How to Turn Negative Experiences Around and Thrive

20160922172443-gettyimages-119704459Image credit: Tetra Images-Erik Isakson | Getty Images

This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, Winning Plays, out now.

When we experience failure, tragedy, or hardship, I believe we all struggle with envisioning the absolute worst outcome. When I got injured in my very first game in the NFL, I was completely broken and defeated in that moment, but I made it even worse because I chose to feel sorry for myself and refused to take the initiative to improve anything.

In times of despair it’s imperative that we constantly remember to see ourselves beyond our current circumstances. Just like clouds in the sky can temporarily block the sun, the clouds in your life should only be passing through.

I struggled desperately to see my life beyond the football field. I wallowed in disappointment and self-pity over things I could not change at the time. It was my own doing. And it was eye-opening and life-changing when I finally realized this.

I’m sure you must feel this way at times. Do you feel that you struggle with the negative experiences in your life? Can you see yourself beyond them? Do you just want to give up and have part of you die like I did? Or wallow in self-pity? Do you feel ashamed? Angry?

The negative experience could be anything — small or big. Maybe you were fired from your job. Maybe you failed at achieving an important goal. Maybe you’re battling depression over losing a loved one. Maybe you were rejected by a company or a friend. Maybe something has happened in your personal life that’s been difficult for you to come to grips with. Whatever it is, take it from me: there is hope beyond your current state of mind. You just have to think beyond yourself.

If there is one thing that completely derails aspiring business owners, athletes or anyone for that matter, it is the inability to turn failure into a gift and thrive despite negative experiences. It takes a lot of work and practice, and I don’t think that it ever becomes an easy thing to do, but once you learn how to stop overanalyzing and beating yourself up over something that didn’t go as planned, the better off you will be. It’s important to put yourself in a position to grow from that negative experience instead of surrendering to it and remaining stagnant.

Here are two ways to help you come alive again after getting knocked down and turn negative experiences into positive ones.

1. Create your own opportunities.

Create your own opportunities instead of waiting for someone to hand them to you. If something happens where you feel broken, but you know there’s a dream out there waiting for you, then know this: you can create your own opportunities. It’s up to you. If you’re passionate about a goal or anything you want to do, create and design the opportunity in the best way you can.

For example, if you’re interested in a new career but aren’t sure what the culture looks like from a workplace environment, offer to work as a free intern so you can get some hands-on experience. The people who wait for the door of opportunity to swing wide open so they can waltz through will likely be waiting a lifetime. Sometimes you have to walk right up to that locked door and break it down.

2. Power through like a champion.

Champions experience rough times like everyone else. But you know what? They simply power through them. I hadn’t learned how to be a champion yet when I felt broken and desolate about losing my dream as a professional athlete. Since then I’ve learned that champions develop alternate winning plays that will put them on top. Absolutely nothing stops them.

They grow stronger through the challenges. If life is easy for you, then you’re not going to grow. It’s the difficulties that present the opportunities for growth. One of the biggest mistakes most people make when confronted with failure or a negative experience is they don’t look for the “positive” in the negative. There’s value in every experience no matter if it’s a positive or a negative one, and it’s up to you to analyze the situation and create an opportunity to turn that negativity into a gift.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Things You Can Do to Stay Positive In Trying Times

20150805174656-delicate-balanceImage credit: Shutterstock

Everyone will agree that the current presidential campaign is turning out to be one of colossal angst, controversy and mudslinging. Friends, families and businesses are fighting with one another over which candidate is best.

The thing is, if we keep our minds on the controversies, disharmonies, and fighting, we stand a very good chance at losing hold in our businesses and in life. And we can’t let that happen.

What we can do is be of service to others. As Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Take a look at yourself. You can strive to make a difference in your customers’ lives, in your friends’ and families’ lives and in your own business and world. A good way to counteract all the disharmony that’s taking place in our country and the world right now is to focus on the service we provide to others. Whether it’s through our business or through our relationships, we can give more, listen more, and understand more. We can glean much understanding of others by giving of our time to those in need. It was Mother Teresa who said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

This may sound so cliché and simple, but it’s a truth. So, in this time of political angst, here are some things you can do to stay more balanced in your business and life.

1. Teach humanitarian service and love.

Volunteers of all ages build houses for the homeless. They traipse to other countries to build homes and provide aid to those in need. Not only that, but they collect shoes for the homeless, they pick vegetables and fruit on farmers’ fields for the homeless. They donate leftover food to the homeless from restaurants and social events. They ring kettle bells for those less fortunate. They read stories to children and play games and do arts and crafts with the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. There are a million kind acts that people do for others. When you offer yourself to be of service to others in some small way, the love will come back to you a thousand-fold, and this will benefit your business and life.

