of success, says Smith. It also provides a time to reevaluate yourself. Recognizing your strengths and developing confidence in them is key to parlaying setbacks into new opportunities.
Tim Howard has spent his entire life overcoming personal limitations. Howard, 22, a professional soccer goalkeeper for the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars, has successfully qualified for the U.S. National Soccer Team and participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He also happens to suffer from Tourette’s syndrome.
This neurological disorder–characterized by repeated, involuntary, rapid, sudden movements and/or vocalizations–has presented challenges for Howard both on and off the field. Growing up, he was often made to feel like an outcast in social settings. But he never internalized the rejection. “God made me this way, so I have to deal with it,” maintains Howard. “I’ve met others with the same condition, and they never let it stop them. So I knew I wouldn’t let it stop me.”
On the field, he forces himself to concentrate on playing, not on his body’s reactions. Off the field, it’s not as easy. Still, his condition hasn’t kept him from accomplishing his goals. “Most people who have Tourette’s syndrome tend to be gifted in another area,” says Howard, whose self-esteem and outlook on life haven’t been affected. He’s gearing up to take his athletic gifts to a new plane: He now has his sights set on making it to the World Cup.
Focus on the lessons, not the licks. “It has been said, ‘experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward,’” explains Smith. Don’t spend too much time on wondering “why me?” Instead, look for the lessons in your experience and use them to get to your destination.
“I learned that you have to really plan ahead,” says Brown, who acknowledges that he should have done a better job with scheduling with the contractors. “I did all the research on the construction firm, but I didn’t get in writing when the project would be completed. Next time I will,” says Brown, who will also be sure the new contract includes penalty clauses in the event that the builders take longer than quoted.
When looking ahead after a disappointment, ask yourself, “If I had to do it over again, what would I have done differently?” The answer will require you to be completely honest about your contribution to the setback. Taking a step back from your situation and looking at it objectively–as if you were giving advice to someone else–will help you focus on what went wrong so you can do better next time.
Tackle adversity head-on. “If you have the strength to survive, you have the power to succeed,” says Veraunda I. Jackson, an Orlando, Florida-based motivational speaker and author of Everything Has A Price (EHAP Inc., $16). “Figure out what is causing the struggle and address the source,” she asserts. Realize that you have the power to change the outcome of a situation if you start with positive thoughts,