As a former plus-size model, I know the disappointment of rejection based solely on appearance, both professionally and personally. Rather than allowing the numerous barrier-inducing critics of my plus size define who I was, how I'd live my life, and what measure of success and happiness I could achieve, I instead chose to face that “winter season” head on, turning what others had deemed as challenges into the very assets that would help me realize tremendous success in all aspects of my life.
Not only did I embrace my appearance and excel as a plus-sized model, I helped others do the same by founding a plus-size modeling agency representing more than 100 models who were placed with premier fashion retailers such as Nordstrom, Lane Bryant, Just My Size, Dillard’s and Liz Claiborne. Through plus-size beauty pageants and conventions that I founded, I created an opportunity for hundreds of women to achieve dreams like those I, myself, had accomplished. As an international speaker, I’ve also had the honor of sharing platforms with A-listers like Oprah, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Life is best described metaphorically as continuously transitioning through each of the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Truly successful people choose to embrace, overcome and thrive as they seamlessly flow between seasons, regardless of how long or difficult each one may be. And, successful people don’t just overcome the difficult season of winter, but actually thrive during the harsh cold. Such cyclical expectations and preparations are mindsets that are key to sustained and against the odds success. Here are five tips how to overcome obstacles and excel.
1. Fuel future successes with past achievements. It’s easy to feel like a failure after a particularly harsh setback; even the most empowered of us can, at times, doubt ourselves. However, no matter where you are in your career or life, you’ve undoubtedly done something that has made an impact. Find those times you made a difference in the world and know you can do it again.
2. Regularly invest in “the power of you.” Do you ever get to the end of the day, week, month or even year and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything meaningful? Chances are you’ve accomplished much more than you realize, but without any tangible, physical evidence, it can be difficult to recall those accomplishments. A great way to create a visual bank of your accomplishments is to make deposits in what I call “The Power of You Jar.” Every time you accomplish something, write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Watching that jar fill up is empowering. Then whenever you doubt yourself, reach into the jar and get that reminder of what you’ve already accomplished.
3. Channel your inner prize fighter. You can learn a lot from boxers. They spend three minutes fighting each round and 60 to 90 seconds resting. In between rounds they’re refueling, receiving advice and getting encouragement. They have a whole training team supporting them. Could you imagine how disastrous it would be if their trainer said, “You’re going to lose” or “You should quit”? Any doubt during a fight could lead to a knock out. Yet, we allow negative people in our corners all the time – people who aren’t encouraging and don’t help us. Is it any wonder we’re getting knocked down? When channeling your inner prize fighter, come out of your corner swinging and when you’re resting and rebuilding in between rounds, make sure your supporters are in your corner.
4. Cease self-doubt with an actual “stop” sign. If there’s one piece of self-help advice you’ve heard over and over, it’s probably, “Don’t speak or think negatively.” For many, it can be next to impossible to follow. Even if you’ve attended the most incredible motivational seminar or are pumped up from a motivational book or video, the principles you’ve learned and the changes you want to make often quickly fade in the following weeks or months. An effective way to keep that motivational level up and to make those changes stick is to use visual cues. For instance, if you want to stop thinking negatively, get an actual stop sign – it doesn’t have to be full sized, just big enough to be a reminder. Put it in your office, your bedroom, or wherever it’s visible. Any time you doubt yourself, look at the stop sign, and this will be the reminder to hit the brakes and get back on track.
5. Don’t outsource your success. In an era where outsourcing is very popular, everything from manufacturing jobs to administrative duties are subbed out. One thing you shouldn’t outsource is your success. If you’ve achieved something, surmounted an obstacle or had any sort of triumph, take credit for it. If you find yourself saying, “It was nothing” or “I didn’t really do much,” people will believe it. Allow yourself to be seen as successful, and you'll feel successful, too.
International keynote motivational speaker, executive life coach and author DeLores Pressley is dedicated to helping people take action to launch bold, confident and courageous lives. She’s the CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide and founder of the Global Up Woman Network – a movement to empower and elevate women in business. Reach her online at www.DeLoresPressley.com. Those interested in her Speaker Success Summits specifically may reach her at www.LaunchpadSpeaker.com.