aspects that help in building a successful career.
Success is many things to many people, and I am not going to try to define it here. Suffice to say that I am assuming that we are talking about attaining some of what we search in life (it may be recognition, love, a family, money, power, a career, and so on).
Furthermore, I am in favor of defining success and failure in every aspect of our lives if we wish, and as we wish. In my case, I let others run races set by someone else. I run my own.
And that may be the first point. You are the master of your own life. You set your destination, and it is up to you to decide how you wish to go about it. I am a great believer that the power of “we” is far superior to the power of “me”, but I have to know where I am going before I can invite others to tag along, or join up with others in their journey.
Many concepts can be added on from there – creativity, solidarity, positive thinking, conscience, ethics, hard work, intelligence, responsibility, self-discipline, clairvoyance of sorts, and so on -, but there is one that is a must. One which to me is so important that it may help to bring you over the other side even when you lack some of those qualities.
In “Galaxy Quest” they keep repeating the catch phrase of the show, which happens to be “Never give up! Never surrender!”. In fact the whole movie is based on this very premise. Not giving up and not surrendering (no matter how ridiculous, scary, or ridiculously scary the situation may be). What they are talking about is nothing more than “resilience”.
Merrian-Webster defines the concept of resilience in general as “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”.
That, translated to a human capacity, refers to a quality that allows some people to absorb pressure and failure, and convert it into something positive. The old fashion “taking on the knocks and coming back stronger than ever” attitude.
Some people innately have this quality. Yet for others, it is a matter of learning. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that will categorize someone as resilient.
The most common seems to be optimism. It does not mean blindness to reality. It just means having a positive attitude even after being burned down. It means doing a Phoenix like flip and rising from the ashes. It means taking on apparent failure and turning it into a lesson on the way to success. It makes people capable of adapting intelligently and quickly to change, adjusting their outlook promptly and soldiering on.
Resilience is at the essence of very successful people (whether they are at the top of the corporate heap or are just a great mum or dad). It is what keeps us going our way when everyone else is also telling us to go, but away.
Sometimes, hitting the proverbial wall has to do with schemas, pre-formatted ideas people have about how things “should” be (many companies also have them and they show up, for example, when seeking new personnel). Sometimes there are other issues and we should always revise our own attitudes as well (it is not a matter of simply placing blame somewhere else either).
But that adaptability, resistance, aptitude and attitude is what allows us to take in responses from others that feel, very often, like a slap in the face and comeback with the best scorecard we have ever done. It means jumping over, letting go by, or simply ignoring the negatives along the way so we can make it to where we want to go.
One great example of this was recently given by Jack Ma. He said: “I failed 3 times in college. I applied 30 times to get a job but I have always been rejected. When KFC came to China for the first time, we were 24 to apply and I was the only one to be dismissed. I wanted to go into the police and out of 5 postulants, I was the only one not to be accepted. I applied 10 times to return to Harvard and I was rejected. Never give up because you failed once, twice…just understand that failure is only how we are shown another way to reach our intended route”.
Just in case you don´t know, Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba, which together with Amazon are the two largest e-commerce websites in the world. He is also the 22nd richest person in the world with $29.8 billion dollars, according to Forbes.
So…just never give up, never surrender. Learn, adapt, spring back, and find your way to your own kind of success.
Until next time,
©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera