Prepare yourself for what at first glance might appear to be a bit of a bold statement.
When Napoleon Hill — considered by many as one of the all time legends in personal development & success thinking said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” I believe he was both right — and wrong.
Before you think I’ve gone and done the unthinkable, doubted the wise words of Mr. Hill (in a public forum no less), please bear with me and allow me to explain.
First, I will agree he was absolutely correct in that if a person is honest with themselves, and willing to look objectively they will see where their particular challenges actually made them stronger, even better prepared in some way for what was required of them in order to meet with success in a given endeavor in the future. So in that respect, of course I will concede that Napoleon Hill was correct…
That said, the challenge in the very statement from Mr. Hill is that in order to benefit from the lesson adversity has in store for us, we must be willing to first accept that there’s a lesson in the first place. Confused? If so, don’t worry, there’s simply no easy way to state it, but if you’ll stay with me for a moment longer I promise to clarify my point 🙂
Here’s a hint: it’s up to us to choose to see the truth in his statement about adversity having in it a benefit otherwise it’s highly likely that it’s going to go right over our head.
Allow me to restate my point, because I believe it’s very important. On the one hand, absolutely, every adversity has in it, whether we choose to see it or not, the opportunity to grow, and in fact become better in some way for having experienced, and overcome the given challenge. However, the second point is that unless we can hold onto the belief — especially when doing so is anything but easy — that along with every adversity we have the unique opportunity to grow as a result of working through whatever it is then there is a very good chance, unfortunately, that we’re simply going to miss it all together. It’s a bit of a catch 22 when you think about it isn’t it?
On the one hand, if you hold to the idea and belief that your life challenges, no matter how difficult they may be at the time can actually serve you in a positive way — somehow, someway — you’ll find that you not only have the strength to continue on, but that you will come out the other side better for having made it through. By the same token, if you simply chalk up what’s happening in your life as being “unlucky” or “life picking on you”, or whatever other phrase you wish to use to describe your given situation then your opportunity to grow is very likely going to fly right over your head.
Interesting isn’t it?
My own life experience has shown me that adversity, if we are open to seeing it, is in fact an opportunity to become better, more prepared in many cases for our eventual success in a given area.
Adversity is something I’ve had my share of in life. Most everyone has experienced some level of adversity and life challenge, so I’m not about to compare my life to anyone elses, that’s just plain silly, however, I will share the following example because I think it does a particularly good job of illustrating how working through challenging times can, and often does leave us stronger and more prepared.
In case you’re not aware, or haven’t heard me giving one of my speaking presentations on “Overcoming Life’s Challenges” you may not know that I have Tourette’s Syndrome (a neurological disorder, which can include a whole host of varying symptoms, including, but not limited to tics, twitches, and the like). While it’s for the most part always been relatively mild, at one point in my life I dealt with a specific symptom I affectionately refer to now as a “blocking tic”.
In short, imagine not being able to literally spit out a word you want to say. The best way to describe it is if you knew exactly what you wanted to say, the words got as far as the back of your throat, and try as you might, you just couldn’t push them out. Long story short, I’ve had anxiety along the way, a phobia over the phone, and not I might add because I was necessarily afraid of the phone, but rather that when people called me they might think I was a prank caller, which by the way is especially bad when they are the ones calling you, and they think you’re prank calling them :-). But enough about the specifics of my particular adversity.
Here’s how my adversity actually served me later on…
Believe it or not prior to the particular “blocking tic” starting I had been doing telephone sales in our family business. I was actually pretty good at what I did. Then flash forward the challenge I mentioned above showed up in my life and as a result I found myself feeling like many of the life skills I had honed to that point and taken for granted in some cases simply weren’t available to me. After a while I ended up starting a website, to begin with it was little more than a hobby type site (this would eventually become GetMotivation.com). However, it didn’t take long before it started getting a number of visitors, and along the way I decided I would share my own thoughts and ideas on topics related to motivation and human potential. The only catch was, at that point in my life I was still dealing with the particular “blocking tic” I mentioned.
The idea of sharing my message through traditional speaking or presentations seemed far fetched to me at the time. I could barely articulate what I wanted to say I thought. Still, I knew I had a message that was worth sharing. The obvious (and only one it seemed at the time) solution appeared to be to write my thoughts as articles. While I didn’t have any formal training as a writer or journalist I opted instead to simply write just as I would if I were speaking my thoughts. The key here was that I made the choice to do the best with what I had at the time, and instead of waiting to have all the needed writing and perfect grammar skills before starting, I committed to start, and learn and get better along the way.
While I had more then my share of critics, years later I can honestly say that things have worked out for the best. What’s most interesting and perhaps is a lesson I think you can use from my life and learn from is this — when I began writing my thoughts, it was out of sheer necessity, however, years later, as I’m writing this, the limitation then, at least at this point in my life is a thing of the past. I’ve been on many a stage, both in live appearances as well as teleseminars, and other platforms, and each time I do I get better and better. However, without a doubt my ability to write and share my thoughts through articles and the written word has been one of the most important skills I have acquired.
Plus, writing gives me personal satisfaction, and continues to open up a number of opportunities which are afforded to me in my profession. So the point is simply this, what I viewed at the time as something I was doing out of necessity, has become one of the most important pieces in the advancement of my profession. People from all over the world have become familiar with me and the work I do as a result of my writing. That my friend is the biggest proof I have to date that Mr. Napoleon Hill knew exactly what he was talking about when he famously said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit”.
It’s also worth noting that had I not always held to the belief that I was as capable as anyone — no matter what challenges in life I happened to be facing — of achieving success in my life I would have no doubt missed the incredible opportunity which was unfolding right in front of me.
We all have a choice, to keep the faith, whether we can see it or not, that something far greater than ourselves is conspiring to make us, bigger and better in some way. The reality is, whether you choose to accept it or not, that you my friend, were made for greatness.
It’s your life, LIVE BIG!