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Deluded? Audacious? Not Necessarily Bad Things

The other day I saw the movie Before Midnight.

If you like dialogue and character development movies, it’s a great flick.  It takes an unflinching look at relationships: the bad, the mundane and the good.

Ethan Hawke is the male lead.  At one point, he utters a line that has little to do with the movie plot and a whole to do with life and career success.

As he and his wife are wandering a picturesque Greek town he says, “Sometimes I think you have to be deluded to stay motivated.”

I love this line.  It gets at the difficulty in taking personal responsibility for your life and career.

Sometimes we all seem to be delusional when we follow our life and career success dreams.

But as Ethan Hawke’s character notes, sometimes it will seem as if your persistence makes you feel as if you are delusional.

You’ll run into lots of problems and setbacks on the road to your life and career success; some big, some small, all frustrating.

For example, my internet went out suddenly a couple of days ago.

I tried all the quick fixes I know.  Finally, I called my DSL provider.  After four calls and an hour and a half, I was told that my modem was no longer working and could not be repaired.

Have you tried living without internet for a day or two?

It’s amazing how much I’ve come to rely on being connected.  I was really frustrated, but then I realized that there were lots of things I could do without an internet connection, like writing this blog post.  I also could have headed to a local Starbucks and worked there.

Big problems and setbacks can really test your ability to stay motivated.  A couple of weeks ago, I was on a panel at the National Conference on Work and Cancer.

Most of the people in attendance were being treated for cancer or were cancer survivors.  In most cases, cancer had a significantly negative impact on their lives and careers.  Yet there they were.  Positive and engaged with the presentation; asking all sorts of questions about how to bounce back after cancer.

Delusional?  Some may say yes.  I would say that they were hopeful.  In 2006, the junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, wrote a book called The Audacity of Hope.

He was audacious and hopeful enough to run for and win the presidency in 2008.  The audience at the work and cancer conference were also hopeful and audacious enough to think that a little thing like cancer wasn’t going to derail their careers.

I was asked to be on the panel because I am a career success coach and a cancer survivor.  My thyroid cancer was never as serious as that of most of the people in the audience at the conference.  Yet I can tell you from personal experience that you never want to hear the words “cancer” and “you” in the same sentence.

I took a proactive approach to dealing with cancer.

I planned my schedule so that I would return to work four weeks after my surgery.  Delusional?  Audacious?  Some might say so, but I met that deadline.  Four weeks after my surgery I was on a plane traveling to a leadership workshop I was conducting for one of my client companies.  I was motivated to get back to work and not let cancer get the better of me.

My cancer experience wasn’t all that bad.  I have a strong constitution.  I heal quickly.  I had a great surgeon.  And, I didn’t have to undergo chemo.  My follow up regimen involved swallowing several radiation capsules.  Regardless, my cancer surgery was a major life event.

The point here is simple.  Sometimes staying positive and motivated in the face of difficulty may seem to be delusional and audacious.  Yet, you need to be a little bit delusional and audacious if you are going to accomplish the life and career success goals you set for yourself.

You need to have a dogged optimism in your heart.  When tough stuff happens, choose to be a little delusional and audacious and you’ll be on the road to the life and career success you want and deserve.

Read more posts by Bud Bilanich, Ed.D., The Common Sense Guy, a career success coach, leadership consultant, motivational speaker, bestselling author and influential blogger for JenningsWire.