1 out of 3: How people who thrive under stress stay motivated


I write and speak about “Thrivers” a lot (Change Your Day, Not Your Life). The reason is that these people are 18% more productive, are more engaged at work, they are also more physically fit, have hobbies outside of work, and often describe their relationships outside of work as fulfilling. Basically, when you don’t feel this way, these are the people you love to hate. Sure, as a stress and productivity speaker, I often feel like a Thriver. But, I’ve also struggled many times to maintain my productivity at work, stress level, and even my sense of control on my work-life as a whole. I often confess during my work-life balance programs that about every six months I become the person who I aspire to help. But, the good news is that I also get to attend my own presentations. For the past 23 years, I’ve researched, read research and worked with Thrivers. When you do that for so long, patterns become clear. One such pattern is that people who thrive under a high demand life are more focused on the solution to a problem than the problem itself. Let’s see how good you are at this. In my Thriver Quiz I ask the question: “How do you feel when you read this statistic: ‘Only 1 in 7 people who have had a heart attack chose to live a healthier life, even when their doctor told them it would save their life?’” The answers are: Encouraged or Discouraged. Of the hundreds of people who’ve taken this quiz, 64% answered “Discouraged.” I don’t blame them, especially if you think about it this way, “Wow, only 1 in 7 people were able to change even though they’ve had a heart attack (which is a serious wakeup call). What change do I have to change when people with their life literally on the line cannot?” As you might guess, this is not the Thriver answer. Thrivers are the 36% who answered, “Encouraged.” They think about it like this, “Wow, change is hard, but 1 of 7 were able to change. I wonder how they did that?” Thrivers see the problem, but focus on the solution. 

Let’s re-test you. Researchers (Nordstrom BL1, 2005 Oct) discovered that a certain type of medicated eye drops can save the sight of those with Glaucoma (an eye disease that reduces your ability to see and can even cause blindness). The problem is that those people have to take these eye drops ten times a day, every day, for the rest of their lives. Certainly tough to do, but if your sight is on the line, taking them is a no-brainer, right? After three years, only 37% of the people prescribed the eye drops were still taking them. When you think about your ability to change/improve your way of life, is this study encouraging or discouraging?

Considering how many responsibilities you have, taking eye drops ten times a day, every day, would be tough. But, one out of every three people found a way. When you think about it this way, you often say the nine most motivating words known to man, “If they can do it, maybe I can too.” People who thrive under stress are more hopeful, optimistic and proactive. Thrivers focus on being that one out of three by looking for a solution instead of giving up. Key ways they accomplish this are by:
• Seeing the threat, but focusing on the challenge
• Knowing the potential outcomes, but focusing on execution
• Understanding the problem, but focusing on the solution

When you are struggling with stress and the many problems life throws your way, try and focus on the solution and you will be the 1 in 3 who make it. 

Citation: Persistence and adherence with topical glaucoma therapy. Nordstrom BL1, Friedman DS, Mozaffari E, Quigley HA, Walker AM. Am J Ophthalmol. 2005 Oct;140(4):598-606. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16226511

Scroll to Top