When an individual goes through a tough life, it can shape them out to be a high achiever. In fact, many high achievers come from troubled families.
High achievers come from troubled families. Maybe not all of them. But many of them do. And you happen to know many of them.
"I grew up without a father and had to learn very early on to figure out what was important and what wasn’t, exercise my own judgment and in some ways to raise myself.
I didn’t have a lot of role models and made a lot of mistakes. But I learned to figure out that there are certain values that were important to me that I had to be true to.
Nobody was going to force me to be honest. Nobody was going to force me to work hard, or to have drive and ambition, or have empathy for other people."
The man who said this sounds like he had a tough childhood, a tough life. He sounds like a quarter of Americans living in a single-parent household.
Divorce rates rose 2.9% in Singapore in 2016 and this number continues to grow across Asia.
Many kids are growing up in single-parent households, echoing the sentiments of the man who said those things. But that man is former US President Barack Obama.
During his term as president, he was regarded as one of the most powerful men on Earth. His influence continues to spread across the world today.
Guess what? Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz also grew up in a tough neighbourhood. Oprah Winfrey was abused as a girl. Charlize Theron's mother shot her alcoholic and abusive father to death.
These now-famous people, regarded as highly successful individuals globally, came from pretty messed up backgrounds.
According to clinical psychologist Meg Jay, childhood trauma and exceptional achievement go hand in hand.
In fact, in a study of 400 super high achievers, it was found that a remarkable 75 percent of these individuals had faced severe difficulties, such as the loss of a parent, dire poverty, or abuse in childhood.
Sure, this theory isn't applicable to every single traumatised child out there. But the point she was trying to make is that these early struggles could teach extreme resilience that leads to incredible achievement.
That doesn't mean you should go off and put your children through traumatic events since high achievers come from troubled families.
She says to take on long-form projects that feel like challenges rather than threats. Just because something may not be emotional or unexpected in the moment, doesn't mean it can't help us practice for moments that are.
"Resist defeat in your own mind," she advises. "Fighting back on the inside is where battling back on the outside begins."
The most important ingredient for resilience is social connections, so "reach out to family, friends or professionals who care," opines Jay. "It is a myth that resilient people don't need help. Seeking support is what resilient people do."
"Most serious adversities are neither quickly nor easily solved, but taking control where we can is empowering. Make a realistic plan to improve your situation, and work toward it day by day. Progress shores us up and calms us down," are her sage words.
Finally, Jay says, "Remember the ways you have been courageous and strong. Too often we remember what has gone wrong in life rather than what we did to survive and thrive. Think back on a time when you were challenged and give yourself credit for how you made it through. You may already be more resilient than you think."
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