Have you ever worked your way through a life event that was challenging or daunting? An event that seemed to knock you down over and over again? You know, the kind that takes a toll on you – physically, mentally, and emotionally?
Once through and the hardship was behind you, do you remember how you felt? Was there a sense of relief that the weight had been lifted from your shoulders? In that moment, whether you knew it or not, you were a stronger person.
There is much to be learned from these moments in our lives. I like to think of it as redemption. Now, you’re asking yourself, what does it mean to be redeemed? By definition it is the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for something else. In other words, taking back what is yours. It’s an act of regaining control of a previous state prior to an adverse condition. The end result is that we grow and understand how to handle and manage adversity.
The truth of the matter is that we can’t escape adversity. It alway has been and always will be something that we will encounter as we move through life. Adversity has the ability to build us up and make us stronger, or it can break us down, lowering our self-confidence and our ability to keep control of our lives.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve found myself working through what seemed to be one life challenge after another. From moving to a new state to finding a new community of friends, undergoing an extensive knee surgery to transitioning jobs, it has not always been easy. Through it all, I’ve reached the conclusion that adversity isn’t something that we overcome. Rather, it’s something that manage, and it’s better managed when we have the ability to embrace whatever challenges we face.
I began this blog three years ago with the title of ‘Building United’ and the tagline of building up ourselves in order to build up those around us. Most recently, I have taken seven weeks off from writing, and in the meantime working towards a new website and focusing on where to go from here.
While working through this project, I recognized that one common theme seemed to show up in most of my articles – adversity. In some manner, the focus point of my writing had a tendency to share ideas about handling adversity, and as a result, strategies to help work through the struggles that we encounter. In many cases, I would use my own personal stories and experiences and draw parallels that I hoped most readers would find relevant.
Today isn’t any different.
To be completely honest, this isn’t the article that I had planned on writing today. The article that I had prepared was completed earlier in the week. However, last night at 9:30pm, I realized that I had lost today’s article. As a result of transferring some files from one computer to another, today’s content didn’t make it from one computer (which I no longer have), to the computer in which I am currently using.
I became angry. Frustrated. Pissed off. Why did this have to happen the night before I’m supposed to reveal a new website to my readers. In this moment, I grabbed the closest piece of paper I could find laying around, snatched a pen, and began jotting down notes and anything I could remember from what I had previously written.
And you know what? As I sat down to attempt to re-write what I had already created, it donned on me that there is a chance this content just might be better than what I had previously written. This was adversity at it’s best, coming at me when I least wanted it to, but knowing that I needed to embrace it.
Life has the ability to challenge us in more ways than we can count – death of a family member, addiction, financial struggles, losing a child, disease, illness, work, relationships, etc. – and I firmly believe that we have three options to choose from when these situations arise, and last night was not any different.
- Run to Adversity – When people run towards adversity, my experiences have shown me that it’s with an ‘I can do all attitude’. No matter what happens, I am going to push through, fighting until I come out on the other side – no matter how hard it might be along the way. The downside to this approach is that it doesn’t always allow us to process through and understand how to actually manage adversity. An individual can only ‘battle through’ a series of adverse conditions for so long until they begin running in the opposite direction.
- Run from Adversity – Running from adversity is typically done with the thought process that whatever we are facing will go away so long as we run far enough away from it. So long as we distance ourselves as much as possible, then we have nothing to worry about. The struggle with this option is that the adversity will catch up to us and compound the issue at hand.
- Embrace Adversity – When we choose to embrace adversity, we accept it with the understanding that when we get to the ‘other side’ we will have allowed ourselves to learn, grow and develop. Because adversity will never be absent from our lives, our ability to embrace it will make each subsequent challenging event, easier to manage and work through.
To embrace something means ‘to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly’. Adversity isn’t something to fear for what it may cause, but rather something to embrace for the opportunities it can present.
It’s All about Perspective
Perspective is everything. And, unless you are the one staring adversity in the face, then it’s not fair to assume that you understand exactly how difficult it is for someone else in a given situation. At best, you can empathize.
For example, it’s possible that you are climbing the same mountain as someone else, however your view of the mountain is that it is 10,000 feet tall, and to the other it’s only 9,000 feet to the peak. Why the difference? Perspective.
