Setbacks Can Make Us Stronger

July 20, 2017
Propel Institute

Would you like to know the secret to being successful? So did Doug Newburg, a professor at the University of Virginia who studied hundreds of the world’s top performers to determine what made them the best surgeons, business leaders, athletes, artists, etc. Newburg distilled the results of his research down to one factor that distinguished highly successful people.

At the heart of their success was passion – the drive and determination to achieve their dream. Passion provided the motivation to excel even when it became extraordinarily difficult to persevere.

These world class performers described the importance of having big goals, engaging in extensive planning and preparation, and achieving mastery through massive amounts of practice. But that’s not what propelled them from good to great.

Rather than ruminating on all of the reasons why they couldn’t succeed, top performers had stopped making excuses, abandoned their victim stories, and gave up blaming others for setbacks. Instead they focused feeling what it was like to be at their best – the times when their strengths were equally matched to the challenge they were facing.

Extraordinarily successful individuals have a drive that’s based on attaining the deeply satisfying feeling of being in “flow.” Every day high achievers take time to become clear about the outcome they want to attain and the actions they will take to give themselves phenomenal feelings every step along the way.

By observing how peak performers generate the fantastic feeling of being in flow, Dr. Newburg developed a method which enables people to consistently create “resonance”. He defines this state as “a seamless fit between how people want to feel and the environment in which they’re situated.” Known as the Resonance Performance Model (RPM), he found that are 5 steps that fuel the upward spiral of success.

1. Have a dream which you’re passionate about achieving. This crucial first step maintains motivation, increases self-control, and sustains the positive energy necessary to surpass setbacks.

2. Develop a plan for generating intensely positive emotions every day. Identify how you want to feel, find a coach or mentor who can guide you, pursue additional training, cultivate a cadre of supporters, use the strengths that enable you to perform at your best, and establish a practice schedule.

3. Identify the obstacles that prevent you from feeling positive, passionate, and persistent. These blocks may be internal (e.g., fear, distractibility, distorted thinking) or external (e.g., critics, pessimists, resources).

4. Overcome any obstacles by realigning your attention to your inner dreams and desires and re energize yourself by re-examining how to apply your strengths.

5. Refocus on how you want to feel at the end of your day.

To define your dream, identify the deepest values that initially compelled you into your career. What hopes did you have about making your life meaningful? What current situations, people, and conditions enhance your energy, improve your concentration, and boost your self-confidence? What experiences produce the opposite effect? What daily activities would you need to perform consistently to be at your best?

To overcome their fear of failure, Gabrielle Oettingen’s research reveals high performers:

  • Remain totally engaged by recalling why their goal is meaningful
  • Picture themselves taking action throughout the day
  • See themselves having accomplished the outcome they wish to achieve
  • Motivate themselves by imagining how it will feel when they’ve made progress
  • Identify the obstacles within themselves that might hold them back
  • Predetermine a plan for what they’ll do if they hit that stumbling block

By creating a mindset in which they have a meaningful goal and a clear sense of how they want to feel, top performers become intensely involved in the moment. They merge their positive emotions with their actions in order to focus their attention on what they need to do to achieve results. They block out distractions and ride the seamless flow of energy that comes from completely concentrating on the task at hand.

Fears, worries and doubts are eliminated in this state because those are thoughts involving the past or future. Peak performance involves total immersion in the present moment, using your strengths to be at your best, and maintaining confidence that perseverance will allow you to prevail.

Peak experiences are so compelling to top performers that they make it the centerpiece of their daily existence. Their willingness to make the extra effort to succeed comes from their deep desire to re-experience this feeling of being in harmony with themselves and their world. Rather than succumbing to pressure, high achievers ride a wave of positive emotions.

Talk to Dr. Tom Muha:

Get information about PROPEL Institute and Dr. Tom Muha

  • If prompted, follow instructions on next screen.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.