26 October 2012

Overcoming Adversity

I’ve been struggling with what life has thrown at me lately and I remembered a quote; and how it penetrated my thoughts the first time I heard it. “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him” – David Brinkley. Life throws bricks at all of us, and it is our reaction which makes us, or destroys us – not the bricks.

We can shoot a green glance at a fellow human being – “they’ve had it so easy – why can’t it be that easy for me?” We don’t see that our green glance is tinted with rose. It may appear to us that our fellow human beings are having a much easier journey – but if we bother to find out the truth behind their success it is likely we will uncover an entirely different account. Worrying or dwelling about our plight brings me to another quote I tweeted recently “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere”.

Image in the Public Domain
I can almost guarantee that the subjects of your green glances have had plenty of adversity and bricks thrown at them throughout their journey. Their reaction was not to sit in their rocking chair and worry - at least if they did they didn’t stay there. At first glance Dame Kelly Holmes made her two gold medals in Athens seem so easy, as if they where a formality. I recently saw an emotional interview with Dame Kelly by Piers Morgan. I was amazed that she even made it to Athens after learning the amount of and weight of some of the bricks life threw in her direction:

Image by Russell Garner
  • Dame Kelly’s mother was faced with the choice of getting rid of her baby, or leaving her parent’s home to make her way all on her own. The father didn’t stay around to help her. Her mother chose Kelly and hardship. One can’t help but admire her mother for that.
  • Dame Kelly was in and out of a children’s home as her mother struggled. 
  • Dame Kelly battled injury after injury until it seemed that her dreams had slipped away. Athens was her last chance to make it happen, and it could have gone horribly wrong. 
  • Dame Kelly did not get through her hardships without mental scars – adding to her pile of bricks. 
Despite all this Dame Kelly Holmes took those bricks, built a fire and used it to spur her on. This was not before she had already lost many medals to adversity.

I wonder whether Dame Kelly Holmes would have found the glory she did in Athens if it hadn’t been for the foundations she built through adversity? We will never know that, but what I do know from experience is that every adversity you overcome makes you stronger. You learn from your experiences mentally and emotionally. You gain confidence because you know you are capable of overcoming adversity. Your end goal begins to mean more to you and you become more determined. You no longer take anything for granted so you become a better person inside and out.

Next time you face adversity start by taking a look at the pile of bricks you have already amassed – you may have to look hard, but you’ll be surprised. You’ve done it before and survived, more than you may think. Have you been rejected by a life partner and survived? Now there’s a big brick. Any rejection is a brick thrown in your direction – big or small. Look at the difficulties you have got through in your schooling; your relationships; your career. Your bricks will be many, and your foundation sizeable.

I was recently given a lecture on this very subject. I was slapped around my face with the wet octupus of my achievements in the last 12 months. I paraphrase - “You’re beating yourself up for not having your career travelling at 100 miles an hour yet, but hang on... You could barely even walk 9 months ago! You’ve just come through hell with your father’s illness! Look how far you’ve come!” Basically, I’ve overcome a lot of adversity already.

In some respects with the size of those brick foundations, getting my career back on track should be a breeze. It doesn’t feel like it, but I’ve scaled larger mountains, it’s true. I’ve learned much from my illness and that of my father. I learned and developed in the time I was forced to take off work. So much so I’m a different person, with skills and understanding I would not have had, but for my adversity. I didn’t waste my bricks rocking back and forth worrying – I used them to make me stronger. I’ve had a lot of bricks thrown in my direction, caught them, and survived. They are now mine to use as I see fit. I could sit on them and rock – but that would be out of character. I will use them to build, and I hope that I can inspire you to do the same.

What adversity have you suffered in life? Upon reflection, did it make you stronger? Why not share your experiences below to help to inspire others?

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1 comment:

Ellephantastic said...

Well you know my bricks!! You know I have had many & I am still building with them. A lot of my building is thanks to you so not only have you come forward in leaps & bounds yourself don't forget the effect you've had on others like me.
Hugs x