Imagine being 17 years old and in foster care. You are already parenting two children and you are pregnant for a third time. Many would call that the story of a failure. But that girl was me, and I never gave up. I pushed through the adversity, faced the odds, went to college, and received a Master’s Degree. I beat the odds.
What made me different? How did I press past the statistics, stereotypes, negativity, and naysayers? Everyone has the odds stacked against them at some point. But instead of a guaranteed defeat, I approached facing the odds as an opportunity to grow. When we look at the odds as opportunities instead of setbacks, we can beat each and every one. Here are the most important rules I followed to beat the odds.
1. Every Experience is a Lesson
Every experience, whether good or bad, is a lesson. Good experiences teach us what works. Bad experiences teach us what doesn’t work. Miss the lesson and you’ll make the same mistake again.
We often beat ourselves up before even recognizing the lesson and developing ways to beat the odds. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insane. Learn the lesson, recognize your strengths during the challenge, and allow yourself to grow.
2. Think Outside of the Box
How do you find the lesson in unfavorable odds? Think carefully about your actions and what you could do differently next time. Often, the lesson is that you should do the exact opposite of what you are accustomed to doing.
For example, let’s pretend you are accustomed to resolving conflict by arguing. You will see repeatedly that your method of conflict resolution is not working. You then have the opportunity to become a better problem solver.
3. Take Time to Reflect
We miss some of the most obvious lessons because we never take the time to reflect. It’s hard to sit down and let our decisions sink in, but when we don’t, we put ourselves at risk of repeating the behaviors that prevented us from beating the odds.
4. Don’t Give Up
Having the odds stacked against you only leads to defeat when you allow it to. Many of the greatest authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, and musicians started their careers facing many odds. They didn’t get published or sell millions of records at first. Their plans failed the first, second, and third time before they got it right.
These people didn’t give up. They worked harder, planned more, and gave it another shot. In order to triumph in anything, you must stick with it even through the hard times. Believe that you can beat the odds and you will.
5. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
Sometimes the limitations are not in our thoughts or actions, but in the people that we surround ourselves with. Find people who build you up. Negative people fill your head with challenges before you even get started. Recognize their behavior and dismiss them before they hurt you.
Oftentimes we want to hold onto familiar people, regardless of whether they are bad for us. That includes family, friends, associates, and anyone we give our time and space to. Bad influences, even family and friends, are energy drainers. Not everyone understands your journey. Don’t take it personally and don’t try to force them to understand your vision; just leave them behind.
You Are Stronger than the Odds
People don’t expect teen mothers in foster care to go to graduate school. But no matter what kind of odds you are facing, you can win. By reflecting on your actions, learning from your mistakes, surrounding yourself with positive people, and never giving up, you too can beat the odds.