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Why is a bird not concerned that the branch on which it is precariously perched might break? Because the bird can fly. Why is one man terrified of old age and the onslaught of illness, while another takes it in his stride? Why does one panic when financial stress hits, while another calmly deals with it? Why does one person go to pieces when he loses his job, while another sees only opportunity?

At the age of sixty-four, I have seen people on both sides. I talked this morning with a woman of eighty-two, and last week received an email from another one aged eighty-four, and both are actively building their businesses. Google multi-millionaires who got rich in their own businesses after getting fired from a job. Note how many business owners went bankrupt several times before attaining great success. These people can fly.

Any nurse can tell you stories about people who coped exceptionally well with astonishingly difficult physical ailments. I see how well my wife (above) has coped with years of pain and physical restriction. She doesn’t just fly – she soars. And the ability to fly is not simply a matter of attending a seminar run by some narcissist in a shiny pink satin suit; it is accomplished through hard work.

I knew a Buddhist who could fly; the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path were a part of his very being. My sister is a Christian who, without her relationship with Christ and the work she puts into her daily walk with Him, plus her understanding of His way, would never be able to cope with her extreme physical challenges. Instead, she enjoys the “peace that passeth all understanding.”

And it all comes down to how we interpret our circumstances and challenges in life, how we frame them, how we choose to perceive them. We are all capable of choices, of what we focus on. Where focus goes, energy flows, and results grow. When you hang around with people who point out the hopelessness of your situation and emphasize the problems, you have little chance of flying. Consider Job’s wife, who, as a solution to his dire straits, recommended he “curse God and die,” or his so-called friends who told him that God was punishing him for his past sins.

From a financial perspective, the elderly have to endure physical frailty, and this exacerbates our financial challenges as the cost of pharmaceuticals, operations, and dental work soar. Fortunately, many of us come from an era in which personal independence, good manners, respect, discipline, and responsibility was a way of life, so we have the built-in ability to fly if we choose to do so.

By the time I turned 23, I was married with a child, I had finished school, spent a year in the army, worked for the government for a year, done part-time jobs while attending and completing a three-year diploma course in Hotel Management, and I was now running a restaurant. Believe me, I can fly. I hear of useless, thirty-five-year-old pot smokers who still live with their aging parents. They are incapable of flying.

Learn to fly: adopt the right value system, surround yourself with winners, feed your mind with the correct information, learn to change the stories you tell yourself about the circumstances you face and the choices that lie before you. Talk with, and learn from those who have attained real success in life and who cope well with adverse conditions. Make courageous choices. Take full personal responsibility for every area of your life. Stop playing the blame game. Step up and man up. I told a friend whom I was coaching, “It’s time to put on your Bitch Boots.” She did.

It’s never too late to start over.

Robin Elliott

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