Mission Possible! The Six Common Denominators of People Who Overcome the Odds

By Paul Huff

When I first began studying the success stories that define my Make Your Own Miracle concept, I was overwhelmed by the riveting honesty and raw courage of each account. But I also became a man driven.

I wanted to know WHY these people-a diverse cross section of individuals from every walk of life, from around the world, whose struggles with every conceivable type of adversity began as early as birth and as late as age 82, – ALL survived and thrived. They did the impossible. I call them miracle-makers.

I kept asking myself. Despite their ethnic, cultural, financial and chronological diversity-were there common threads that allowed them to make it, when most do not?

What did they have? What did they do? What did they feel? In other words what went into making their own miracle?

Sure I hoped that I would find a leitmotif that screamed out loud and clear: “here it is. Do this and everything will be fine!” Of course, there was none of that.

I discovered instead that while there is no one answer, no one right way, there most definitely are common threads that run through most of the accounts and that can serve as a checklist of sorts for anyone do deal successfully with adversity.

1. A Relentless Commitment to Survival: If there is one common thread to all miracle-makers it is a total refusal to give up despite the opinion of experts, despite the pain and suffering, despite looking disaster squarely in the eye.

All of these survivors in one way or another said “yes” to life, not just once, but time and again and it wasn’t mere lip service. It was a “yes” said from the heart, from the soul and with the commitment and certainty that they WOULD defy the odds and make it.

2. Clarity of Purpose: People who win, whether it’s at professional sports or a battle with cancer, have their eye on the ball. They are mono-focused on their goal. Everything else takes second or third place to the objective.

Miracle-makers display that unwavering clarity of purpose as they fight for their lives, literally and figuratively. Whatever the circumstance, they stay focused until they get the result they want.

3. Belief in A Higher Source of Power: People who overcome incredible odds find solace in prayer and thanksgiving. In seeking the help of a higher power and asking others to do the same they often find the strength to go on and the belief they will achieve their desired result.

Many see their current situation as a miracle that God has showered upon them, accompanied by a commitment to help others as they continue on in life.

4. A Definably Positive Attitude: Odds-beaters maintain a “positive” attitude throughout and after their adversity. That doesn’t mean they were always smiley and bubbly. “Definably positive attitude” is all about expectations– about expecting to be OK.

Throughout my life and my career, I’ve seen attitude make all the difference in the world everywhere from the board room, to the football field to the sick bed. Attitude either soothes or sabotages. It either sinks or saves us. People who do the impossible all are the happy outcome of their personal “self fulfilling prophecy”- that’s what attitude is all about.

5. Surrounded by TRUE Supporters: Euripides, the youngest of Athens’ three greatest tragic poets once said, “Every man is like the company he is wont to keep.” People who overcome the impossible surround themselves with people who encourage and inspire them to be more than their current situation.

The world is full of enablers, people who will let you settle for less. Odds-beaters want no part of that. In some cases they have a cadre of supporters; in others it is just one crucial person who makes the difference. But make no mistake about it, miracle-makers hang around people who are TRUE supporters and believers.

6. Better After Than Before – It is amazing and heart- warming to me to discover that these odds-beaters, people who have literally been to hell and back, are now stronger, better, more giving people as a result. Many say that if their journey helps even one person, it was all worth it.

They are true winners with a new gusto for life, for learning and for loving. They have given meaning to their suffering and have reached “the highest level of human evolution” in their ability to connect beyond themselves and help others find self fulfillment.

It’s important to note that in virtually every case, odds- beaters tap MORE THAN ONE of these strategies and the support of family and friends is almost always cited as one of the keys to success.

I invite-no, I urge–everyone reading this article to look at these common denominators. Whether you are currently in the throes of adversity, or helping someone who is, you will find here the components that survivors of the very worst circumstances have found to work for them.

Not all will be for you, but find the right personal mix and as Shakespeare said “grapple it to your soul with hoops of steel.” For it is in these strategies and from these tactics that you will make your own miracle.