Learning from your Challenges

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the weak run away.  While this saying has been modified, I do think it holds true to what I have seen in my 60+ years.  Life places barriers in your path and those who are most successful find ways over, around or through those barriers. I find it interesting to see that many seek to find ways to remove barriers to make the path easier for others.  In some cases this makes sense, especially if those barriers are invisible or entrenched barriers that provide no opportunity for growth.  In contrast, I have found barriers to be tremendous builders of strength and character.  Let me say more about that.

There was a young man who was born in Kentucky who then moved to Illinois where he grew up.  This young man was tall and not overly handsome.  He ran for office many times and suffered nervous breakdowns before he ended up becoming President of the United States.  This man was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of our country.

Another story describes a young woman from Alabama who was born without the ability to hear or see.  She overcame those challenges to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.  Her name was Helen Keller.

My own challenges pale in comparison to those encountered by Lincoln or Keller.  Even though my parents never attended college, they did everything in their power to provide me with great opportunities for learning and encouraged and supported my efforts to attend challenging schools after high school.  When my initial plans didn’t work out they stood behind me and helped me develop an alternate path that has led me to where I am today.  For that I am extremely blessed.

Barriers and challenges in your life are not reasons to stop and admit defeat.  These issues provide you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, especially to develop grit and perseverance.  The book entitled “Grit” gives many great examples of how these types of challenges help make people successful.

Never shy away from a challenge.  At the same time, be sure to understand the issues that presented you with your barrier and then formulate a plan to remove it or get past the challenge.

Pain and suffering that you feel while being challenged only make the journey more memorable.  Learning to ignore and work though this type of pain only makes you stronger and helps develop the grit mentioned earlier.

Look for opportunities to challenge yourself.  Ask for help along the way, but learn to avoid using mistakes when you don’t want to work hard to succeed.

As I said at the beginning, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Don’t be that person who runs away from a challenge.  That only provides regret and the path to sadness is paved with regret.