“Adversity Introduces a man to himself” ~ Albert Einstein
A couple years back I wrote a post about struggles faced in the pursuit of worthwhile goals.
I concluded the post by listing 18 “Hard Things” everyone needs to be prepared to tackle in order to be successful; little did I realize that I was (a) talking about “leaning into adversity”, or that (b) I was about to get a real life lesson in this topic.
You see at the time, I was struggling myself with a couple of major things, one being Tristan’s transformation from high school student to “young adult”. I say “struggle” because it was impossible for me to tell my son to “go get a job” or to spend the day “hanging out with friends” like other parents told their graduating 17 year-olds, since T needs around the clock care.
With no school to attend, being with him became a 24 hour job – something that after a few days becomes both physically and mentally taxing – not to mention tough to manage while working 40+ hours per week at the same time.
Which brings me to the other key struggle I had at the time – My job. When I first began working for this company they were awesome; but as time went on their professionalism and integrity wained, and after a few years the culture became one I was very uncomfortable with.
But like most folks, I also needed a steady paycheque to support my family, and so I usually bit my tongue, nodded “yes” despite disagreeing with things said, and generally “sucked it up” the best I could – until something unbelievable happened…
In a calculated twist of fate, one of our peers (and more notably, a personal friend of management) went from being “one of us” to becoming our new boss. And to be clear, this person was not an inspired leader or outstanding performer, which made this move feel all the more like an Orwellian tactic to keep an eye on the rest of the minions.
It didn’t take long for me to feel the “heat”, especially those times I’d question things that didn’t make sense to me. One time I was reprimanded for not working hard enough to convince a customer to buy our brand of ketchup, and was falsely accused of not explaining the “value” proposition of our brand with them – something I’d done twice in person, but who cares? My objections fell on deaf ears.
The reason the sale wasn’t made was pretty cut and dried: The customer was fiercely loyal to the product they’d used for years; and besides, they didn’t like our product – End of story. Or was it?
Apparently not: This reasoning didn’t bode well up the ladder, and therefore the heat continued sliding down it, mostly via poor performance accusations being measured against me. The writing was clearly on the wall!
And so after seven years without a single blemish on my record, it was clear I was no longer welcome. At a “special” meeting I handed in my resignation, giving a full months notice.
Leaving the hotel that day I remember two things: The warmth of the sun beaming down on my face, and the huge sigh of relief knowing I’d just gotten a huge
bully monkey off my back once and for all.
But as good as these things felt in the moment, there were some hard truths about adversity I was about to face.
Once the dust settled I began to feel lost and confused by the whole situation – I still didn’t fully understand why they came at me with such venom and fury*. This lead to a feeling of profound of hopelessness and sadness; I mean here I was with no job, no income, and no prospects… and I felt pretty confident there’d be no glowing reference coming from the company I was loyal to for seven years!
With all these feelings, doubt began to set in. I began wondering:
- Did I do all I could to sell ketchup to the account? (Yes, I absolutely had)
- Could I have done more to make things better between my employer and me? (No)
- Should I have just kept my mouth shut and eaten more shit? (Nope – I was full already)
WHY I’M REVISITING THESE 18 HARD THINGS:
At first it was hard – REALLY Hard. I was demoralized, since without an income I wasn’t contributing to the family. Without a job, I lacked an identity I’d had for so long. Without somewhere to go each day made me feel worthless, insecure, and at times ashamed that I’d done something so “selfish” as quit.
Soon my shame turned into frustration and anger; anger at how I’d been treated. Not knowing what to do, I decided to lean hard into my adversity by channeling my thoughts, feelings and frustrations into writing, something that ostensibly was more about anger-management and therapy than it was about writing blog content. And the more I wrote, the more I purged not just about this, but about everything. And man oh man, did I ever write a lot!
Then something happened: After writing (and deleting) a lot of material, a small crack formed in my hard shell of bitterness which finally let the sun in; and for the first time in months I could see beyond the anger, fear, hate and shit I’d been dealing with for so long.
Finally, I could begin to see the lessons that were to come from it all; and the more I wrote, the clearer things became.
Next I began reading inspirational books and blogs to gain wisdom and advice for the road ahead; and then began reaching out and connecting with the very interesting people who wrote the books and blogs that inspired me.
I started attending live events, even volunteering my time at one, making sure to connect with as many people as I could, and offering to help out wherever I could.
I applied for, and spoke at a TEDx event in Vancouver, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
I attended The World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregan where I got to speak to 3,000 people! And while there, I met EVEN MORE cool people!
Not long after I began traveling around the country to speak to families on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
Oh, and as my writing skills improved, the audience listening to what I had to say grew and grew… (Thank you!)
All in all, it seems that I’d successfully leaned into – and then through – adversity! So, what does all this have to do with a post I wrote two years ago?
Simple! Looking back now I realize that by LEANING INTO ADVERSITY I was able to find success – REAL SUCCESS – away from a job I hated. And even though I didn’t call it this at the time, the list I included in my post two years ago is all about finding success BY leaning into adversity.
Now to be clear, I still struggle with some things, especially the major turn that my life took recently. I won’t lie, this one is hard, hard, hard for me to deal with; but I also know now that by leaning into my adversity I can’t help but move towards success and happiness at some point; that’s the plan at least.
It sure beats sitting still and wallowing in misery and self-pity.
So now I see how wisdom from post I wrote two years ago has helped me weather one of the biggest personal storms of my life. I hope you can also find some value and wisdom from it as well. And with that said…
“18 Hard Things We All Need To Do To Be Successful”
- We have to do those hard things that no-one else wants to do
- We have to make the calls we’re afraid to make
- We have to get up very early, and be disciplined throughout the day to stay on task
- We have to give more to others than we’ll ever get back, and not keep score along the way
- We have to care more about others than they’ll ever care about us
- We have to fight when we’re are injured, bloody, and sore, and never take our eye off the prize
- We have to stare insecurity and uncertainty in the face, and soldier on anyway
- We have to always be leaders – even when no one else is following
- We have to invest in ourselves, especially when no one else is
- We have to look for the answers we don’t have, and be prepared to feel foolish in our quest
- We have to give 100% in every single thing we do – and that means everything
- We have to deliver results, even when making excuses is an acceptable option
- We have to be prepared to make mistakes, and look (and feel) foolish at times
- We have to get up the on eleventh time after falling ten times prior
- We have to be kind to people who have been unkind to us – no matter how hard it is
- We have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable, and deliver unparalleled results
- We have to be accountable for our actions – even when things go wrong
- The bottom line is that in order to succeed at our goals, we must always, always do whatever it is we need we to do, and always, always think like an ant
If you are interested in the original post, it can be found HERE.
*I know now why – it was a personal issue