Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Becoming Unstoppable!

You’ve heard the old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough getting going.” If you’re trying to get a job in the recovering economy, realize a long-held goal or dream, or simply evolve as a human being, there’s no better advice on persevering—or becoming unstoppable, in the parlance of motivational speaker Cynthia Kersey, president of Unstoppable Enterprises, Inc. ( Although people typically think of unstoppable people as superhuman, Kersey has found through two decades of research that they’re just like everyone else. “They experience disappointment, rejection, and even failure,” she notes, “but they have the courage to take action toward their goal despite their circumstances or situation.”

According to Kersey, the unstoppable spirit—the one that propels us forward toward achieving our goals and forcing through barriers such as self-doubt and negativity—doesn’t need to be inborn. Luckily, this spirit can be cultivated. In fact, she’s identified seven characteristics of unstoppable people that she says anyone who has the will can find the way to develop. “The one common link among all unstoppable people is adversity—they struggled, tripped and stumbled, and had setbacks and failures, but they pulled themselves up and kept on going,” she writes in her book Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You (Sourcebooks). “The dream demanded their all and they gave it. With each trial, they emerged stronger, surer and more deserving of the dream itself.”

Here, then, Cynthia Kersey’s keys to becoming unstoppable.
• Devote yourself to your true purpose. Some know their purpose intuitively, while for others it takes some exploration. To discover your purpose in life, which relates to how you can be of service to others, think about how you want to be remembered after you die by your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and even the world. Write out the qualities, deeds, and characteristics that you want to live on as your legacy. This exercise will help you home in on your true values, says Kersey, and how you want to spend your time.
• Follow your heart’s passion. Your purpose will lead you to seek out activities you love—to really experience the pleasure that life has to offer rather than just enduring your time on earth. Kersey, for instance, discovered that her purpose in life was to inspire others. She could have chosen to pursue all sorts of activities that allowed her to realize that purpose—from joining the Peace Corps to becoming a nun, a hospital volunteer, a hot-line counselor, or a teacher. After she assessed her natural strengths, likes, and dislikes, however, she decided the best route to achieving her purpose was to become an author and motivational speaker, a choice she was passionate about and that energized her to the core.
• Believe in yourself and your ideas. “Belief is a prerequisite to becoming unstoppable,” reports Kersey. This requires being able to keep going even when others say it can’t be done, or that you’re being irresponsible or unrealistic. “There are always going to be people who try to protect us from our unrealistic fantasies,” she says. “They’re not trying to be cruel. They just don’t see that possibility for themselves, so they can’t see it for you. But the only opinion about your dream that really counts is yours.”
• Prepare for challenges. Most people don’t have a plan of action for their lives, and end up pursuing things that aren’t in line with their purpose and passion—for instance, a boring but steady job they took just because it was all they thought was available to them. Instead, Kersey advises envisioning what you hope to achieve, determining the skills you’ll need to achieve that goal, and then creating a plan of action to achieve it. “From the greatest achievements to the most personal accomplishments, preparation is essential to success,” she says. As a side benefit, preparation also helps to neutralize fear, which can inhibit you from following your passion and purpose.
• Ask for help and build a support team. “Behind every great achiever is another achiever,” says Kersey, so look for people who can serve as role models, mentors, coaches and cheerleaders. Network for team members at your company, professional associations, nonprofit organizations, clubs, in your neighborhood, and among your family and friends. Hire other team members as necessary. For Sharon, who used Kersey’s unstoppable techniques to lose 40 lbs. and realize her life-long goal of getting to a manageable weight, her team consisted of a personal trainer and professional weight consultant. “The personal trainer helped keep me accountable,” she recalls. “If I didn’t show up for a session, she would call me up and ask why I didn’t make it into the gym that day.”
• Seek creative solutions to problems you encounter. Focus on creating a series of “unstoppable moments,” which taken together will lead to an unstoppable life, according to Kersey. For instance, if you want to lose weight like Sharon, such a moment might be choosing to eat a grapefruit instead of a Twinkie, or figuring out how to fit exercise into every day—perhaps by watching one less television show. Be flexible and take a step-by-step approach to problem-solving. “You start with a small step toward your goal everyday,” says Sharon, “and then you go beyond that”—putting yourself on the path to achievement.
• Persevere, no matter what the challenges. Continuing on with your goal no matter what the roadblocks you encounter is the true key to being unstoppable. Cultivate a long-term mentality toward your goal, accept failures as learning experiences and ultimately, you’ll find that “perseverance rewards,” says Kersey. There can be no better example of this concept than Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who kept writing the first book in the series (long-hand, since she couldn’t afford a typewriter or computer) even though everyone told her that getting a children’s book published was a pipe dream. As a single mother who was grief-stricken over the recent death of her mother and the break-up of her marriage, she could barely make ends meet, but she still spent every spare moment on the project. When the manuscript was finally done, it took her six years and 12 rejections to find a publisher. Today, of course, her stories have captured the imagination of the world and she is the wealthiest and perhaps the most successful author of all time—all because she didn’t let a lack of money, divorce, or the doubts of others get in the way of pursuing her dream. “If you don’t give up, you simply cannot fail,” notes Kersey. In short, you become unstoppable!