Imagine this scenario:
Two patients, ‘A’ and ‘B’, go to the doctor because they have been having symptoms that are indicative of a common cold – runny nose, congestion, headaches, and a slight fever. For patient ‘A’ this is no big deal – a prescription for an antibiotic and in a few days this person is feeling better. Patient ‘B’, on the other hand, an antibiotic just won’t work. Why?
- Patient ‘A’ is considered to be a generally healthy person, no disorders or conditions that would indicate that a common cold is going to be a severe and complicated issue.
- Patient ‘B’ is not considered to be a generally healthy person, suffering from an auto-immune disease that weakens the body’s white blood cells and the body’s ability to fight off and attack the symptoms. If not caught early and treated carefully, then Patient ‘B’ risks serious complications that could lead to death.
The point that I am trying to make with this example is that adversity will always be specific to the individual person. However, with the ability to embrace adversity, the mountain to climb for patient ‘B’ can seem less daunting. That’s what I’m after, and ultimately, wanting to share with each of you – how to embrace and view the mountains we must climb as opportunities instead of obstacles.
If it wasn’t for my readers, I might not be writing today. It’s been through your support, encouragement, and words that I have found a passion in putting words on paper. Upon reflection, in the back of my mind I always thought about how awesome it would be to have a large following and community of readers. However, at the front of my mind, writing one article a week always seemed to take precedence.
For the last several weeks, I’ve put a lot of thought into the direction I want to take with this website. My passion for writing has grown exponentially over the last three years, and I want to continue to deliver material that resonates with my readers. I have three initiatives that I plan to use as the foundation for this blog moving forward.
- Content – When I reviewed most of the content that I have written in the past year, I did not feel as though I had produced the best material that I could. In many cases, I feel that the content really missed the mark. In my mind, it was at best, average material that was missing some pivotal information and take-aways for my readers. I have made a personal commitment to improve my writing and the content that I am sharing, by providing more tangible and realistic action items that each reader can take with them following an article. I want to make sure that this community of readers walks away with a strategy for implementing something new, as opposed to walking away saying, “I wasn’t challenged by that article.” Through more engagement and interaction, my readers will be more active in my writing than ever before.
- Growth – As I stated before, growing this community wasn’t always at the forefront of my mind. Now, that’s changed. Through this blog, I want to increase the number of people in this community. My intention isn’t to have a large following for the sole reason of being able to say that I have ‘X’ number of people subscribing to my articles. One thing that I’ve found through my writing is that growth allows us to learn, and it is through our own learning that we can begin to help and serve others. At the end of the day, that’s my mission – to create a space where people can learn something (strategies, tactics, techniques, etc.) to confidently walk through this life knowing that they can champion any mountain that they face. I have a few concepts that I will implement in the weeks to come at which point in time I will unveil more of how I envision this happening, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with all of you.
- Personal Testimonies – In the past, the large majority of my content has been created as a result of my own life experiences. Whether it was training for an endurance event, dealing with hardship, or building relationships, my own personal adventures drove the writing on paper. For those of you who have been on this journey with me over the past couple of years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for finding value in what I have shared. However, I do not feel that I have provided enough diversity. I have not provided enough input and thought ideation that comes from somewhere other than my own thoughts. The perspective of others is important, and I will be sharing more personal testimonies of others as I see the value in exposure to alternative methods.
Getting to this point has not always been an easy path to navigate. I continue to learn and to challenge myself. There isn’t a perfect formula or panacea that makes our life stress or worry free. Although, what we do know is that we have a choice in deciding how we approach life given the circumstances that are present.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” –Haruki Murakami
I’m excited for the journey ahead, and together, we will make life’s challenges, our greatest opportunities.
- This posting ended up being much longer than the original content I had prepared. In trying to remember the points of emphasis, I’m sure that I forgot some items, and I will be sure to highlight them should they come to mind.
- There are certain parts of the new website that are still a work in progress (i.e. Testimonials). I appreciate your patience as I put the finishing touches on certain areas.
- The future of this webpage is going to continue to evolve and will include some new features that I have never done before, and some opportunities for interaction and the ability to engage in more specific conversations surrounding the content. More to come!