From tragedy to triumph, from billions to bankruptcy and back; one man’s incredible advice for overcoming adversity.
In 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported a study conducted by the State University of New York and the University of California which seemed to prove true the old adage of "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." The study was geared towards evaluating how people can successfully adapt after exposure to traumatic events or circumstances.
According to the study, people who had experienced a few adverse events in their lives reported “better mental health and well being than with no history of misfortune.”
Think you know the story of overcoming adversity? You don’t know Jack!
Jack Doueck is a much-sought-after public speaker, a published author, global investment manager and the architect behind the 6 Steps to Overcoming Adversity.
In a span of just four years Jack lost his parents, his life’s savings, many of his close friends and witnessed the financial crisis destroy the company he founded which managed more than a billion dollars for investors around the world, and had recently been ranked as one of the top Fixed Income funds in the world by Barclays Bank. Many of us, myself included have experienced massive setbacks, unanticipated hardships or tragedies, yet few are able to say it made them stronger.
From tragedy to triumph, Jack Doueck opens up on his life and his 6 steps to overcoming adversity.
Image: Jack Doueck presenting his workshop at Baruch College.
Jack, can tell us a little bit about your background and how this whole thing started?
We started our business in 1997 and we had our share of ups and downs. Then 2002 was a rough year due to the treasury market shake up. I needed a system to keep myself positive and I developed the 6 step process to overcoming adversity from 2002 to 2005. In 2005 I started teaching this as a volunteer in the City University of New York at Baruch College. Seniors in college loved it and I received hundreds of emails from students telling me that they were using my program every day. I gave courses and lectures in Queens College, high schools in NY and NJ and in community centers.
As it turned out, those lectures prepared me for the great financial crisis of 2008-2010. While literally hundreds of banks were going bankrupt and being seized by the FDIC we were going through a 4 year nightmare. I lost my parents, my life’s savings - it was a mess.
While I was teaching it I didn’t feel like I overcame my adversity, but now in 2015 I feel I’m finally on the other side.
When you teach your classes in Baruch, what is the most important thing for you?
If you’ve ever been to my class, you’ll know that the first thing I do is place my personal email on the board, and ask people to email me with feedback and questions. I’m only interested in making a difference in other people’s lives. I promise myself before each class that I will provide new valuable information, real inspiration and overall enrichment.
I teach the 6 steps of overcoming adversity, the 5 dimensions of blessings with a focus on the 4th step which is appreciation and gratitude. When things go wrong people tend to lose perspective. For example during the financial crisis investment professionals with families (and an abundance of wealth) had to face into huge losses. Tragically, many decided to end their own lives. So I teach young adults to recalibrate their minds; to look at all the blessings they still have. I tell them “for the next 30 days take an inventory of your blessings in each of the 5 dimensions of your lives. What are your physical blessings? Your financial blessings? Your spiritual blessings? Your mental/intellectual blessings? Your emotional/social blessings? Something goes on one of your five lists if it passes the following test: What do you have, that, if you lost it – you would be upset?”
Here are some practical questions you can ask yourself to help you make the lists: Can you see, hear, walk, taste, smell, touch, breath, walk, talk, run, exercise, rest? Those are some basic physical blessings. Some people think that they have the most adversity financially – so I advise them to ask themselves: Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food to eat? Clothing? Do you have running water? Electricity? Books? Basic possessions? (if so, you are doing better than most of the human race). These all go on your list. The ability to pray is a Spiritual blessing, as would be your charitable nature, your kindness, your good deeds, your faith, your honesty etc. If you can read, write, think clearly, remember things, study, and concentrate – then you have mental or intellectual blessings. If you have someone who loves you – put that person down on your emotional/social list of blessings – all the people you love, your family, your friends, etc. If you consider yourself to be trustworthy – one of your blessings is ‘trustworthiness’, or maybe your ‘interpersonal skills’ belong on this list. Now make your five lists and spend each day for the next 30 days adding to your lists and reordering them – from the blessing you value most to least. For example – ask yourself tough questions – such as ‘would I rather have hands or eyes?’ if it is eyes – then eyesight goes on top of the physical blessing list.
Can you briefly breakdown the 6 steps?
Step One: Facing into the Adversity with Faith
(Naturally you deny and withdraw, Facing into it with faith)
Step Two: Forgiveness - No scapegoat, no blaming.
Step Three: Learning the Lessons - If you lost a million dollars, try to look at it as if you just paid a million dollars for tuition, so you might as well learn the lessons of that adversity.
Step Four: Appreciation and Gratitude - 5 dimensions of blessings, take an inventory (see above).
Step Five: Giving - take your adversity and give back: go volunteer, visit cancer patients in a hospital, give iut food in a soup kitchen…
Step Six: Taking Action – Strategize & exercise in all five dimensions and try to improve your life every single day.
You can do Physical exercise, but also financial exercise – helping yourself in this dimension. You can do spiritual exercise by praying or helping people; mental exercise – by reading a good book that has nothing to do with your job. Emotional exercise would be telling the people you love that you love them, - give your kids a hug, they may think you’re crazy - but you just enriched their lives.
You can read the full details on Jack’s blog: Here
Can you share some inspirational stories that personally contributed to your growth?
Someone I know once lost a gold watch and she fell into depression. If she had done “the five dimensional inventory” from Step 4, she probably wouldn’t have even thought about putting the gold watch on the list. However, now that it is lost, it was all she can think about – day and night. Perspective is lost when you don’t look at the whole picture. Active appreciation is most important; it saves people from depression, bitterness, etc.
The 5 dimensions of our personalities are interdependent: when you lose your job, can you still handle dealing with family and everyday life? Sadly, things spill over into every dimension. A death in the family, losing a house or losing a job, can spill over into the other dimensions. Millions of people lost their homes in the financial crisis. Overcoming adversity is the ability to not let adversity in one dimension spill over to other dimensions.
I know many men who lost their jobs in the crisis. One such man tried, but had no luck finding a new one. So he took his free time and volunteered. He didn’t break up with his girlfriend or let it spill over to the other dimensions of his life. From the volunteering project, he eventually got connected to someone and now earns a six figure salary.
When I lost my business, my life-savings, and endured the sudden death of my parents – I kept looking at all the things I still had: like healthy children, my wife, my extended family and friends who loved me unconditionally. I forced myself to look at the blessings I still had in each of the 5 dimensions of my life and that saved me from deep depression. In fact, I made up five index cards and laminated them – and read each one over and over each day. On the cards were my blessings – one card for each dimension.
What should our mindset be if we want to be successful in life?
There was an Olympic gold medalist who is the only one in history to win 4 gold medals in four straight Olympics – that is becoming and staying #1 in the world 16 years in a row - 4 golds in 4 Olympics in row. A reporter once asked him how he did it? His answer was his 1460 chart.
There are 1460 days between Olympics.
He showed the reporter the chart and the check boxes with the number of days between the Olympics. He said that he worked out every single day and would not go to sleep before the box was checked. He had to constantly beat his ‘yesterday’s best’ – so that he was training and working on himself harder and more often than any other athlete in the world. That is what makes champions – constant improvement - every single day.
If you want to live a happy and peaceful life, a life that will bring you the strength to overcome all your adversity – then work on each of your five dimensions each and every day. This creates strength and gives you balance. Following the six steps each day builds your resiliency. Then, when you encounter a problem in one dimension of your life – you will have what it takes to win using the 6 steps to overcoming adversity.
If you have any questions or comments – please feel free to email Jack Doueck – JD@advancedenergycap.com