"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
October 11, 2013
Challenges are the Gateway to Growing
by Dian Thomas

Challenges are a part of everyday life. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what you do for a living, you will have problems. We can’t keep challenges at bay, but we can choose how we deal with them.

Over the years, I’ve learned to cope with stress and other difficulties by using a formula that I created called “Three P’s in a Pod”:

  1. Keep a POSITIVE mindset.
  2. Be open to POSSIBILITIES.
  3. Rely on PEOPLE to help and guide you.

Keep a POSITIVE mindset:

When I was a little girl, every year my parents, my brothers, and I would take a trip to northern Utah to visit my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We stayed with my aunt who lived near the BYU campus, and Mom and Dad would often take us there.

As we walked around the campus, they would smile and say, “This is where you’re going to college.” “Of course it is,” I thought. Unfortunately, not everyone agreed.

In my sophomore year of high school, I took an aptitude test designed to guide my career choice. Shortly after taking the test, I was called in to the school counselor’s office. With test scores in hand, Miss Roberts inquired about my post-high school plans.

I confidently told her that I was going to attend BYU. She replied, “I don’t think you’ll make it. You scored 14 out of a possible 100 in English and 98 out of 100 in problem-solving. You simply don’t have the aptitude in English and writing to survive college.”

She then added that because my problem-solving skills were so high, I might want to consider becoming an auto mechanic.

I decided I was not going to allow another person to dictate the direction of my life. Once I had graduated from high school, I was accepted at BYU. College required a lot of hard work, and it took me five years, not the usual four, to graduate, but I did graduate.

Later, I even received my master’s degree. As Henry Ford said, “If you believe you can do something, you can; if you believe you can’t, you’re probably right.”

2. Be open to POSSIBILITIES:

The United States along with the free world is known for its many possibilities. In fact, America is often referred to as the land of opportunity — or possibilities. The Pilgrims came for religious freedom, and today many come in search of new possibilities.

Brian Tracy, a self-help author on leadership and business topics, said, “The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” What I have learned is it is not luck that open the gate to opportunities, but it is preparation and a positive attitude.

As I travel the world today I see countries such as Peru, which I have been to twice this year, valuing education and preparing their young people for new possibilities. Nothing pleases me more than to see young people learning in order to be prepared to make a better world.

3. Rely on PEOPLE to help and guide you:

People can often be the great gateway to success if they are positive, open, and interested. Just as Google built a network of Internet resources, you can build a people network by always taking an interest in others, learning about their skills and talents, and supporting and encouraging them in their goals and aspirations.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I have found when I share what I want to do and learn with others, that people become my bridges to go where it would be hard to go on my own.

Little did I know that the challenges that I had all through my schooling would become the gateway to help me continue to be creative, which has opened the door to a wonderful and beneficial career. The key for me was to stay positive, be open to the possibilities, and connect to people.

One of the challenges I took on was to lose weight. I put the ideas and tips that I came up and organized in: Tipping the Scales in Your Favor. Permanent weight-loss is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change. There is no one "magic bullet." Instead, it's a matter of consistently incorporating a number of steps that include exercise, eating right and accountability.

It's like leading a symphony: You've got to have all the instruments playing at the same time or you don't get the results.

In my new book, Tipping the Scales in Your Favor, I share step-by-step what I did to lose over 125 lbs. and keep up an active lifestyle.  The pages of the book come alive with practical tips, healthy recipes, more than 175 beautiful color illustrations and my honest story of the journey. For more info go to www.DianThomas.com and check out the book on the right side of the page.

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About Dian Thomas

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born near and raised in the remote, breathtaking Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah, where her father was the forest ranger. She took the skills she learned in the outdoors and turned them into a New York Times best-selling book, Roughing It Easy. Her appearance on the NBC's "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson boosted her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC's "Today" show for eight years and then ABC's "Home Show" for six years. After more than 25 years of media exposure and 19 books, she now shares her practical insights and wisdom with audiences who want to savor life.

A former Relief Society president, Dian is currently serving as a visiting teacher. Visit her website at www.DianThomas.com

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