There is no great achievement without over coming great challenges. It sucks, but we need problems, difficulty, we need adversity.
What is adversity?
Adversity is Life. Adversity is nature. From the moment you are born, the universe is trying to tear you apart. This is adversity.
Adversity is overwhelming. Adversity is that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Adversity is self-doubt and self-pity. Adversity is immense pressure. Adversity is being stuck.
Adversity is losing a loved one, losing your health, your job, your freedom.
Or breaking a long established pattern of comfort.
Adversity is the gauntlet. It is the hot fire that is trying to steal your life. Adversity is inevitable.
Adversity is whatever you allow it to be. You can allow Adversity to overwhelm you and you can surrender.
Or you can get to work.
You can start taking small steps that will allow you to endure. The longer you can endure, the more small steps you can take, the better you can deal with adversity. The more you deal with adversity, the better your chances are of overcoming adversity.
Why Adversity is needed.
Adversity is what weeds out the weak.
Adversity causes you to examine your life in an honest manner. Adversity is the spotlight that enables you to see your weaknesses.
Once you know and understand your weaknesses you can begin to change.
Adversity is what forces change. Whatever parts of you that cannot make the change, your weaknesses, will be cut away. The you that endures the Adversity will be a stronger version than before.
Redwood forests need fire to open the pine cones to allow the seeds to spread. The fire also burns away any competing plants and enriches the soil.
Wolves and other wildlife thrive in the radioactive zone around Chernobyl.
The marine life surrounding Bikini Atoll (a small island the US vaporized testing a hydrogen bomb in the 1950’s) is again a thriving ecosystem.
The Everglades is a giant river of grass that needs hurricanes to balance the ecosystem and replenish the land with water.
The variability that visits these ecosystems is the Adversity these systems need to force change and adaptability. These systems would not be able to grow stronger without the
occasional stress tests of Adversity.
Adversity makes you stronger.
Adversity is the mountain you must climb, or the puzzle you must solve, or both, to achieve your goal.
You cannot have success without adversity. You cannot grow as a person without adversity. Think about it.
You can’t experience the gratitude of summiting a big mountain if big mountains weren’t really hard to climb. Sailing across the globe in a wooden ship in the 1700’s is an impressive feat only because the oceans are wild and unforgiving environments. Learning to walk again after a devastating injury is impressive because it takes a massive amount of work and effort.
The beautiful thing about Adversity is that it pushes you to try new things. If you are forced to change and adapt you will have to learn something new that you never thought you were capable of doing. You will have to dig deep. Once Adversity forces you to learn, your newly acquired skills can take you to places you never imagined.
Adversity is experience.
If these things were easy no one would care. You wouldn’t care that you climbed a mountain, sailed the ocean in a wooden ship, or overcame devastating injuries if these things were as easy as going to the grocery store.
No one remembers a trip to the grocery store. They’re easy and forgettable.
I remember every mountain I’ve climbed and every difficulty I’ve overcome. You need Adversity. Adversity burns memories into your brain.
There is no growth without adversity.
Adversity sucks. There is no fun when dealing with Adversity. And just because you are dealing with Adversity does not mean that you will reach your goal. In fact Adversity defeats most people. That is why it is so memorable and special when Adversity is faced, and overcome.
So how should we think about Adversity?
Maybe we should embrace it. Maybe, if we embrace Adversity, it will help us to survive it.
If Adversity is inevitable (it is), and Adversity is needed to reach success or a goal or to grow into a better human being, then maybe we should think of Adversity as a necessary evil.
I look at my battles with Adversity and try to think how it helped me.
I was raised in the South. I was born in Atlanta, and grew up in Florida and the flat hot middle of North Carolina.
Dreams of skiing the big mountains shown in the pictures of Powder magazine would swirl through my head in the oppressive heat of the humid summer.
I picked up and moved to Lake Tahoe where I didn’t know anyone. I lived in disgusting apartments and had shitty jobs. But I learned to ski in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was bigger and scarier than I ever imagined. The Adversity was intimidating… but it forced me to learn and to grow.
The same thing happened when I moved to Napa Valley to pursue a career in wine. Although this time I was older and wondering what the heck I was doing with my life. I didn’t know anyone. I had no job. At first I lived in some dirty house with a maniac I found through Craigslist. The Adversity was intimidating. I lived and breathed the wine business in Napa Valley. I worked with some great people and learned a lot.
Adversity visited me again when I was crushed by an avalanche. This was the greatest challenge of my life. To deal with that Adversity I needed a massive amount of help. I got the help and eventually recovered. I am better for the experience the Adversity brought. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When you deal with Adversity you learn and gain experience. You can use this knowledge to grow and help you the next time Adversity visits you. And you can take what you’ve learned and use this knowledge to help others that face Adversity.
These changes made under extreme pressure are how diamonds are made out of coal.
This is how Adversity makes you.