Your life isn’t defined by how many times you succeed, but rather how many times you fall and decide to get back up. Life, people, events may knock you down, but they can only keep you down if you decide to let them. Nothing can defeat you without your permission.
When I was twenty-one years old, I had a near-death experience that changed my entire life. I was in college, growing one of my first businesses, and only months away from graduation when out of nowhere, deadly bacteria entered my system sending my body into septic shock. The doctors told my parents, “We have to induce your daughter into a medical coma. Call your family, she has 24 hours to live.” I was given a one-percent chance of survival. But I found power in being the underdog and I pulled through.
At the end of the day, no matter what you do or what you experience, you have a choice: Stay knocked down or get back up. The decision is up to you. You do have the strength, you do have the power, you do have the potential to bounce back.
There is no way around the fact that life will knock you down, but you don’t have to let it keep you down. It is your job to train yourself and your mind to have the strength to always rise again.
I could have easily stayed down. I was knocked down one tragedy after the next for seven straight years. I experienced one hit after another. From my sister almost taking her own life, to my near-death experience being given a one percent chance to live, to my dad losing his business, to a close relative relapsing on drugs, to my parents splitting up briefly, to my family dog’s sudden death, then the external family disowning my own family, followed by getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, then struggling with this debilitating illness, to countless hospital stays, and multiple moves across the country, to lots and lots of loss, heartbreak, and obstacles …
You can have the greatest comeback in history when you learn how to commit to the decision that, no matter what, you will stand back up. Another way to be able to have the greatest comeback, is to work to stand up while experiencing the knockdown. You don’t have to wait until it’s over.
Create your comeback story and integrate it into how you lead your life. The more you can share your comeback story with others, the more you’ll be viewed as a vulnerable, authentic leader who truly has the power to influence others.
Here is how you can create your C.O.M.E.B.A.C.K. story:
Courage– Write down one fear that you must gain the courage to move through, despite the fear.
Ex) I’m afraid I’m going to get sick again. I’m afraid people will judge me.
Opportunity– Discover one opportunity that is available for you today because of where you are.
Ex) I have the opportunity to be able to be near my family. I have the opportunity to start my own business.
Message– Write down the one message you want to share with the world.
Ex) You can always rise from any challenge regardless of circumstances.
Example– What’s a personal example of how you learned that lesson/ message?
Ex) Illness, a death, a failure, or getting fired… any specific time in your life where you learned the above message you wrote down.
Backstory– Vulnerably share the backstory of where you were then and how you pushed through to get to where you are today.
Ex) This is where you share more details on what led to you getting knocked down to the point where you discovered the lesson and message.
Action Steps– What are the exact action steps you took during that time?
Ex) I journaled, meditated, registered my business, moved to a new city… What did you do to get through the tough times that others can also do?
Create– What have you created or want to create because of this journey?
Ex) I now live in my dream home; I found my significant other; I started my dream business; I traveled the country. Write out what you created in your life as a direct result of going through the tough times. If you haven’t done it yet, this is where you can share what you want to create.
Knockdown Repeat– Write down one quote or mantra that will help you repeat this comeback story anytime you get knocked down.
Ex) I trust the journey. I am strong and resilient.
Example of my Comeback Story using the outline provided: I’m still afraid every day I’ll get sick, something bad will happen in my family, or my dreams won’t work out as I intend but I fear regret more than I fear failure and because of this, I decide to push through. There are so many opportunities that lie ahead for me to share my story and grow my business that I must not give up. I want to show people that regardless of the circumstances they encounter, they have the strength to continue to rise above and achieve their dreams. I know this because I experienced it firsthand. From my near-death experience to my autoimmune disease, I’ve been knocked down too many times to count, and for a long time I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do the things I always dreamt. One day, I decided to stop playing the victim and start taking action. When no one would give me an opportunity to speak and share my story, I created my own stage with my own events. I shared my journey vulnerably every day on social media and I began to take one action step a day to grow my business. I now get to do what I love full-time, I met the person of my dreams, and I’m finally at a point where I’m healthy and happy. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t, but through this journey I know I will always be able to stand tall after getting knocked down. Every day I remind myself how strong I am and allow myself to surrender to the journey, knowing that everything is going to be okay as long as I never give up.
Once you have your template of your Comeback Story written, you can then elaborate on it. It’s important to take the time to write your story out so you have it to come back to when the tough times do come your way. You need to always remind yourself just how strong and resilient you are.
Know that everyone (and I mean everyone) has a Comeback Story and I’m challenging you to discover yours and then share it with others. You never know how your story will change someone’s life.
Everyone loves a good underdog story.
Alexa Carlin (pictured) is a keynote speaker, CEO of Women Empower X, and author or Adaptable: How to Lead with Curiosity, Pivot with Purpose, and Thrive through Change.