2. Giving and mentoring: A gift that lasts a lifetime.

I know a friend who tutors and mentors at-risk youth to help prepare them for exams. His students come from all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. He has told stories about how he helped gang members get out of their gangs and focus on their studies so they could earn good grades and attend college.

Other people I know serve as volunteer lifestyle coaches in halfway houses to help people who have been to drug and alcohol rehab. Those recovering people need ongoing help and support, and the volunteers serve as a guide to those in need. Many times these lifestyle coaches will save lives because of their gifts of service. This kind of “gift” and service is everlasting.

You can even give your time to your nieces and nephews. This is more valuable than any gift you could ever purchase for them.

Giving of yourself to others in any way will help you learn more about people and in turn, this will help you achieve more in your business.

3. Join a group like Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a wonderful organization that allows you to be of service to others by volunteering your time to guide and mentor a child so he or she can fulfill their life’s potential. It gives you the opportunity to help shape that child’s future by playing sports together, reading books together, or simply going out for pizza. Some children need a big brother or big sister because they have no one else.

4. Teach by example and be a role model.

One of the best ways to serve others is to teach by example and to be the best role model you can be. Again, this sounds so simple, but it’s not. The way you carry yourself, your actions, your conversations, your thoughts, your demeanor — all write the story of who you are. People respond to that. If you’re negative or angry all the time, that’s how people will perceive you. And there will be some who will copy you because they think if you can get away with it, so can they.

You can start slowly. Maybe even just block out one or two hours a week to give some time of service to an organization or someone. You can come up with your own creative way of volunteering. It can be at a church, a hospital, a school, a nursing home, a pet shelter or your local gym.

It’s very important to display your best at all times. Be your best. Teach your best. There’s always someone out there who needs guidance or mentoring. When you are kind to others and offer your service, it acts like a boomerang. The kindness will bounce back to you.

Stephen Covey said, “Seek to understand before being understood.” In these times of political turmoil, it’s important to stay balanced in your business and life more than ever before. We desperately need more understanding. Stop and look inward through meditation, silence, and prayer to better understand your own self.

To stay balanced and productive in your business and life, which includes a sense of empowerment and unity as a country and people, it starts with you and with love in the home and service outside.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Positive Attitude Amid Failure

20150803182047-cute-breakfast-smile-happinessImage credit: Shutterstock

This article is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s new book WINNING PLAYS published by Center Street/Hachette.

Many, many people talk about attitude and especially the “attitude of gratitude.” It has become such a normal topic of discussion that few people probably really think about it. I’m not sure how many people actually work on their attitude daily. But trust me, it can make all the difference when it comes to reprogramming your life so you can reap the rewards and gifts of failure. It’s important to have an attitude of gratitude and be grateful for everything in your life. Even — perhaps, especially — the failures.

How can some people defeat the odds and achieve success? How can some turn major failures into incredible gifts that not only bless themselves but the entire world? Simple. It’s the attitude they choose.

Selecting the right attitude.

When our attitude is right, we can achieve maximum results. The right attitude can help us soar to greater heights than ever before and create extraordinary lives and businesses. Likewise, the right attitude can bring out the best in others. That’s why I mentioned that we need to interact with people who have positive attitudes because they will help us achieve our best.

You’re probably saying, “This sounds great and all, but how am I ever supposed to have such a positive attitude when everything seems to be going wrong in my life?” I get it. I really do. It’s still something I battle with in my own life. Here are three simple ways to help you keep a positive attitude regardless of negative situations or events that present themselves throughout your journey.

1. Make a conscious effort.

Make a deliberate effort to work on your attitude. I always heard about the importance of a great attitude and every football coach I ever had brought it up, but I never really saw the value of it until I hit rock bottom. I struggled so much to keep a positive and encouraging attitude amidst the failure and hard times, but that all changed when I finally made a conscious effort to improve my attitude despite what was going on in my life. Nothing will change if you don’t change. Don’t let circumstances or misfortunes dictate your attitude. Decide today to build up your attitude and attract the right kind of people into your life from here on out.

2. Create an affirmation card.

Writing an attitude affirmation card can be a total game changer for you when you’re rewiring and reprogramming your thinking. You can create an attitude shift for the better. I have always reaped tremendous benefits of “speaking things into existence” by repeating affirmations over and over, and the same goes for when I needed a change in my own attitude.

