success adversity persistence creativityMy favorite picture book (sadly out of print) has fourteen words in it.

I reread it frequently and share it often with others. It is the story of a tiny mouse whose job it is to move a gigantic purple elephant. He tries pulling, pushing, bribing with peanuts, and crying, all to no avail.

Finally, he becomes inventive and moves the elephant speedily with the noise from a large golden trumpet. And, it’s a very good thing he is such a critical and creative thinker, because he discovers that he has ten more elephants to move…

And so do you…and so do I.

Adversity, persistence, creativity.

These are the three secrets, pillars, if you will, upon which all success seems to rest.

Secret #1: Adversity

A problem to be solved; a solution to be found. When we look upon adversity as a lesson and a guide, we can avoid being devastated by it and instead pick up the pieces and, like reading tea leaves, look for a pattern and uncover the message. If we can maintain an optimistic view and see a difficult situation as something to be overcome, we grow as individuals. As William Butler Yeats said,

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure not this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

Secret #2: Persistence

The World English Dictionary has the following entry for the word ‘persistence,’ n. the quality of persisting; tenacity. Tenacity is a good word, I think. To me, it conjures up a determination that is almost (and sometimes actually is) violent because it is so visceral. And those who are most successful are simply dogged in their determination to overcome the adversity that drives them. Over and over, they chip away at their problem, not giving up, hanging on when things don’t go right, keeping on, keeping on.

Secret #3: Creativity

It is generally held that that fear, money, competition, and time pressures will create the most inventive of solutions, but nothing could be further from the truth. A study at Harvard into conditions surrounding creativity found that the opposite was true. Anyone can be creative under the right conditions. And it is by experimenting, playing, collaborating, and testing in a safe environment that provides freedom and autonomy that the most, and best, creative solutions come about.

Together these three elements work together to provide answers to the most vexing questions. If you can mesh them together, you’ll feel like you have the key to the secret of life.

The fourteen words?

Oh yes.

If at first you don’t succeed; don’t cry, cry, cry; just try, try, try!

What problem can you get creative with today? What knotty issue can go at again and again until you get it right? Tell me in the comments! It would make me day. 🙂

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The 7th International NexusEQ Conference is taking place at HARVARD UNIVERSITY in Boston, June 24-26, 2013. There isn’t a lot of time left! Join me, and luminaries such as Peter Salovey, Marco Iacoboni and Herbert Benson, for a ground-breaking three days. You can read more details about it here. :-)


Anabel Jensen

President of Six Seconds and professor of education, Anabel Jensen, Ph.D., is a master teacher and a pioneer in emotional intelligence education. A two-time Federal Blue Ribbon winner for excellence in education, she was Executive Director of the Nueva School from 1983 to 1997 where she helped develop the Self-Science curriculum featured in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence.

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