I have developed lots of techniques and strategies for dealing with all of the various obstacles that life has thrown at me, and I have even shared some of them with you through my posts. There is one important trait that must be present in order for any of these tools to work on a consistent basis though. This crucial factor is determination. Without the persistence and determination to keep trying to overcome whatever you are facing, you will not have the drive to keep applying these techniques if at first you don’t succeed. You have to go into the problem completely convinced and determined that you will succeed, and that failure is not even a possibility, if you have any hope of overcoming the adversity confronting you.
I have sort of touched on this critical life lesson in my previous posts on not giving up and how important it is to have conviction, but I want to give it a more thorough discussion because of how important it is in finding success and happiness. Determination is more
about developing a mentality or state of mind than about applying a skill. You have to get yourself into the mindset that you will succeed no matter what. You almost have to behave as if the outcome has already been determined, and it is only a matter of time until everyone else realizes it. This does not mean that you do not have to continue to work your ass off doing everything in your power to achieve the outcome you want, but by maintaining this uber confident state of mind, you will be able to persevere through the inevitable setbacks along the way. Your determination will also prevent the pesky, negative thoughts that arise in your brain from taking hold in your mind and knocking you off track. Without this unquestioning belief that you will succeed, eventually you will face a situation that breaks down your will to keep fighting, and you will fail to achieve your goal.
As unlucky as I have been in the old gene pool, I did receive the genetic gift of determination from my mom’s side of the family. My grandmother was one of the most determined, stubborn people I have ever met. Even though she was an orphan from a broken home, had minimal education, and never worked outside the home, if she wanted
something to happen, it was going to happen. Period. Although at times this was a bit irritating, like when she decided that dinner was at 5:00pm whether you were ready or not, there were many more situations where her determination was a major asset. My favorite example of her persistence occurred before I was even born. My grandmother was a big smoker for over 30 years. When my sister was born, the first grandchild in my family, my mother said, “Mom, you will not babysit Stephanie until you stop smoking.” My incredible grandmother was so determined to be a good grandma and spend time with her granddaughter, that she quit smoking almost immediately. She didn’t need nicotine gum or a patch to quit, all she needed was to set a goal and attack it with a complete determination that she would succeed. I am certain that this mentality not only gave her quality time with her granddaughter, but it also added years to her life.
This same innate gift of determination is also very strong in my mother, and it is through watching her that I learned how to use it and how powerful it is. Whenever a situation would arise where we knew that I was being treated unfairly, she would go into what my
family affectionately named, “biting sow mode.” If you have ever seen a mommy pig defending its piglets, you know exactly what I mean, and I say that with all the love in the world to my mother. My mother would get into this mindset, and you just knew, that she might take the whole day to do it, but she was going to get what she wanted. This kind of determination has been very helpful in my dealings with the Medicaid and Social Security offices, where the goal of most of their employees is to get you out the door as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Once she was in “biting sow mode” though, she would just keep badgering the workers and move up the chain of command until she accomplished her goal. Thanks to her determination I always received the services that were owed to me, despite the efforts of the state to deny them. Without her persistence and determination, I am certain that my life would have turned out very differently.
Fortunately, this incredible, genetic gift of determination is also something I possess in copious amounts. As anyone who knows me will tell you, once I set my mind to something, it is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. If I am determined that something is happening, I will find or invent a way to make it so. This state of mind was critical in my dealings with my health insurance company about 7 years ago. As of January that year, my health insurance provider was changing because it would save money for my parent’s employer. Several months before the switch, my parents sat down with the insurance representative to make sure that my benefits would not change in any way. They explained about my around the clock nursing care, and how any little hiccup in my coverage would essentially put my life on hold. The representative assured them that nothing would change, and I would have the same coverage I had always had just under a different name. We went about our lives and January came, and one day a letter arrived for me from the insurance company. This letter stated that according to their doctors I did not require around the clock nursing care, and that they were only approving about half of my hours.
I won’t lie to you, there was a brief period immediately after I read that letter that I freaked out a bit. If I could not beat this, it would essentially mean that I would have to stop going to Notre Dame for at least the semester, and my dream of living an independent life was over. I had visions of my parents and I living together for my entire life, and all of my goals drifting away. After indulging my emotions for a few minutes, I got control of my brain, and I got back up and put my game face on. I decided right then that what this company was doing was wrong, and I was going to fight it. Not only had one of their own employees told my parents that my benefits would not change in front of my parent’s boss, but I also knew that any doctor that actually examined me would agree that I need around the clock nursing care. With all of this on my side, I was completely determined that I was going to appeal this ruling and keep my benefits. It was a good thing that I had this mentality too, because I had no idea of how hard and long of a fight this would be.
The very next day I went to work on this like a pit bull on a bone. I first talked to my home nursing agency about what was going on. They agreed that this was ridiculous and would be overturned, and I convinced them to provide my nursing on good faith until this was resolved when my insurance company would then repay them. This allowed me to continue going to school and living my life as I fought with the insurance company. I then set my sights on appealing the ruling. This meant having my doctors write letters stating in detail why I needed my nurses. I got the letters, faxed them in, and waited the 15 days for the insurance company’s response. It finally arrived, I opened it up completely confident that this was finally over, and I skimmed the first paragraph and saw the word “denied.” Although I was a little surprised, my determination kept me positive and on track as I looked for how to appeal this ruling. The second appeal was in the form of an in person hearing between me and my doctors and their team of doctors. I scheduled this meeting and drove to their corporate headquarters several hours away confident that once they saw me and how frail I was, that this would be overturned. Not only was the decision not overturned, but their doctors didn’t even come in person, they merely were there via speaker phone. I returned home disappointed but still determined to beat this travesty. I went on their website to see what my next course of action should be, and I found that there was one more appeal I could do. This appeal was to a neutral, third party physician whose ruling would be final. It was at this point that my determination and tenacity finally paid off. The doctor that was randomly selected just so happened to be a specialist in Spinal Muscular Atrophy at an MDA clinic. His letter in reply basically said, give this young man whatever nursing he asks for because the fact that you aren’t paying for him to be in a facility is amazing. I now have lifetime unlimited coverage.
This entire process took almost 4 months. This whole time the question of what my life would look like in the end was up in the air. This not knowing, along with the possibility that life as I knew it could be over, and all of the setbacks along the way, would have broken the resolve of most people causing them to give up. Most people would have had sleepless nights and would have stopped making plans for their unsure future. They would have said that they just couldn’t fight it any more, and they just wanted it to be over. Thanks to my determination however, these limiting thoughts bounced off of me like bullets off Superman. It never really crossed my mind that I would not figure this out. I had right on my side, and I was determined to succeed, and I knew that with that combination I was unstoppable.
I have provided you with 3 generations worth of proof as to how important your determination to succeed is in achieving your goals and overcoming adversity. Whether it comes to you naturally or you have to develop this mentality, you must possess this state of mind to be successful over the long-term. You have to build an unshakeable belief that you will overcome whatever obstacles are facing you no matter what you have to do, how hard you have to fight, or how long it takes. Your determination will keep you focused and in control even in the most difficult situations, which will allow you to use the techniques and strategies that I have taught you much more effectively. You will find that once you master attaining a mindset of complete determination to succeed, that there is nothing that you cannot overcome.