“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” — Maya Angelou
There will come a point in your life, if there hasn’t already, where everything will seem like it’s crumbling around you – your relationship will fall apart, your health will deteriorate, your financial situation will be a mess, etc., etc. – and, unless you can find a way to rise from the ashes, it will be very easy to allow these situations to cripple you.
I know of a lot of folks who live in mediocrity because they never learned to dust themselves off when faced with these negative situations. They never learned how to rise up and become stronger in spite of all of the events that every single one of us will deal with at some point in our lives. Whether you’re dealing with a bankruptcy, separation or divorce, death of a loved one, injury or illness, or a job loss, it’s critical you learn to handle all that life will throw at you.
When these inevitable situations arise, we begin to see that there are really only two types of people:
- those who deal with the situation and find a way to become a better version of themselves and
- those who use their circumstances as a permission slip to self-destruct.
I want to share with you a very simple four-step cycle for overcoming difficult times. I’m sure that you’re familiar with, or at least have heard of the OODA loop
It’s a process that was developed by Air Force colonel, John Boyd. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.
So let's take a closer look at the OODA loop and how it’s applicable in overcoming everyday struggles, challenges, and adversity.
Maybe you have just gotten your butt kicked. Your ass handed to you. It’s safe to assume that when you find yourself in this situation, you’re not going to be able to get right back up and get back into the fight. It would be nice if that were the case, but let's be honest it rarely works that way.
Often times, when we rush to get back up right after being knocked down, we have a tendency of getting into worse situations because we didn’t take the time to regroup and evaluate what was going on in the first place. We didn’t take the time to learn from the experience.
Let's be honest… It’s very difficult when you’re in the midst of something very emotional to slow down and analyse what happened. But if you fail to take the necessary time, you’re going to make things worse. Instead, consider this as an opportunity to focus on yourself and what you’re going to do in order to plan and improve as you move forward.
Look at your situation, objectively. Stay rational. Take it slow. Regroup and withdraw from the fight temporarily, not permanently, tand figure out what the hell just happened to you.
Now, once you’ve taken the time to observe what is going on around you, it’s time to start making a plan.
It’s time to evaluate:
- what your resources are
- what your weaknesses are
- what assets you have
- what liabilities you have
- what you need to do next?
- What is this experience teaching me?
- In what areas of my life do I need to improve?
- What skills sets do I need to develop?
- What resources do I have that can help?
- What resources do I need on my next mission?
- What is it that I want to accomplish moving forward?
Remember that you're only OBSERVING
… not prioritizing.
So, now you’ve observed what is happening.
You know the following:
- you’re in a difficult situation
- what is going on around you
- you’ve begun to identify your strengths and weaknesses
- what resources you have
- what you want to accomplish (your end goal)
It’s now the time to start prioritizing and making decisions. Now you need to answer the question, “What is my P.O.A. (plan of action)?”
When I’m prioritizing all that needs to be done to improve myself and my situation, I ask:
“What is the one thing I can do right now that will yield the biggest result?”
The answer to that question is usually the best course of action to take.
Keep doing that to force yourself to take the best possible step-by-step approach, and before you know it you have walked yourself right out of the gates of hell.
Now this is where a lot of folks get hung up. We’ve all hear the term, “paralysis by analysis.” It’s easy to stall because you don’t want to mess up, right?
Though the truth of the matter is, you might. But what’s the alternative?
The alternative is staying where you currently are, in a state of despair, simply hoping that things will work out. 'Hoping'
is a load of rubbish. 'Hoping'
will keep you firmly locked in place with the fear of failure.
Make a decision!
Do it with the right motives and the right information, and, if it doesn’t happen to play out the way you would have hoped, start the OODA loop over again.
We’ve now observed the problem as objectively as possible. We’ve oriented ourselves to our strengths and weaknesses, and we know what resources we have access to and which resources we need. We’ve decided on a course of action.
Now, it’s time to pull the trigger!
There’s not much more to tell you with regards to this fourth step. You’ve done everything that you needed to in order to get you to a point where you’re acting in a manner that is likely to produce the best result.
As the famous Nike slogan goes: "Just Do It"
One other thing you need to understand when it comes to utilizing this strategy. It’s called OODA loop
for a reason. This process is not a linear one, but a cyclical one. In fact, it never ends.
A lot of folks use this process, find out that it actually works, then they forget to go back to step 1, and soon find themselves in the same dire situation they were before.
Do not fall prey to thinking that you’re done just because you accomplished what it is you set out to accomplish. This is a sure path to mediocrity, complacency, and long-term failure.
Incorporate this process into your life, and not just when things go pear-shaped, but when things are going swimmingly as well. You don’t need to wait until things fall apart in order to improve yourself. In fact, if you can incorporate the OODA loop into all aspects of your life immediately, you’re less likely to have to deal with catastrophic events down the road.
When you find yourself burned, I want you to rise from the ashes. Challenging times are not meant to hurt you or keep you down. They’re meant to empower you and make you stronger for what you are yet to face.
You have the power to become smarter, wiser, better, stronger, tougher, grittier and more resilient than you were before.
Again, life’s challenges aren’t there to cripple us. They’re there to fortify us, to build us, to make us stronger, but we have to have a system in place in order to grow from life's "fertilizer moments"