Adversity is the grindstone of life. Intended to polish you up, adversity also has the ability to grind you down. The impact and ultimate result depend on what you do with the difficulties that come your way. Consider the phenomenal achievements of people experiencing adversity.
Beethoven composed his greatest works after becoming deaf. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote the History of the World during a thirteen-year imprisonment. If Columbus had turned back, no one could have blamed him, considering the constant adversity he endured. Of course, no one would have remembered him either.
Abraham Lincoln achieved greatness by his display of wisdom and character during the devastation of the Civil War. Luther translated the Bible while enduring confinement in the Castle of Wartburg. Under a sentence of death and during twenty years in exile, Dante wrote the Divine Comedy. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in a Bedford jail.
An amazing example of facing adversity
Finally, consider a more recent example. Mary Groda-Lewis endured sixteen years of illiteracy because of unrecognized dyslexia, was committed to a reformatory on two different occasions, and almost died of a stroke while bearing a child.
Committed to going to college, she worked at a variety of odd jobs to save money, graduated with her high school equivalency at eighteen, was named Oregon’s outstanding Upward Bound student, and finally entered college.
Determined to become a doctor, she faced fifteen medical school rejections until Albany Medical College finally accepted her. In 1984, Dr. Mary Groda-Lewis, at thirty-five, graduated with honors to fulfill her dream.
Adversity – the grindstone of life. Will it grind you down or polish you up?
We grow when we are stretched
I believe that the only time our character grows is when we are under pressure or facing adversity. When we are not under pressure is the time when we rest, and recover. Rest and recovery is crucial to achieving a happy and well balanced life. We need to rest our bodies and minds regularly or we face burnout.
However, when we are under pressure, stress or facing adversity, provided we handle it correctly we grow our comfort zone and character. I remember being a young man who had no confidence whatsoever and I remember a day which still haunts me, if I dwell too long on the memory.
My worst fears realised
When I was 18 years of age I had to introduce a lecturer to four students sat around a small table in tech college. It was my turn to introduce the guest lecturer and all I had to do was say ‘Please welcome professor Brown’. On the face of it a very simple task. However, because of all my insecurities built up during my school years, I froze with fear.
I remember my palms sweating, my heart beating fast and a loud noise in my head. I went to the toilet to calm down but I couldn’t. When I sat back down and looked at those faces – I froze. There is no happy ending, I bottled it and he had to introduce himself. I was embarrassed, humiliated and hurt. I didn’t understand that I had negative anchors going back to the young insecure boy.
There is a happy ending!
Over the years, I have built up my confidence to such a degree that I am now happy speaking in front of hundreds of people. This didn’t happen overnight but increment by increment. First I spoke in front of 5 people, then 10, then 50, then 100, then 600.
My belief is that when we are under pressure our comfort zone grows, and when we are not under pressure we rest and recover. Because of this we can benefit from both. When I am under pressure I know that when I look back on that particular episode, I will be able to see how much I have grown, and when I am resting and recovering I can simply enjoy the experience.
Thoughts for the week.
1. What are your thoughts when you experience stress, pressure, or adversity?
2. Try to listen to your inner voice and work out what you are saying to yourself
3. If your inner voice is negative you have a problem
4. Winners face adversity by changing their inner voice from negative to positive
5. You really can make a big difference to the way you feel if you change from negative to positive self-talk
I have much more about this in my book and there is a special £10 offer for a personally signed book including postage and packing to all my blog followers below.
Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to sharing more with you next week.
Off the Wall – How to Develop World Class Mental Resilience available here