Millions of people fail to reach their full potential. They feel “stuck” in unhappy relationships or they struggle on the job and financially. Some have experienced so much adversity that they’ve lost hope of improving their situations. Many want to improve their lives, but simply do not know how.
Successful Survivors is an “easy read” that provides compelling, relatable stories that emphasize the eight key elements of strength and character that anyone can use to overcome adversity and create personal and professional success.
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Successful Survivors--The 8 Character Traits of Survivors and How You Can Attain
You Have Assets You Haven’t Yet Leveraged
Many people think that no good comes from painful experiences. Some would even say that I’m insensitive for even suggesting such a notion. But believe me when I say that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to surviving pain. Abandoned by my parents and raised by my mentally ill grandfather and my drug-addicted, alcoholic grandmother, I was brought up in a filthy shack the size of a small garage. For most of the first 16 years of my life, I lived in poverty and hunger. I was beaten, burned, yelled at, and cursed out for every reason under the sun (or for no reason at all). I emancipated myself from my status as a ward of the court in California’s child welfare system at age 16. I worked hard, saved my money, and bought my first house at 19, and I purchased my first rental property at 22. I started my first business at 27, and ultimately established, built, and sold two successful companies. I did all of this while my childhood neighbors went on to use and sell drugs, join gangs, have teenage pregnancies, and receive government assistance for years. Now, I write books and speak all over the United States to help others succeed—not just in spite of, but specifically because of what they have been through.
The concept that we are who we are specifically because of the pain we have endured is a difficult one for many people to accept. But the truth is that we all are who we are because of the events that influenced our lives and molded our character, regardless of whether those influences and their results are good or bad. Accepting this truth doesn’t condone what happened, but what’s done is done—you can’t go back and change your past. But you can turn negative events in your past into something positive, by mining the lessons out of your experiences and leveraging the character strengths and coping mechanisms you’ve developed through that pain.
As a result of poverty, I learned to be resourceful. I learned how to get by on next to nothing, and how to fix things that were broken because I couldn't afford to buy a replacement. This resourcefulness has served me well in many areas of life. For example, it was this resourcefulness that led me to figure out what I called “work-arounds” when it seemed there was no way to accomplish what needed to be done on the limited budget of a young entrepreneur with no resources, no family, and no safety net.
As a result of the abuse I suffered, I was bold enough to take risks, including leaving a good job to go into business for myself. I figured that a business failure couldn't hurt as much as those childhood beatings had. The pain of my childhood also made me strong enough to deal with the inevitable setbacks in business, ones that would have devastated other people. I also gained the empathy and the burning desire to see justice done for abuse victims that cannot be learned from a textbook in a classroom. These qualities empowered me to protect people and organizations that care for abused children, which has been my life’s work for over 30 years. The physical and emotional abuse I endured when I was too little to protect myself “inoculated” me, serving as a vaccine for the inevitable challenges and adversities I would face in the business world.
But this mining or digging up of lessons and characteristics from adversity isn't unique to me or my life. Every one of us has acquired characteristics that can help us succeed, both personally and professionally. We can mine these characteristics, coping mechanisms and lessons from all of our experiences—even from the most painful of them. The “good news” is, the more traumatic the experience, the more significant the lessons we can learn, and the stronger our successful survivor characteristics can become. But before we can accomplish this important, transformational work, we must first change the view we have of ourselves.
Survivors of adversity must change their mindset from being a victim to being a survivor. The truth is, victims are often repeatedly victimized; survivors survive. Once we’ve made the powerful shift in our thinking from victim to survivor, the next step is to rise up to the next level, becoming a “successful survivor.” Successful survivors don’t just survive—they thrive. They grow stronger after overcoming adversity. And the pivotal step to this important progression is nothing more than one’s choice of mindset and attitude.
Successful survivors are strong, capable, resilient, tenacious, courageous, resourceful, and so much more—characteristics that are valuable in every relationship, every industry, and every profession. While each successful survivor may not have every one of the characteristics included here, each of them has at least one that has been instrumental in helping them through difficult times. The great news is that all these characteristics can be acquired, developed, and leveraged to unlock and unleash the potential trapped inside those who have survived trauma.
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