Monthly Archives: March 2012

Succeeding when you’re supposed to fail by Ram Brafman

I bought this book on a lark. I am glad that I did.

Rom Brafman points out that for as nearly as long as can be remembered in mental health services that what happened to you dictated what you did. By and large, he states, “The prevailing notion in the field used to be that few could realistically overcome their circumstances” (Bram, 2011 p. 12).

They can’t help it, they were born into a really bad situation. Their parents were (fill in the blank). Look at the hand they were dealt, no wonder they do what they do.

Then one day it all changed. Brafman points out that it was by accident that the field discovered that there were people who overcame their circumstances. They didn’t allow the pathology of others to drag them down. They didn’t allow being born into bad circumstances hold them back. They didn’t allow being captured by an enemy to break them or keep them from achieving amazing things.  He calls these people tunnelers, which is a science term.

The field discovered people who succeeded when they should have failed. When many would have written them a pass for failing. When many would have been willing to chalk up that failure to circumstances outside of their control.  Brafman states that when the masses of people who have succeeded when they should have failed are studied six characteristics emerge.

They are:

The limelight effect—Tunnelers have a high sense of inner locus of control. This means that they believe they control their destiny.
Meaning making—Tunnelers find meaning in what is before them and what they are doing.
Unwavering commitment—Tunnelers believe in themselves and their calling. They will stick with a task as long as necessary.
Temperament and success—Tunnelers believe in developing an “even tempered disposition” They’re unwavering commitment means that a loss or set back or a series of them will not cause them to lose faith.
Humor counteracting adversity—Tunnelers enjoy laughing and humor. It helps them deal with the different opportunities that life tends to send their way.
The importance of a Satellite—Tunnelers have someone in their life (sometimes only for a necessary season) who invests in them and acts as a satellite.
This book is a great read. If you are one of the people who society seems to think “should fail” read this book. It may encourage you. If you believe that people are a simply a product of their what life has dealt them, read this book. It will challenge you.

Life is hard, of that there is no doubt. But we do not have to be slaves to our circumstances.
You may enjoy more of my writings on my personal webpage, found at


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized