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I'm a 54 year old Husband, Father of Four Daughters, Pastor and Vice Principal of a private K-12 school on Long Island.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Starting Over

Between the gas and mortgage crisis many people today are having to start over. "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall." ~ Confucius

Rarely does a person coast through life without having to start over after a major setback. Consider the following situations in which people must start anew. Factory workers in America have had no choice but to start over as their manufacturing jobs have been outsourced internationally. Hurricane Katrina victims have been forced to start over after their homes, businesses, and schools were destroyed by the storm. Thousands of households have been forced to start over after losing their homes in the mortgage crisis.

In the Winter 2008 edition of Leader to Leader Journal, Robert L. Dilenschneider writes a revealing article about being forced to start over professionally. After losing a position of far-reaching influence, Dilenschneider journeyed through a season of joblessness before regaining his footing. His experience yields healthy insights for leaders going through the painful trial of getting back up after being knocked down.

Let Go of Humiliation
The difficulty of starting over professionally (polishing the resume, learning new job skills, etc.) pales in comparison to the personal humiliation of hitting rock bottom. Dilenschneider warns against two unhealthy responses to the hurt that accompanies a serious setback: (1) self-pity and (2) desire for revenge.

Self-pity focuses pain inwardly. By succumbing to self-pity, people heap blame upon themselves in both real and imagined ways. They interpret negative circumstances as evidence of their worthlessness. At worst, such behavior may cause the person to spiral into depression. At the very least, it takes a toll on their self-esteem and undercuts their confidence.

The desire for revenge focuses pain externally. When finger-pointing or assigning blame, you're more likely to amplify your hurt than to heal it. Don't play the victim. As long as you cede responsibility for your setback to someone else, then you've surrendered your joy and wellness to their control.

Hold tightly to hope
Don't let yourself become accustomed to the darkness. As surely as the sun will set tonight, it will rise again tomorrow. Life has a rhythm. Sometimes failure presses down on us, but just as often we triumph against the odds. As you start over, concentrate on your talents and replay successes in your mind. Surround yourself with encouragement and the support of family and loved ones.

As Dilenschneider recommends, learn from the ordeal of starting over. Find purpose in failure, and mine it for invaluable insights. View adversity as a test of your strength rather than proof of your weakness. Remember: people with hope are elastic rather than fragile. When they fall, they don't break; they rebound.

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