The life skills in this post will get you through any difficulty…almost any. If it is indeed your time to die, none of the following skills will help.
As long as you’re still above ground, one or more of following life skills will help you cut through any other challenge in life. Any other.
At one time or another, we all need these life skills. In the text below, I’ll share some personal examples of how these life skills have served me in the darkest, most difficult situations in my own life.
That’s right, I know the best personal development models in the world. Yep – I’ve acquired the life skills that gurus sell for tens of thousands. I’ve studied with the masters. You know all those promises about how great life can be when you buy their stuff? I believed them all, bought the programs, put people and pedestals and sat at their feet.
None of the gurus’ promises have actually been true. Life has never been easy – and I no longer expect it to be. My climb to the top has been two steps forward, one step back, fumble, screw up * deal with disaster * and keep going. That’s the raw truth.
Can you imagine where the life skills I learned have gotten me? Right here: Life is difficult. I still have stress. I’m still dealing with the ramifications of naive decisions I made 25 years ago. I have a few enemies that actively hate me, even though I “know” they have erroneous ideas about me.
I still work hard to earn money. Some of the work I do not enjoy so much (admin details). I am raising willful teenagers. I’m 15 pounds overweight. Just when I think I have that one licked, I sabotage it all over again. Back to the drawing board on weight loss….
This is my life. I’m cutting through a massive and often confusing maze of challenges.
In spite of the struggles, I now enjoy some really great stuff that was lost to me many years ago. For example: My mood is very good, consistently. My marriage (second) is what I’ve always wanted (not perfect, though). I can be honest with myself. I feel I have the resources to confront any challenge and survive it well.
I am doing exactly what I want to do with my life, using my gifts and loving my work (minus admin). I know where to draw the line to keep my sanity. I can say no. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. And I have more opportunity to keep doing what I love than I ever thought possible.
Wonderful home that I get to work in every single day….and I am closely surrounded by a few genuine people who really care about me (in spite of knowing my defects) and vice-versa. I don’t associate with people I find too difficult or stressful to deal with. I don’t have to!
Life is good.
In other words, I am moderately successful in life. The good outweighs the bad by far and I know I can handle any badness that will surely arise.
Ok so I’ve rambled.
There is now a warning voice in my head: Don’t tell anyone that you are “mixed bag of success!” You want people to think you have it all figured out…that life’s difficulties are totally beneath you now…and that if they follow your advice, their difficulties will vanish!
Response: I don’t want people following me that hold totally naive expectations. I don’t want the stress of pretending that my life is perfect while hiding behind a facade of total BS. I want to associate with others – both clients and colleagues – who are…well…real adults.
So, if you’re a genuine person, you will absolutely appreciate the following qualities which are so important that they can only be called essential life skills. Here they are, at last:
I once asked a successful non-profit director a question. I was 24 years old at the time, an aspiring young NLP trainer.
And I was about to make a big move from Provo, UT to Albuquerque, NM to start a new NLP training center.
“If you could sum up decades of experience into just one piece of advice, what would it be?” I asked.
She thought about it for a few intense moments. Then, she replied, “Be persistent. Never quit.”
Her words went through me life a warm knife through butter. They somehow found a place in my bones. These words rang in my mind months later when I ran out of money while trying to start my first NLP practitioner training in Albuquerque (1994). I needed 20 people in the group. I got seven. Fail.
I was all out of money. My wife left me to move back in with her parents back in Utah. I rented a crappy little studio apartment and felt like doing myself in. Yep – “Mr. NLP.” I never felt so alone. I was so distraught that in spite of my devout Mormonism, I started drinking and smoking, then had to go through a humiliating process of confession and forsaking of sins (I left the Mormon church entirely at age 37).
Anyway, persistence. It saved me. I was so committed to my new life skill of persistence that I went out and got two minimum wage jobs – 80 hours per week. The jobs supplied living expenses. I conducted my NLP training, then got 20 people the following year, which allowed me to quit the jobs. I don’t even know how I pulled it off in terms of logistics, but I certainly did, and it was the accomplishment of a lifetime for me.
My wife moved back in. I’ve been training NLP ever since. I shudder to think what would have happened had I given up. By the way, year three in Albuquerque landed me an amazing teaching gig. I began teaching NLP in Tokyo, a project that would soon deliver a full-time income by spending six weeks annually in Japan. And the students were the best.
Persistence. It’s everything. Now, time for life skill #2…
Reversal! That’s right. Knowing when to quit is an essential life skill.
Sometimes you need to quit things that are off purpose, a waste of time, or destined to fail. I know this is a direct contradiction to persistence, but that’s life. It’s still true.
In my life I’ve practiced the life skill of quitting a lot. I’ve quit jobs, religions and relationships that simply weren’t working.
Who says you can’t quit stuff that doesn’t work for you? Why would you hold onto something painful? Why keep doing something that is taking you in the wrong direction? In some cases, your negative psychological attachments want you to hang in there until the bitter end, I am sure. Quit that stuff.
It comes down to knowing when to hold and when to fold. Be persistent or quit? These can be some of the toughest and most important decisions in life. And they are necessary.
If you need to, experience the joy of quitting something useless, painful or unproductive. You have better things to do with your life. Knowing when to quit is among the most valuable life skills.
Now for the real trick….
I can’t think of anything that will obscure your path and trip you up more than your self-sabotaging dark side. Here’s why:
Your dark side will want to persist when you should quit and quit when you should persist.
Yes, we all have parts of ourselves that aren’t as positive, loving and productive as we like to think we are. That’s for real. In fact, sometimes pain and struggle are really what we’re after.
This may be why Carl Jung once said: One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. If your confused or twisted desires become conscious, then you can begin to have choice.
The life skill of self-awareness can help you discover when to be persistent and when to quit. Whichever one your dark side desires, do the opposite. Stop feeding negativity and start moving forward on a truly meaningful path that fits your style, talents and natural curiosity in life.
Don’t worry, the challenges and difficulties will be waiting for you, either way. Don’t worry; you aren’t going to get off Scott-free of pain and angst. Yet, if you are persistent when you need to be and quit things that you need to quit – you’ll be far better off in the long run.
Your darker desires don’t really care about that meaningful path you’d like to be on. Admit it. Confront these desires and learn how they create self-sabotage. This life skill represents the first step toward growing deeper roots of success and happiness, in spite of all the difficult things you’ll still have to deal with.
1. To learn how self-sabotage works so that you can overcome it, watch this enlightening free video.
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