I’m often asked where my never-ending optimism and energy came from. I look for positive in every single situation through what I say to myself and what I believe. It is not about the circumstances, but how we respond internally to what happens to us. That determines our thoughts and feelings, those result into action and ultimately set the course of our destiny. I’ve learned to control my inner dialogue and that helped me to take charge of other areas of my life. This is of course a journey with no destination…
Rise and fall of civilizations
Arnold Toynbee, the historian, developed what he called the “challenge-response theory” of history. In studying the rise and fall of 23 civilizations, Toynbee concluded that each civilization started out as a small group of people – as a village, as a tribe or in the case of the Mongol empire, as just three people who had survived the destruction of their small community.
Toynbee concluded that each of these small groups faced external challenges, such as hostile tribes. In order to survive, much less thrive, these small groups had to reorganize themselves to deal positively and constructively with these challenges.
By meeting each of these challenges successfully, the village or tribe would grow. Even greater challenges would be triggered as a result. And if this group of people continued to meet each challenge by drawing upon its resources and winning out, it would continue to grow until ultimately it became a nation-state and then a civilization covering a large geographical area.
Toynbee looked at the great civilizations of human history, ending with the American civilization, and concluded that these civilizations began to decline and fall apart when their citizens and leaders lost the will or ability to rise to the inevitable external challenges occasioned by their very size and power.
One of my my favorite authors of all times Brian Tracy was the one to point out that Toynbee’s theory of civilizations can be applicable to our life as well.
“You are continually faced with challenges and difficulties, with problems and disappointments, with temporary setbacks and defeats. They are an unavoidable and inevitable part of being human. But, as you draw upon your resources to respond effectively to each challenge, you grow and become a stronger and better person. In fact, without those setbacks, you could not have learned what you needed to know and developed the qualities of your character to where they are today.
Much of your ability to succeed comes from the way you deal with life. One of the characteristics of superior men and women is that they recognize the inevitability of temporary disappointments and defeats, and they accept them as a normal and natural part of life. They do everything possible to avoid problems, but when problems come, superior people learn from them, rise above the, and continue onward in the direction of their dreams.”
– Brian Tracy