My friend Irving is the most resilient person I have ever met.
I know of no one who has been knocked down as many times as Irving and yet each time he hits the ground, just like the song, he “picks himself up, dusts himself off and starts all over again.”
He is the person we are referring to when we say, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.”
When Irving was 16 he was hit by a car while walking home from football practice.
He suffered breaks to both legs and extensive damage to his lower back but, with what would become his trademark determination, he took this incident to mean nothing more than a small blip in his life, pushed himself through excruciating recovery and, the following season, helped his football team achieve a record season.
Three years later, while a student at university, he fell down a flight of stairs re-breaking one of his legs and being confined to a hospital bed with a head injury for several weeks.
Undaunted, he asked his classmates record as many of the lectures as possible and continued to work as hard from his hospital room as he had from his dorm.
Four years later, just as he was beginning his professional career, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Never allowing the smile to leave his face he underwent the requisite treatment while taking a minimum amount of time off from work.
In his early 30s a business partner fraudulently cleaned out their corporate bank account, maxed out their substantial line of credit and disappeared leaving Irving with mountain of bills to be paid and payroll obligations to be met.
Forced to put his business into bankruptcy, Irving worked two jobs, “one to pay the bills and one to save for my next business.”
A few months into his 18 hour workdays he was stricken with yet another bout of cancer causing him to lose his house. He spent the next few years fiercely fighting cancer while battling to keep a roof over the heads of his wife and three children.
Irving never complained, he simply “did what I have to do” to win both battles.
It took him more than four years but eventually he started a new business that has prospered and provides an enviable lifestyle for him and his family.
Four months ago, at age 54 he had a heart attack. A few days in hospital did nothing to daunt his spirit or dampen his enthusiasm for life. Since then he has dutifully followed the advice of his medical advisor and is working hard both in his business and on rebuilding his health.
Irving has been a lifelong practitioner of The Habit of Getting Back Up. As he explained to me one day, his guiding principle has always being a sentence he read as a young teen that indelibly imprinted itself on his mind. It read: It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. What matters is how many times you get back up.
The Habit of Getting Back Up, as repeatedly demonstrated by Irving, teaches us that although life frequently deals us harsh lows, each punch contains within it the seeds of opportunity that are available to us should we choose to pursue them.
I mentioned earlier that I have not met a more resilient person nor have I met many who can match Irving for his infectious cheerfulness. Not only does he model The Habit of Getting Back Up for us all but he also does it each time with enviable determination and passion.
The Habit of Getting Back Up: It doesn’t separate those who can from those who can’t, it separates those who will from those who won’t.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.