4×4 Sources of Strength

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.” -- General George S. Patton

Life can have a lot of ups and downs and your ability to bounce back is one of the keys to your success.

Here is a simple model I put together as part of my 30 Day Bootcamp on Getting Results to help you multiply your ability to bounce back in any situation:


I wasn’t sure whether to call my model a 4×4 Force Multiplier Frame or 4×4 Sources of Strength.   For now, I’m going with 4x4 Sources of Strength.

If you know somebody who’s been knocked down and needs help getting back up, share this frame with them as a way to help them get back on their feet and find their sources of strength from the inside out.

I tried to keep the model as simple as possible and easy to remember, while giving you a variety of sources of strength and energy to draw from.  I wanted this frame to serve as an “at a glance” reminder of how you are a force of one, from the inside out, as well as from the outside in.  Change your frame to change your game.

Here are some ways to bounce back with your mind:

  1. Focus on what you control and let the rest go.
  2. Like a rubber ball … Having the right mental model or metaphor is where it starts.  You can be like a rubber ball and bounce back from anything.
  3. Set limits on things.   If you let your body go until it crashes or runs out of steam, it can be too late.  You have to set limits either in terms of buffers or boundaries or timeboxes.
  4. Ask yourself, “What do you want your life to be about?”
  5. Turn resistance into your sparring partner.  Resistance is the enemy.  Respect it, but don’t let it wear you down.
  6. Visualize the prize.  If it works for Olympic athletes, it might just work for you.  Picture it, then make it so.
  7. Improve your self-talk.
  8. Change your beliefs.   Find a model or learn from others what some more empowering or useful beliefs might be.
  9. Change your focus.   You can change your focus by changing the question.
  10. Focus on what you control and let the rest go.
  11. Change your state.
  12. Know how to psyche yourself up.
  13. Don’t keep solving the same problems.  Burnout isn’t caused by working hard or working long hours.  It’s caused by working on the same problems or not making progress.
  14. Mentally prepare for it.   Simply resetting your own expectations can help you prepare for anything.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
  15. Choose to act strong
  16. Turn a setback into a defining moment.
  17. Take breaks.   Even little breaks interspersed can help you mentally, emotionally, or physically.
  18. Use your renewal patterns.   Maybe this means taking an afternoon siesta.  Find what works for you.
  19. Shake things up.   Sometimes the best way to break out of a rut is to shake things up.
  20. Shift to the future.
  21. Ask yourself, “Who’s in your corner?”
  22. Know that resistance is the enemy.
  23. Brace yourself and pace yourself.  You might have to chip away at the stone.
  24. Remember your heroes.
  25. Remember your shining moment.
  26. Play the right “head movies.”  If you keep playing the wrong scenes in your head, you wear yourself down.  Find a new scene or movie to play in your head that inspires you.

Here are some ways to bounce back with your body:

  1. Allow for recovery.
  2. Take action.  Sometimes you have to take action first and then energy and motivation follow.  You can think of this as “fake it until you make it.”  This is especially true for me when I run.
  3. Play like a kid, sleep like a baby.   I heard Deepak Chopra say in an interview that children sleep like a baby because of their dynamic activity throughout the day. To know great rest, we need to know great activity and vice-versa.  I know for myself that if I don’t get my downtime, I go into a slump. I’m a fan of giving my all while I’m driving a project, and then taking a break after I ship.
  4. Avoid spiking your blood sugar.   Spiking your blood sugar is one of the worst ways to work against your body.  It creates higher highs, and lower lows.  You can reduce the roller-coaster effect by limiting your intake of things that have a high-glycemic index.  Another approach is to balance your ratios of fat, carbs, and protein, such as in the Zone Diet.
  5. Swap out starchy carbs for more fibrous ones.  This seems to be a pattern that helps a lot of people find more energy in a consistent way.
  6. Eat more frequent and smaller meals.   This is another way to balance your body’s needs throughout the day.   One pattern is to aim for having a small meal or snack throughout the day, such as every three hours.
  7. Respect your cycles.  We all have our up times and our downtimes, even throughout the day.   If you find you need more sleep, test giving yourself more sleep.   Know your peak energy cycles throughout the day and leverage those.
  8. Don’t bake bad habits in.  When Bruce Lee was “off” or he couldn’t practice a technique properly, he stopped.  The last thing he wanted to do was burn in a habit or practice that was ineffective.

Here are some ways to better balance and bounce back with your emotions:

  1. Think the thoughts that serve you.  Your thoughts create your energy.
  2. Pull yourself forward by what you really want to do.
  3. Grow your compassion.  Keep your heart open.  One of the worst ways to kill your lust for life is to grow callous and cold.
  4. Hold yourself high.  Your physiology affects your emotions in a strong way.  Sometimes you need to smile before you feel happy.
  5. Believe in yourself.  This might mean as simple as deciding that you’ll “give it all you’ve got” and “whatever happens happens.”  You don’t have to put your focus on your ability.  You can put your focus on your effort or your determination.  Where you put your focus will change how you feel.
  6. Find your “why.”  This is how you light your fire from the inside out.  Don’t depend on external things to keep you going.  Root yourself firmly in your own foundation.
  7. Leverage your relationships and network.  There is strength in numbers or even just somebody who wants to listen.

Here are some ways to bounce back with your spirit:

  1. Make it bigger than yourself.   Find a cause where you can put your focus on something you think is great.  Having a cause is a great way to get back on your horse or back up to bat.
  2. Do what you love or do what you were born to do.  Either way, you win.  If you can’t find your calling, then look for your unique contribution.
  3. Connect to your values.
  4. Immerse yourself in great literature or music.
  5. Find the synergy.  According to Stephen Covey, we unleash our spiritual intelligence when we combine meaning, integrity and contribution – by serving and lifting all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees and their families, communities, society — to make a difference in the world.
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