Can you imagine a life free from problems, struggles, and difficulties? While it is a nice thought, you know it is unrealistic. But what if we could see the opportunities these challenges bring into our lives? Is such a thing possible? Absolutely!
Let’s look at the good that challenges can create in our lives.
Adversities and obstacles
Two words most people dread are adversities and obstacles. Each implies problems, and who needs more of them? The thing is, no one gets through life without their share of difficulties.
But what exactly are adversities and obstacles?
The Oxford Dictionary defines each as:
adversity (noun) — difficulties; misfortune.
obstacle (noun) — a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.
Imagine changing your view on such things and learning to see them as friends, not foes.
Making friends with adversities and obstacles
Instead of seeing adversities and obstacles as bad, change how you look at them. See them for their usefulness. Pay attention to how they help you learn, grow, get stronger, mature, and achieve more. Because of them, you become more, do more, accomplish more, and improve. Imagine how boring life would be without challenges!
Let’s look at some words of wisdom to help reshape our opinion of these terms in our lives.
“There is no education like adversity.” Benjamin Disraeli (1804- 1881)
Without adversity, you would not learn much about life. When you were in school, if you were like many of us, it wasn’t easy at times. Yet, working through these difficulties, you learned. When you started your first job, you battled inexperience. As you worked through the difficulties, you gained valuable experience.
Because difficulties are unavoidable, and life is full of them, why not see them for what they are — as opportunities to learn and grow?
“Success is 99 percent failure.” Soichiro Honda (1906–1991)
You may debate Honda’s percentage, but there is a great deal of truth in his words. If you never fail, you don’t grow. If you don’t grow, your abilities and capabilities lag behind, leading to an unproductive life.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean (1925–2010)
While changing the world may not be possible, changing what you do in the world is. We can fight against the wind and the world or use it to take us where we want to go.
Imagine going through school constantly fighting against the system. Your progress would most likely be little or nonexistent. Yet when you learn to use the educational system to your advantage instead of fighting against it, life becomes easier and more fruitful.
If you are to make any progress in life, it is necessary to coexist with the wind, world, adversities, and obstacles.
“It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf (1940-present)
How you see adversity determines how you react to it. You, not adversity, determine where you take your life in the end. Adversity is inevitable, so the better you learn to deal with it and adjust your attitude to find the opportunity, the better off you will be.
Overcoming adversities and obstacles
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember, that’s where you will find success.” Thomas Watson Sr. (1874–1956)
Thomas Watson’s words in the above quote became a life-changer when I first heard them. When I started in business, I avoided making mistakes because I didn’t want people to look down on me. When I learned it was through the mistakes that I became better and achieved more, the entire course of my life changed.
Too often, we are so afraid of failing we do not act. How could one ever grow without acting, failing, learning from it, and improving — as many times as necessary? Watson, the founder of IBM, understood this. His advice is one of the wisest things spoken in recent history.
Failure is not the enemy of success. It is the pathway and ally to achievement.
Look at what Thomas Edison, the inventor whose success is practically unrivaled, had to say:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison (1847–1931)
The challenges Edison faced throughout his life to bring light into homes were enormous. It took more than the invention of the lightbulb. Before the masses could use lightbulbs, an entire power generation and distribution system was required. Talk about a challenge! I am thankful he overcame the obstacles to make our lives better!
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. … You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Walt Disney (1901–1966)
With big dreams come much adversity and many obstacles. No one knew that better than Walt Disney. The challenges he took on and overcame to fulfill his dreams are almost unimaginable. Despite bankruptcy, a nervous breakdown, and the concept of his famous mouse being rejected more than 300 times by banks and others, he not only succeeded, his dreams came to life and exist worldwide to this day!
May you find inspiration in the preceding words to go forward in life unafraid, with the ability to see the enormous good that comes from your daily challenges.
Heed the wisdom in one of Shakespeare’s many writings:
“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Now go, embrace adversity and obstacles for the good they will create in your life!
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