Monday, March 09, 2009

Facing Adversity

Merriam-Webster defines victory as “ an achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties”. To be victorious without adversity is not only unfulfilling but it is not possible. The feeling one gets atop a mountain is more rewarding after a climb that challenges your character than not to climb and to be placed on top without any struggle. All success stories are a result of getting through some hardship, difficulties or danger. Adversity in our lives is the space that separates where we are now to where we wish to be. Lance Armstrong for example said his best day was not on his bike but having overcome cancer and the character he built along the way. Tough times build character and our ability to handle this adversity is a predictor of our personal growth, future contributions and happiness in life. Blaming, whining, complaining or giving up are symptoms of individuals or organizations beaten down by adversity. We all have a unique purpose in this life, a mountain to climb or a contribution to make. You have 3 choices while climbing your personal mountain (experiencing adversity) - You can continue to climb, you can camp or you can quit. Here are some thoughts to consider while going through adversity to end up on top of your mountain and enjoying the view.

1) Attitude There are approximately six billion people on the planet, and it’s estimated that two billion of them live on $2 or less per day. Put in all in perspective; our standard of living is the highest the world has ever seen. We are in the top 10 percent of income earners in the world. Maintain perspective by focusing on what you have not what you don’t have.

2) Contribution During times of adversity it is very easy to give into habits of selfishness or self-absorption but we must remember it is more productive when we continually give our best to others. Create a list of personal values such as family, health, a meaningful career, a personal hobby or faith. Each area of your life invites you to make specific contributions that improve quality of life for yourself and others. Winston Churchill once said “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

3) Prioritize Once you clarify your most important priorities we can begin making progress in the most important areas in our lives. Try to think of your to-do list as items that must be done, items that should be done and items that could be done. It sometimes is a matter of discipline because the should-be or could-be lists appear to be easier or more fun. Do what you need to do 1st followed by what you want to do.

4) Character building Developing character with the following positive traits is natural when adversity strikes: Perseverance - through the continued pursuit of our endeavors and is demonstrated by our ability to keep climbing. Courage - a quality that enables us to overcome difficulties with firmness and resolution. Integrity - being true to yourself and others. Patience – Having the endurance to wait calmly for things to happen and not rushing gratification. Humility – respected leaders are servants to others and do not boast pride or arrogance. Character inspires greatness and character helps us make greater contributions in the world.

5) Personalize your mission Write your own personal definition of success and know that it is customized to you. Success is relative and not what the dictionary defines it to be: “the accomplishment of what is desired or aimed at; the attainment of wealth, fame and prosperity.” This definition is not realistic because we know that the process of accomplishing what is desired can often make us miserable and we know that the happiness attained through of wealth and fame does not last and is unsatisfying. Create your own individualized definition of success based on personal values and what you give back to the world.

Those who are relentless in their personal ascent up their mountain are always learning, growing, adapting to change and experiencing life to the fullest. These people are engaged. Those who decide to camp half way up have lost their edge and have exchanged their dreams and aspirations for the comfort of a common life. They are content with just getting by and are disengaged. Those who quit end up bitter and miserable about life and are actively disengaged. In a world that consists primarily of people content with camping out and never reaching the top, challenge yourself to be different! Embrace adversity because it provides the opportunity to develop extraordinary character and gets you to where most others fear they cannot go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing I try to teach people. Can we count on a sequel?