LUKSHAITIS: Resilience: A lesson for success


By Matthew Lukshaitis

Pine River Area Schools Superintendent

At a certain point, all of us fail. When we fail at something there are two mindsets which seem to stand out — the mindset of the resilient and the mindset of the defeated. The resilient mindset says, “I will achieve success because I will learn from this opportunity.” The defeated mindset says, “This was too hard for me. Clearly, someone else is forcing me to fail and is therefore at fault.”

The resilient seek success; the defeated seek blame.

To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, we miss 100 percent of the shots we don’t take. While the "Great One" was referring to scoring goals in hockey, he may as well have been talking about life. Personal success comes from attempting, from scrambling, from grappling with problems and from finding solutions that fit. It’s a process, victory and success. Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result just doesn’t work. There’s another paraphrase for you, this time from Albert Einstein.

The resilient mindset sees opportunity at every corner and in every instance. This mindset sees the beach and the sunshine; the defeated mindset sees the ingredients for storm clouds and rain. How do you want to live your life? What do you want your legacy to be? Who is looking to you to set an example? How do they perceive you? Do you quit when you fail at something or do you find a new way? Are you full of hope and energy at work and at home? Have you been with that friend who makes fun of everyone and everything? It is far easier to laugh at people and circumstances than to try to understand them. One note here: our kids watch us and model themselves after us.

Character is revealed when we meet failure. Rising up to challenge ourselves and demonstrate our faith, our beliefs, and our moral courage is risky and threatening when we are afraid of failure (accompanied and magnified by cruel laughter, threats and mocking commentary). Of course it is far easier to fail and retreat than to move forward and struggle.

Most success stories include quotes later from the successful which start something like this, “It was hard work, but …” The rest of the story usually goes like this, “But I was resilient. I didn’t let failure stop me. Or 50 failures stop me. Or one million failures stop me.”

For the resilient mindset, failure is temporary. Not to be forgotten, but used to find the right key to open the next locked door. For the defeated mindset, failure is permanent. Not to be forgotten, but used to purchase more locks to make sure the next door stays locked forever.

Talk to your kids about overcoming obstacles in life. Help equip them with the tools they need to achieve. Start with the heart and build their minds. Together we can achieve greatness; alone we suffer needlessly in silence.