When The Going Gets Tough...The Tough Get Going! (November 2008)

There are difficult times for many. With the mortgage meltdown, banking crisis stock market devaluation, declining job market, etc., many people and business are hurting. You can see it everywhere. But have you noticed that some people confront hard times head on and continue to pursue their goals? They simply won’t quit, because quitting is not an option for them. We certainly can learn from these tough thinkers in times like these. I have identified seven characteristics of tough thinkers that I believe we can all learn from:

Controlled Perception - Tough thinkers view adversity from a position of control. They understand life in terms of what they can control and what they cannot. They view tough circumstances and ask themselves, “What can I control in this situation?” They may discover that the only thing they can control is their own reaction to the situation.

Courage - Winston Churchill said it best, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all other qualities.” Everything else emanates from your willingness to face adversity head on. Hemingway defined courage as “grace under pressure.”

Limited Focus - When tough thinkers face adversity, they limit the reach and scope of the problem. They understand that to eat an elephant, it can only be done one bite at a time. Compartmentalizing the problem helps focus your energy by creating workable solutions.

Creativity - Tough thinkers always think their way out of problems. To become more creative you must be able to be think out of the box. Approaching the problem differently will help to create solutions.

Optimism - Tough thinkers are fundamentally positive in their thinking, but their optimism is more than just happy thoughts. They draw from an experience of confidence and hope. They have a core belief that it is their right to live a positive life. They know there is no amount of adversity that will keep them from achieving their goals.

Perseverance - Tough thinker know they will keep trying until they succeed. They understand that quitting is not an option. Every challenge in the economy will lead to future opportunities. They also understand that adversity does not last forever and when it passes, they will  be ready to take advantage.

Humor - Finally, you can’t take life too seriously. Sometimes this may seem difficult but finding a humorous side to all that besets you is sometimes the best anecdote. Plato wrote, “Even the gods love jokes.”

We are living in a time where it seems we are being tested at every turn. Yet during this Thanksgiving season, perhaps we should take note and give thanks for all the blessings we have received. Life is a miracle - be thankful for each and every day.