Is this a blip, or is it a catastrophe?

The way we handle difficult situations in life says a lot about who we are. How we view them is also an important element in how we will deal with adversity. Some events will wipe out one person, but will make another person even more tenacious. That’s why I always ask myself, “Is this a blip, or is it a catastrophe?” The question helps me to focus in the midst of bad news.

You’ve heard me talk about passion before--how it’s a necessary ingredient for success. Reason is also necessary, and when we experience setbacks and mistakes, that's the time to employ reason or objectivity. Reason sets us up to learn something from the experience. It’s like the old saying about when one door closes, another door opens. I see that as meaning there’s another chance, another opportunity waiting, but we have to be open to it. I’ve known some people who could be staring at an open door and not even see that it’s open, let alone realize its significance.

I can remember when things turned around for me in a big way, and what I learned is that you have to maintain your focus and your momentum at all times. You’ve heard me mention those two success tips before. I learned about them the hard way: I had lost my focus and suddenly I was faced with some major setbacks, but I kept moving forward while trying to learn from the mistakes. Your problems can be temporary if you keep your momentum moving forward. We all experience difficulties, but they can be blips if we remain positive and move on.

When I decide to do something, I have enough experience to expect problems. Rarely is anything that’s worth doing just a breeze. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll a boulder uphill for eternity. That’s just the way it is sometimes. So I just keep going; I don’t give up. My focus is intense enough to make the effort worth it, and my momentum makes sure that my efforts won’t be futile. I have learned a lot because of demanding situations.

One way to avoid mishandling mistakes is to realize they can happen to us every day. It’s a way of being prepared, without being a pessimist. Problems, setbacks, mistakes, and losses are all a part of life. It’s something we have to accept. We shouldn’t be shocked if and when they happen. Don’t let things knock you off your feet or off your rocker either. Keep your equilibrium by knowing what you’re dealing with. If you are taken by surprise, then by all means, ask yourself what you’ve learned from the experience. Don’t just go out and make the same mistake again and hope for the best. You’ll be getting a lot of the same hard knocks and tough lessons over and over again if you don’t assess your situation each and every time.

Here’s where the going gets tricky. You have to know when to call it quits and when to keep moving forward. There’s always that fine line between acceptance and resignation. Sometimes it’s not so fine, as when you find out someone is a scoundrel and nothing’s going to change them. Then, it’s wise to break off the relationship. Other times, we have to realize that everyone makes mistakes, and try to be a little more accepting of that fact. Just as you don’t want to give up on yourself, you can’t always just give up on other people either. That’s where experience and discernment will come in. But what’s most important is to never give up on yourself. You never know when the tide is going to turn in your favor, provided you have been paying attention and working towards something worthwhile.

There was a time, early in my real estate career, when I was trying to get a deal done, and I thought I’d endured and worked through every obstacle possible. Wrong. It took me two months more of hammering away at the details until I arrived at what was considered a done deal. Had I known what I was going to have to go through from the beginning, I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude to go for it or to stick it out. But I’m glad I did. It was my first big success--the renovation of the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central. Did I learn a lot? You bet I did. Every setback gave me a great lesson, and I was becoming a very educated man in the process.

You have to be the same way, and you can be the same way. Just be tough, be strong, be willing to learn, and you will learn. So don’t be afraid of mistakes or setbacks. They can be your learning tools on the way to building something great for yourself. We all have something to learn today. Remember that and your chances for success will increase dramatically. You’ve heard me say to think big. Learning big is up there too. So let’s get to it!

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