When I wanted a Division I college scholarship, I wrote and recited every day, “I will receive a Division I scholarship,” and I eventually started to believe it. Simply take out an index card and describe the exact type of attitude you want to possess. You can write something like, “I (your name) am an honest, loving, and hardworking individual. I have a positive attitude, and I build up others and let my words radiate encouragement and success. No matter what happens in life, my attitude will never be sour and negative.” This is just an example to help get you started, but you get the idea. We need to rewire and reprogram our thinking and declare the exact type of attitude we want. If we don’t, it will be extremely hard to change our attitude when we experience a failure or a setback.

3. See goodness.

Most poor attitudes stem from your perception of something, so start to look for the good in everyone and everything you come in contact with. If you look for the positive, your attitude will reflect that. An amazing transformation takes place when you see the good in everyone and everything, even failure.

Don’t let a poor attitude be the reason why you stay in a mediocre state forever and why you never fulfill your potential.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Open and Nurture Your Imagination

20151105182332-picasso-art-artist-pabloImage credit: Panom | Shutterstock.com

Your imagination is the key to creating your dreams and building your future. When you are creatively blocked, you are going to have a more difficult time being your best self at work or at anything you attempt to achieve. Too often, those of us who are ambitious and production-driven, will ignore creative pursuits because we think we don’t have time for them. You might be saying, “But I’m not a creative person. I’m a business person, so what does creativity and imagination have to do with anything?”

The answer is, “everything.”

Here are five ways to open your imagination, which will in turn, ignite that spark of creativity within you so you can create more with your business, as well as enhance your life.

1. Reading.

I’ve mentioned before that when I get up in the morning, I read something for at least 30 minutes. The reading offers fuel for my imagination and inspires me to think of new business ideas and marketing strategies. Even if you just pick up something and read for 10 or 15 minutes, you are “waking up” your brain and stimulating the thought process. Make this a daily habit. You can also do this in the evening before you go to sleep. Reading can transform not only how you see yourself, but also how you see the world.

2. Writing. 

I am a big proponent of journaling. I carry a Moleskin leather journal with me everywhere I go and I jot down thoughts, ideas and feelings into this journal. I love to go to cafés or bookstores and just sit and journal. I cannot begin to tell you how this creative exercise opens up my imagination to new ideas for work, solution to current roadblocks and life, in general. Many people like to journal first thing in the morning — either in their own handwriting like I do in my Moleskin journal, or on their smart phone, or tablet. The idea is to spend quiet moments with yourself and write out your thoughts. If you do it in the morning, it will clear the air, give you an opportunity to write out your frustrations and start the day fresh. Words are powerful, after all, and this action can influence important change in your life.

3. Movies. 

This might sound like a self-indulgent activity, but it can be more than that. Seeing a movie can be productive, inspiring, motivating and creative. When you go to see a movie — and I enjoy seeing them by myself — it opens up your mind and imagination to possibilities. The sounds, colors, action, stories and characters, are all potential motivators to remind you of something you can do to enhance your business and life. So, while seeing movies is entertainment, it is also a great way to open your creativity and imagination.

4. Art.

We are not all Picassos, but if we enjoy art in any form, then don’t neglect it. I have friends who are traditional artists, but tell me they never have time to paint anymore. That doesn’t sound logical to me. If art restores your soul, if art nurtures your imagination and creativity, then why aren’t you doing it? You can surely find 10 to 15 minutes a day to devote to something you love. When painting a picture or any other type of artistic craft that you enjoy, you are tuning into your inner self and tapping into a creative well that will nurture and inspire you. That will help to inspire you further in your work. Maybe your “art” is decorating a room in your apartment or house. Then, do it. Maybe your “art” is body-building or gymnastics. Maybe it’s dance. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s gardening. There’s a true art form to activities that people don’t often recognize. “Art” is more than just painting a picture. It is anything that’s creative. Strengthening your creative muscles will help you tune into your inner wisdom and will open your imagination to all kinds of possibilities.

5. Daydreaming. 

Finally, I want to emphasize that daydreaming can be an important tool to opening your imagination and creativity. Sure, I imagine we all remember when we were in elementary school and teachers told us to stop daydreaming and get to work. When you daydream, you take yourself out of the ordinary moment and open yourself to possibilities. Naturally, you don’t want to live your whole day in a daydream world, but taking moments to relax and “daydream” are small exercises that can open your imagination to new ideas and dreams. And those new ideas and dreams can help you thrive in business and in life. And isn’t that what we all want? So, start daydreaming today and enjoy those little moments of creativity. Everything starts with a dream, even a “daydream.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com