Attitude is Everything

Big Setbacks, Big Victories

"Everything flows out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right, is the measure of the swing to the left." - The Kybalion

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, interviewed hundreds of the most successful people in the early 1900s, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie.

After conducting these extensive interviews, Hill observed that the greatest successes of many of these individuals came on the heels of their greatest failures and disappointments. Interesting, isn't it?

Of course, the principle works the other way as well. If you have a victory, you can expect to experience a corresponding setback or difficulty. For purposes of this article, we're going to focus on the seemingly negative events that precede victories.

In an ancient text known as The Kybalion, there is a discussion of The Law of Rhythm, which includes the metaphor of the pendulum. The pendulum swings to the left, and then the pendulum swings to the right. This applies to all of our life experiences and moods. According to this notion, those who experience large DOWNS will eventually experience large UPS.

Let's begin by looking at some examples from the world of athletics. Consider the road that the Boston Red Sox traveled to win the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox had not won a world championship in 86 years (that's since 1918!) and had suffered several agonizing playoff and World Series defeats during that long stretch.

To get into the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox had to defeat the Yankees in a best of seven game series. To make matters worse, their best pitcher, Curt Schilling, sustained a serious foot injury right before the series began.

The Yankees won the first three games of the series. The Yankees won Game 3 by the lopsided score of 19-8 and everyone wrote off the Red Sox at that point. Talk about being in a hole! In the history of postseason baseball, 25 teams had faced this situation, trailing 3-0. Not a single one of them had been able to win four straight games.

In Game 4, the Red Sox trailed by a run with only four outs to go in the game, and had to face one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball history, the Yankees' Mariano Rivera. They managed to tie the score against him and went on to win the game in extra innings. Then, they won Game 5 in Boston, bringing the series to 3-2 in the Yankees' favor.

Miraculously, the Red Sox won the next two games, beating the Yankees on their home turf in New York to win the series 4-3. Boston went on to beat St. Louis four straight games to capture the World Series.

Most teams - and most individuals - quit when they face difficulties like the Red Sox faced. But the Red Sox hung in and turned some huge setbacks into a never-to-be-forgotten triumph.

Another example from the world of sports is gymnast Mary Lou Retton. After training with great discipline for years leading up to the 1984 Olympics, Mary Lou suffered a knee injury just six weeks before the Olympics. She had broken cartilage in her knee and needed surgery. The doctor told her she couldn't compete in the Olympics - that she would need to rehab the knee for 3 months.

Mary Lou would not accept the doctor's prediction and would not give up on a dream she had worked so hard to achieve. She completed the rehabilitation in 3 weeks - instead of 3 months - and went on to win 5 Olympic medals, including an individual gold medal. Life tested Mary Lou by throwing her a big setback at the last moment. But because of her magnificent attitude and faith, she overcame that obstacle to become an Olympic Champion.

Another great athlete, Lance Armstrong, was diagnosed with cancer in 1996 and was given a 50% chance of surviving. As you know, he has now won seven consecutive Tour de France championships. From the brink of death... to one of the most impressive accomplishments in sports history. The pendulum sure took a big swing in the opposite direction in Lance's life!

Naturally, this principle isn't limited to sports. When I think about someone who turned a huge setback into an extraordinary victory, Candace Lightner comes to mind. In 1980 in California, she learned that her 13-year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver who struck the girl from behind on the sidewalk. To make matters worse, the driver was a repeat offender out on bail.

It's hard to imagine anything more tragic than losing your child in this way. Who could blame Candace if she retreated from life and became very negative? But that's not what she did. Just four months after the death of her daughter, Candace and a group of women in California created an organization called MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

I'll bet that you're very familiar with MADD. This group has been extremely successful raising awareness and influencing legislation concerning drunk driving. Once again, a crushing setback laid the groundwork for a stunning accomplishment.

You don't have to form a national organization or become a celebrity to activate this principle. It's at work in your life all the time. Furthermore, the concept isn't limited to monumental setbacks and disappointments.

Let me bring it a little closer to home. Have you ever had a job where you were fired or downsized - and then went on to find a better job or started your own business? Ever have a relationship with someone that ended - and you were devastated - yet you went on to a better relationship?

Or, perhaps you looked for a house or apartment and thought you had located the place of your dreams. You were incredibly excited. And then somehow the deal fell through. Then something else came along - another place - and it was even better than the original dream house! You were so glad that the first deal fell through.

In each case, a setback preceded a positive outcome. When you suffer a setback in your life, it's only natural to feel frustrated and disappointed. But don't let the setbacks destroy your attitude. Don't give up. Remember that difficulties precede victories.

Get excited about the possibilities that are in store when the pendulum swings back the other way. As Harriet Beecher Stowe wisely said: "When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems that you cannot hold on for a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

-- Jeff Keller
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