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How One Can Hit Rock Bottom and Climb Back to the Top

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On December 8, 1941 Franklin Roosevelt, one of the most revered wartime presidents bellowed that “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” At a time when most of America felt as though we had hit rock bottom, Roosevelt was confident enough to see a way through it.

Roosevelt was no stranger to adversity. Only 20 years before this speech, Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio. As a result, he was paralyzed from the waist down, but it offered him his most important challenge that prepared him for the Great Depression and winning the Second World War.

My rock bottom moment came from a prison cell in the Texas State Penitentiary. From this, I learned a similar lesson that Roosevelt grappled with while fighting polio: Daily, disciplined action is the only way to overcome obstacles.

Rock Bottom is a Good Thing 

It wasn’t easy to consider my prison sentence a good thing. After months of emotional turmoil and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I could only get more successful. There was only one way to go from rock bottom: upwards.

After the mindset shift comes the requisite actions. No matter what the situation, what is the one thing you can do right now to overcome this obstacle? Don’t worry about how it all fits into the bigger picture. If you’re at rock bottom the big picture is intimidatingly large. Consider one simple thing you can do.

Start with reading. In prison that is one of the first actions one can take to improve the situation. Malcolm X did it, Nelson Mandela did it, and I did it. Books provide knowledge, the wisdom of others, and varied perspectives that build skills for the future. It wasn’t hard work, but it was a single step in the right direction.

After reading books I started to brainstorm ideas and keep a journal. Then I started to exercise and even created a fasting practice. The purpose of starting with one thing is to build momentum. Then you can add another and another and even more difficult disciplines to your daily routine as well.

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George S. Patton

Engage Everything 

There is not much one controls from inside prison. Guards would force us to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to eat breakfast and much of the day was forced upon us. No matter how much power was taken from me, there were still things that I could control. Every option I did have was met with my full engagement.

No part of our day should be done mindlessly and certainly not when we have reached rock bottom. We should question why we do everything each day and see whether it aligns with our goals.

We engage everything because it helps us to build daily disciplines throughout all facets of our lives. From making my tiny prison bed in the morning to bodyweight exercises in the prison yard, everything was part of a bigger plan.

This doesn’t mean we can’t rest or enjoy ourselves. Even taking a moment to watch a show on Netflix might be useful. The point is to consciously acknowledge why we do so rather than blindly follow habit.

One Step At a Time 

The road to the top from your lowest point can seem insurmountable, but it isn’t. When Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio he never questioned how he was going to reach the presidency and become one of the most revered men in United States history. Instead, he focused on the small tasks he could take to overcome his illness.

As we gain momentum from the small tasks, we can incorporate more of them in our lives and tip the balance in favor of what we desire to achieve.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

What was your rock bottom moment and what did you do to get out of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Mansal Denton is the co-founder of Nootropedia, which is an unbiased and accessible platform to learn about nootropics and smart drugs. When he isn’t improving cognitive function in others, he enjoys a host of active hobbies. He likes jiu-jitsu when his body allows, meditation, and a healthy dose of travel.

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1 Comment

  1. Earl Vance R. dela Cruz

    Sep 28, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Thank you for this article

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Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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