“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford.
To me that is a powerful motivational statement that I always keep in mind as I continue my journey through life and as a I continue to work as hard as I know how to overcome challenges, especially those that are potentially life-altering.
It’s inevitable that major obstacles will arise to block your passage to the stars. Sometimes they’re self-inflicted; sometimes they’re the result of actions by others with ulterior motives. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.
Regardless of the cause you have to learn from the experience. You have to draw from it so you can progress to the next phase of your journey. The bigger the adversity you have endured, the bigger the lesson and the bigger the opportunity for personal and professional growth.
You definitely learn more when the tide is against you than you do when the tide is running for you.
Nobody, of course, has the right to expect a perfect life. And if somehow you have had a perfect charmed life until now you’ll find it even harder to tackle challenges when they are thrown in your path.
When adversity does come your way the true measure of a person is how he or she ultimately deals with it. Can it make you desire with all of your heart to become more understanding of others and more compassionate? Can it make you more resilient and more determined to achieve even greater success? Can it make you a respectful and respected leader?
When personal or business adversity threatens your life just think of the grit and resilience shown by those who have had had to face serious physical challenges and emerged victorious. I take heart, for instance, from the story of award-winning athlete Jason Lester.
When he was just 12 years old Jason was struck down by a speeding car. He suffered 20 broken bones and a permanently paralyzed right arm. Shortly afterwards his father died. But Jason didn’t quit. He continued to pursue the love of sports that had been encouraged by his father.
And he went beyond the norm. In 2008 he became the first disabled athlete to complete the Ultraman. That’s 320 miles of biking, swimming, and running—something that the vast majority of able-bodied people are not able to do. He went on to win an ESPY Award in 2009 for “Best Disabled Male Athlete.”
Overcoming his adversity turned him into a star.
To reiterate: the truth of the matter is that the more successful you become the more adversity you are likely to encounter. No matter how much you mature and develop you will have to deal with stumbling blocks—just of different kinds and different magnitudes. They can be earth-shattering and emotionally draining. But that’s life. And you must learn from them to become a better and more successful person.
When you make up your mind to overcome challenges that seem insurmountable you can lift off like a plane and soar to 30,000 feet and beyond—if you decide that that’s what you want to do.
When confronted with a sudden loss or significant reversal of fortune do not panic. Reflect on what has happened. What did you do wrong? What should you have done differently? Avoid tunnel vision. Develop other options.
Don’t stop. Don’t give way to doubt and fear. Move forward. Find the strength within yourself to pick yourself up and arch forward. When you commit to doing the right things eventually you will be blessed. That’s karma.
Many people never seek to climb a mountain in the first place; they’re afraid to fall. They can’t imagine scaling new heights. But do you really want to live your entire life on the ground? When you are able to overcome adversity the sky is the limit; you have one of the pillars of strength to become successful—again and again.
As the old Japanese proverb says, “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”
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