All of us, at some point in our lives and careers, will face adversity—it’s inevitable. How we handle our setbacks determines our success. This was Justin Forsett’s message at Smart Meeting Southwest on Tuesday.
Speaking to planners and suppliers at Omni Frisco Hotel just outside of Dallas, Forsett—a 9-season NFL veteran—embodied the importance of determination amid adversity. His inspirational keynote address, “Greatness Grows Best in the Shadows: A Story of Perseverance and Hope,” told the story of Forsett’s climb from poverty and shame to a life of success and fame. He shared with the crowd all the ups and downs and lessons he learned along the way. As he noted, “How we get to the top is more important than being there. We get our greatest gains when we are being challenged. That’s when we grow.”
Forsett’s four ingredients for overcoming obstacles and creating success:
- Excel at what you can control. Sometimes obstacles can feel insurmountable. Forsett understands that all too well. He advised attendees to stop asking why, and instead, ask how they might benefit from those obstacles in the long run. From there, “focus on what you can control and excel at it,” he added. “I was able to play NFL for 9 years, not because I was the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but because I was able to excel at what I could control: my attitude, effort, preparation and the ability to make people better around me.”
- Be prepared. Preparation helped Forsett excel. He noted that never giving up is especially important when you find yourself in the shadows. “I made a decision in the midst of adversity that I wouldn’t let those moments define me…I put myself in the best situation possible to maximize every opportunity,” he explained. He urged the crowd to “always compete at a high level,” using faith, heart and perseverance, and to “never give up.”
- Build your huddle. Using a football analogy, Forsett stressed the importance of building a huddle—a team of supporters who have your back and encourage you when times get bad. “You can’t do [it] by yourself,” he told attendees. “You have to have a team around you.” And while your team should be supportive, they should also hold you accountable to be the best you can be, he noted.
- Serve others. Forsett believes that service—to one’s community, family, friends, employees, teammates and clients is vital to success. “Leaders must serve; leaders have the opportunity to change lives…if you feel you are too big to serve, then you are probably too small to lead,” he said.