“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” ~Chinese Proverb
I wasn’t the best student in college. I skipped classes, didn’t do my assignments, and barely studied for my tests. Needless to say, I flunked those exams.
I realized after a few months that I didn’t want to continue on like this. If I wanted to make the most out of my life, I had to first be responsible for my studies.
So I buckled down and set out to achieve the best results. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not talking about the studying part. There was resistance all around me.
First, my schoolmates weren’t the most positive people in the world.
My college was one of the poorer performing schools then. Many students weren’t happy studying there as it wasn’t their first choice. They often degraded themselves, saying “we’re doomed for failure.”
If that wasn’t enough, my teachers were discouraging; too because many were disgruntled about working there. They kept comparing us with the students from schools they taught in before—the better schools—saying we’d never get anywhere.
I decided to ignore the negativity and spend my energy working on my goals.
At the end of college, I was the top student in my class and won the Most Improved Student Award by the school. I would later enter one of the best Business Schools in Asia, be a Dean’s Lister in all three years of my study, and graduate as the top student in my specialization.
If you have aspirations, you’ve dealt with resistance, too, and will deal with more in the future. Here are six personal principles to deal with external resistance and excel in life:
1. The bigger the resistance, the greater your potential.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states for every force, there is an equal, opposing force. It’s the same here; no big dreams ever come true without an equivalent form of resistance. In fact, the bigger the resistance, the greater your potential on the other side.
The biggest achievers in the world got to where they are today only after overcoming endless resistance.
Whenever I face a roadblock, it tells me this is something worth going for. The more roadblocks there are, the better. It just makes the end result even sweeter when I overcome these blocks and achieve my goals.
2. Obstacles are there to prevent you from getting to the other side. (Randy Pausch)
In Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, he talked about how obstacles exist to stop you from getting to the other side. The other side is where your goals and dreams are. Just because you face obstacles that doesn’t mean your goals aren’t feasible. It just means you need to tackle these obstacles first to get there.
The obstacles are only a test to weed out people who don’t want their goals enough, and guess what—that’s not you. You are better than that.
Back when I faced resistances, I never once thought my goals were impossible. I knew this was just temporary and it was a matter of time before I achieve my goals. Likewise, whatever resistance you experience is just short-term.
3. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals. (Sydney Smith)
Are you spending more time staring at your obstacles? Or do you have your eyes locked on your dreams? The more you spend time thinking about your obstacles, the more you will feel overwhelmed and negative.
Your thoughts are like the seeds in your mind. The kind of thoughts you have will bear fruits of the same nature. Negative thoughts will give you negative fruits, whereas positive thoughts will give you positive fruits. Do you have more negative or positive seeds?
Spend more time thinking about your goals, how they inspire you, why you want them, and what they mean to you. These will give you the fuel to take action.
When I pursue my goals, I don’t think about how unfair the world is, why I am facing this, or how scary an obstacle is. These are all disempowering thoughts. I focus on why I want to do something and what it means to me. These empower me and spur me on to take action.
4. Look at the source of the comments before you consider them.
It’s easy to let ourselves be affected by other people’s comments. While you should be open to feedback, you should also factor in where they are coming from.
Who is the person commenting? Is this person’s life the kind of life you aspire to lead? If the commenter isn’t doing so well in the area he is advising on, maybe you should discount what he says to you.
For example, back in school, one of my teachers advised us to “settle” and stop aiming high because we would be setting ourselves up for failure. However, when I looked at her life I recognized that she was in her fifties, had been working in the same job for over decades (which was fine, except that she didn’t seem passionate about her work), and she was unmotivated and negative.
This wasn’t the life I wanted for myself, and hence I decided not to heed what she said. I’m glad I didn’t because it worked out extremely well for me.
5. You don’t have to please everyone. Trying to do so only makes you miserable.
It’s in our inner nature to be inclusive and make everyone happy. However, it’s not possible to please everyone and it’s not worth it to try.
All of us are diverse with our own opinions, beliefs, and values, and trying to conform only results in you compromising on your beliefs. Don’t be afraid to disagree where you need to and stand up for yourself. It’s all about learning how to deal with these critical people.
If you face people who are overly resistant to your dreams, consider reducing contact with them and spending more time with the people who support you. Your time is precious; spend it with people who elevate you, not people who pull you down.
6. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. (Mahatma Gandhi)
After years of pursuing my goals and dreams, I realized one thing: people resist because they are afraid.
When they hear about your goals and they object, it’s because they’re afraid of who you are and what you can become. More than that, they’re afraid that you might actually be right and they have been undermining their own potential all along.
To quote Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Don’t take resistances personally. People who ignore you, laugh at you, or even fight you do so because they are scared deep down inside. Take your stance and go for what you believe in. Fight for what you want. Go all out in your pursuits.
As long as you keep at it, it’s a matter of time before you achieve what you set out to do. I did that, and I continue to do so every day. You can never go wrong as long as you do what you love to do and set out to live your best life.
Photo by Jiaren Lau