Book Excerpt: ‘Adaptable’ーHow to Lead with Curiosity, Pivot with Purpose, and Thrive through Change | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 22, 2024
The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” – Kalpana Chawla

What would happen if each time you failed you tried just one more time? What if you applied to one more job? Ran one more mile? Went on one more date? For author Alexa Carlin, life has been shaped by a series of “one mores.”

Rebounding from illness and compounding personal challenges, Carlin urges readers to use their setbacks as launchpads for success, rather than a reason to abandon hope. We invite you to read the first chapter of Adaptable below and experience a taste of Carlin’s honest and inspirational story of resilience. 

Chapter One:  The Greatest Comeback 

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. 

This self-evident truth should be something you hold on to in order to push forward and chase after what you want in this life, yet the fear and uncertainty of the knockdowns hold so many people back.

You have the power to always rise again and to be straightforward with yourself, no amount of “playing it safe” will keep you from the hardships of life. You can’t escape it. You can’t hide from it. So, you may as well do what you want while you are here. Take risks. Dream big and then dream bigger. Try something new. Speak up. Stand tall. Go on an adventure. Get lost. Get found. Be goofy. Color outside the lines. Just do you.

Because 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.

My victim mindset, the triggers of post-traumatic stress, and the fear are consistent companions that I must negotiate with each day. They are very much a part of who I am, but they do not define what I can or cannot do.

I would love to say I had one huge knockdown and since then have been able to come back stronger than ever, yet this is farthest from the truth.

Because I haven’t had just one knockdown, I’ve been knocked down over and over and over again. 

And I’m still going through the knockdowns. 

I don’t have all the answers figured out or have this “perfect” life, but regardless, I’m still chasing after my dreams. I’m deciding every single day to stand back up because that is what you must do in order to live the life you deserve.

And I hope this book will help you make the same decision on your own journey.

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, 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 …

I lived in fear every day for those seven years. Every time my mom called just to say hello my heart began to race as the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) would trigger and I’d be nervous to hear what she had to say on the phone, nervous that again, something bad was happening. (And my mom called me probably ten to twenty times a day.)

It took me a very long time and a lot of strength to try and come out of this constant fear and I’ll be honest, I’m still working on it. I’m not completely free from living in the past because it’s so engrained inside of me.

When I was twenty-one years old, I had a near-death experience that changed my entire life, when a deadly bacteria got into my bloodstream and left me in a coma fighting for my life in the intensive care unit with only a one-percent chance of survival. I thought that this was the one big knockdown I’d have to overcome, yet six months after that I was diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness, ulcerative colitis. Now this was the hardest thing I’d ever have to try and come back from.

Each time I thought I was on the path to remission, I’d get knocked down again.

One year after my near-death experience and a few months after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I moved back home to South Florida to gain the support of my family. I left all my dreams in New York City behind, thinking that would be a fresh start. Yet a few weeks after the move, I found myself again in the hospital diagnosed with yet another illness.

This is just one of many moments where I was trying to stand back up, but before I even could get on my two feet, I was knocked down again by another obstacle.

Hit after hit, it became harder to trust the journey. It became harder to try and find hope.

When everything in your life is going okay, and you’re knocked down, you have more strength to get back up quicker. But what happens when you are already way down and you get hit again?

It gets harder to find the strength to stand up, to find the hope to not give up, and the willingness to want to even try again.

But when you understand how to rise again and again, no matter how low you are from all the knockdowns, that is when you become unstoppable.

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.

One way I do this every day is by reminding myself that my fearful thoughts are not who I am. They are a product of my past and I am the conscious being just experiencing them.

Just because these hardships happened in my past, they do not predict my future. And if I’m still standing after all I’ve been through, that must mean I can continue to come back from anything.

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.

Understand that it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out just yet. It is okay if you’re going through obstacles or tragedies right now as you’re reading this. Just because you are dealing with hard stuff that’s causing you pain does not mean you can’t also bring in the good things, like chasing after your dreams…

Through the seven years of tragedy, I was growing my businesses. I never stopped. My dreams were the light inside all that darkness. 

If anyone or anything knocks me down today it may hurt, and it may push me back some; but I can promise you one thing: It will never be able to keep me down.

I’ll continue to stand and continue to rise until the day, I decide to give up, which will likely never, ever come.

In order to be able to live the life you love, live the life you’ve dreamt for yourself, all you have to do is keep on getting back up.

Want to read more? You can buy Adaptable here from Carlin’s website. You can also check out our Optimist Daily Update interview with Carlin here. 

Not done with your adventure? Read the Right Place, Right Time excerpt from author Ryan Frederick here. 

About Alexa Carlin: 

Alexa Carlin is an in-demand public speaker, TV personality, author, and founder & CEO of Women Empower X (WEX), the premier community for women entrepreneurs. Alexa uses her infectious energy and courageous spirit to empower women to turn their obstacles into opportunities and pursue their dreams.

Her company, Women Empower X, helps women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and brands through WEX’s cutting edge courses, events, and publishing division, WEX Press.

Alexa Carlin has worked with Fortune Global 500 brands to create captivating and relatable content and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Cheddar TV, FOX, ABC, CBS, TEDx and in Entrepreneur, Glamour Magazine, and Forbes among others. 

Excerpted with permission from Adaptable, by Alexa Carlin, WEX Press, 2021

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