I’m part of a small group of amazing group of entrepreneurs. We get together once a month to talk about things we’re working on and issues we need help with. This week, we did a group development offsite, which was incredibly helpful because as an entrepreneur, you don’t get a lot of personal development.
One of the exercises we did was called a Lifeline Exercise where we had to list six significant events that have most impacted our lives. We had to reflect on how they made us feel, how they changed the course of our lives, and if we had any regrets.
As I listed out my six things – all of my failures and successes, there was one common theme. It had nothing to do with being smart or strategic, being the best, being lucky, or who I knew. In all of the events that I listed that really impacted my life, they were moments where I was faced with adversity or the possibility of failure and I decided not to quit. I put my head down and worked my butt off to get through it. I always came out the other end better for it and they have become the most meaningful experiences of my life.
I remember vividly sitting on the side of a volcano overlooking a coffee plantation during my Peace Corps service in El Salvador. I was 25, six months into my 27-month service. At that time there was no social media and I didn’t even have a phone. (OMG, I know.) I was sick a lot, didn’t love the food, didn’t know anyone, and unclear about whether or not the work I was doing was meaningful. I remember feeling incredibly lonely. Like, SO lonely. I just wanted to go home.
But I didn’t. I decided that I had an opportunity to take control of the situation and make it what I want it to be. Quitting would have been easy, and comfortable and a relief. I took quitting out of my consideration set and honed in on what gave me energy. There are scenarios where quitting is the right thing to do. But in this case, quitting because it’s hard isn’t an option. Sticking it out was worth it because my Peace Corps experience became one of the richest experiences of my life to date.
Now when I feel defeated, or like I don’t know how to push forward, I draw on those feelings on the side of the volcano that day. I use it as a construct to figure out how to move on. It gave me the confidence to know that even in the most foreign scenarios, I can find a way out if I just make up my mind to do so and work hard. Some call that grit. Whatever it is, it has worked for me in many scenarios.
How do you get through when you get stuck?