Bounce back or look back?There’s a Japanese proverb that says:

Fall down seven times.  Get up eight.  


This quote makes me think of being bouncy like Tigger.  The ability to come back, resilience, is one of the necessary skills Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske cite in their book The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success needed to develop a winner’s brain.

They depict a bouncy brain as one that:

…recovers from life’s challenges by dealing with shortcomings, misfires and failures whether they are self generated or brought on by circumstances beyond one’s control.  Winner’s reframe failures so that they work to their advantage and recognize that when things don’t go according to plan, the journey isn’t necessarily over – and, in fact, failure is often a new opportunity in disguise.

One strategy they suggest to aid in developing and strengthening resilience in yourself is to find a “failure role model.” Current culture and history is full of them:

  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard.
  • Thomas Edison tried more than 9,000 experiments before he created the first successful light bulb.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team.
  • Albert Einstein had very poor grades in school and was thought to be mentally retarded.
  • Steven Spielberg was placed in learning-disabled classes in high school then dropped out forever.
  • John Grisham‘s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses.
  • Abraham Lincoln had 12 major political failures before he was elected the 16th President of the United States of America.

These people demonstrate how true it is that the road to success is littered with potholes. Think about your own life.  I bet you can come up with some resilience role models you know personally.

About 9 months after attempting suicide which resulted in a serious brain injury, I went into a yoga class and thought “Hey, I know that guy!”  It was Charlie Engle. We had worked as lifeguards together one summer in college, and he dated my roommate. I remember slinking around the pool one night with our faces partially submerged…just our eyeballs sticking up out of the water like an alligator being “pool iguanas” together in an altered state which, of course, we thought was absolutely hysterical at the time. We began to get reacquainted and fill each other in on what had been going on for the last 25 years or so for each of us.

Turns out, Charlie had continued the party after college to go on to lead a life of drug and alcohol addiction.  But, he got clean and sober in 1992 and went on to run across the Sahara Desert at the age of 44 with two other men!  That’s runnings 4,500 miles in 111 days which is the equivalent of two marathons each day. (Makes me tired just to think about it!) The expedition was covered in a  documentary, Running The Sahara, narrated by Matt Damon. Charlie has also done some other pretty amazing things like run/bicycled across America and has given his support to and headed numerous local, national, and global charitable efforts. Wow!

To me, Charlie was still just Charlie, but his example did get me to thinking, “if  ‘just Charlie’ could turn it around and go on to not only live a ‘normal’  life but to thrive and help others–maybe–just maybe, I can too.”  For the first time, it occurred to me that it might actually be possible to clean up and make something of the huge mess I had made of my life.  Charlie was a tremendous inspiration to me.  He was failure role model in real life!

When you find yourself staring misfortune squarely in the face, you have two choices. You can look back and focus on the regrets and wrong turns that got you there.  OR  You can bounce back by taking a deep breath, focusing on the next right step, and take it.  Then take the next right step.

Here’s to being bouncy!

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  1. charlie engle Reply

    Thanks for including me in your life. It is you who inspires me.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      No, no, no …thank you! 🙂 It gives me so much joy to take my huge mess ups and know they can inspire others. Makes it not seem so bad and that much more worthwhile. Thank you for the example you have set with your life and continue to set every day. It aint anywhere near over yet…still writing the story. Gonna be good for us both!

  2. Debbie,
    I love this, too. It just shines to what is possible, when we live our lives in the moment – and let go of what has been our past.

    What a wonderful story….

    …and you, sweet friend…Debbie, what an amazing soul you are!! So, so good to be here today.

  3. Ande Waggener Reply

    You’re singing my tune, Debbie! 🙂 Love the examples, and I may have to reuse a couple of them. 😉 They remind me of my From Splat To Spectacular audio stories.

    You and Charlie are both amazing. People who have come back from the depths like you have are the real heroes in life.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Oh boy! I didn’t realize who it was because of the dog in the pic. Now I do. Thank you so much! What an honor. It is like being congratulated by one of the members “been there done that” club. I like the idea of being a Splat to Spectacular! Luv it. I am gonna use it. I bestow it upon myself. Where can I find the audio series? Sounds good.

      I do not want to do it again by any means, but I am a much better person for having gone through these challenges. Truly a blessing in disguise. We have to remember and know that any time the going gets tough.

  4. My favorites are:
    Hippocrates from approx. 400 BC ‘It is impossible to cure a severe attack of apoplexy and difficult to cure a mild one’ Back then stroke was called apoplexy.
    Einstein ‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ Does this imply that all stroke survivors that believe in using neuroplasticity are insane for that belief? Or should we just ignore Einstein because we are smarter than him?
    I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
    Thomas A. Edison
    This goes with along with the Einstein quote, althouh I think that I will probably find millions of ways that won’t work before I get neuroplasticity to work for some of my deficits. Impossible may just take a little longer and I must be smarter than Hippocrates also.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Interesting. I love and live by that Einstein quote, but it does kinda go against the persistence and repetition required for neuroplasticity. I guess the change is in the very beginning….to rewire your brain you have to do something different over and over again. Yea! So, it does fit after all. Neuroplasticity teaches us patience and faith also because we have to stay tenacious and committed even when we are not seeing any results..YET.

  5. George Colombo Reply

    You are my role model, Debbie. Your blogs posts/Tweets/etc. shine a bit of light on to every one of my days lately… and I’m sure I’m not the only one. As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep reading. Thanks.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Boy, thanks, George you made me smile and made my day! I have found it takes the same amount of effort for me to be positive and spread positivity as the alternative…. been there, done that. Does not work too well. I am writing a bunch more…a book…I hope many feel like you!

  6. Great post Debbie. What a cool story, thanks for sharing. We need to include your link at the end of all of your weekly submissions in Strokes Suck’s newsletter. Heck I’d rather your blog than a post about someone we don’t know.

  7. Pingback: The Key To Success Is All In Your Head | The Best Brain Possible

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