Photo copyright of Dreamstime


Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

I can never be reminded too often to envision what I would like in my life and for my life to be. Thanks for an inspiring reminder!

Ken Zeserson.... said...

I think the key to being a persevering person is really rather simple. You are going to fail a lot before you succeed (that is IF you ever succeed.) Those inevitable failures shouldn't be considered negatively. On the contrary they are your stepping stones to success. The only way you can learn to win is to lose. We should use every fall as an opportunity to bounce. Every disappointment sets the stage for the next bout with joy. If you do that while simultaneously treating every day as step in the right direction even it seems sideways or backwards, it actually becomes harder to fail and when (or rather if) you do succeed you'll be better equipped to recognize success and to deal with it in a healthy and self-supporting fashion.

MyKidsEatSquid said...

Much of her advice reminds me of the words of Randy Pausch. I still have his quote hung near my laptop--brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something.

Very interesting post.

Anonymous said...

It's good to know that no one is really a superhero and that successful people do face failures like the rest of us, but keep going.

Frugal Kiwi said...

As someone who is pursuing a new career as an artisan post-stroke, this is an inspirational post. It isn't any easy path to follow, even in better economic times, but I have to find paying work that will fit in with my new situation and needs and I love what I do.

I think about my work all the time, read about new techniques constantly and work night and day gladly. None of those were true of my work when I was in health care.

Jennifer Margulis said...

This post is so inspiring. I want to be unstoppable too! I really appreciate all this advice!

Alexandra Grabbe said...

This is inspirational. I can't help but think a little luck is involved though ...

ruth pennebaker said...

Nancy -- I love this post. As our kids got older, it occurred to me the most important thing we had to teach them was how to deal with failure, how to learn from it, how to go on. I can't think of anything that defines a life more than this quality.

Sheryl said...

Thanks for an inspiring post, Nancy. I think belief in yourself is so crucial to put you on a path where you persist, over and over again, despite obstacles. And too, to really believe in - and love - what you're after and to take lessons from all your failures.

Linda said...

Adversity really does make us stronger, and failure is as important to our growth as success (although success is a lot more fun!). I do think it’s the unrealistic dreamers among us who are better able to push through disappointments and failures, because we can picture ourselves rising up from our own ashes. The flip side of that argument, which is clearly discussed here, is backing up your optimism with a viable plan and real action...Then you have to close your eyes and wish real hard, and if that doesn't work, then you wish again!

sarah henry said...

unstoppable how that sounds, so "can do," even in the face of challenges, which we all face, as you point out.

going to add this one to my lexicon.

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Stephanie - said...

I've spent a lot of time working on myself so that I can believe in my passion and use that to push myself into the future. I tend to be paralyzed by possibility, but I'm learning to breathe through it and enjoy the thrilling ride of being alive, no matter how scary and overwhelming it can be.

Chef Luna said...

Thank you for such an inspiring post. You broke it down in such a way that even one who like me, can get tripped up the mental stuff from my upbringing.

I love how you said people try to protect us from they view as unrealistic because they cannot view it for themselves. Its a great reminder that love and encouragment don't always go hand in hand.

Thank you so much and have a blessed day!

Susan Johnston said...

Great tips! I'll have to refer back to this post when I'm facing a particularly tough challenge.

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