Do you learn more from your trials and adversity or from your blessings and successes?
Think this is a redundant, stupid or foolish question? Then why not go back to your daily “to do” list. If not – read on you might see a few things differently as a result.
First of all, let me state the obvious – everyone in life faces adversity, trials, hardships etc. of some kind in life sooner or later. No one is privileged to escape pain while they live their life journey - whether financial, relationship, career, business or health.
Before I move on let me state one more common obvious fact – no one handles, reacts, manages or deals with life’s issues the same as everyone else. Some use them to whine and complain – others use them to grow, improve or mature. While others sit there in a coma wondering – what should I (can I) do?
Before we move on however, I’m sure you know which camp you are in the whining one hopefully this article will be of value to you. If you are in the growing camp I’m sure you know someone who is in the whining group, so why not read it and then forward it to them – you never know - it might just be what they need today.
OK, back to my message.
Success can teach us many things – what works, what feels good, what is of value in our life or the life of others, that we are on the right path and doing the right things etc. But, here’s the problem with successes lessons – they tend to prevent us from looking at what isn’t working or wrong or how what we are doing could be working even better. Consistent success tends to keep people stuck – yes, they have had many success benefits but imagine for a moment if they could achieve even better success if they would learn to see past their success to what could be?
Everyone has achieved some degree of success in some areas of their life whether raising great kids or creating a wonderful backyard garden or building a successful business from scratch. These are all worthy accomplishments but again I ask you – if you could have accomplished even more (a better garden, better kids, better business etc.) would you have settled for what you achieved knowing you could have done more that was within your skills or power?
Success is not just about achievement or winning but serving, giving back, learning and the journey. Today’s successes can be tomorrow’s failures. No success is guaranteed to last for a lifetime or even years. Success like life is a process but if success keeps you from learning then you are missing what real success is – going past your own definition of your potential and seeing life from a broader perspective. I’m not saying we can ever see our life or our future from God’s perspective but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try and see it from a wiser or better human perspective one and not limited by conventional wisdom, previous successes, other’s judgements or our own limited belief system.
In the final analysis what can success teach us?
A few of the obvious ones are – gratitude, caution, patience, faith and the value of persistence. Yes, there are many others but in the end without these we will tend not to learn what life offers.
What can adversity, problems, hardship or failure teach us? I could go on for pages with this section but, I’m sure you have better things to do than read my diatribes so let me keep it brief.
First of all, a few important concepts to consider:
-Anyone who has ever achieved and worthwhile success has faced trials, failure, adversity etc.
-Failure is necessary for great and sustained success.
-Failure, adversity etc. is not what is happening to us but how we respond, react, deal with it, learn from it or use it for something good.
-Adversity and problems etc. are in our life to teach us – not about them or it but us.
So, what can we learn from these negative situations?
Think of adversity, problems challenges etc. as a classroom environment and they are the teacher. If you want to pass the course you’ll need to pay attention, do your homework and figure out where the important learning is in all of the chaos and uncertainty. Learning Geometry is not easy if you are not good with numbers. Learning to manage problems is not easy if you have never had any or have never managed them successfully in the past.
Failure, adversity, hardship etc. use pain, disappointment, rejection, ambiguity, distress, abandonment, uncertainty, discomfort, isolation and many other circumstances to get our attention and the courage to take action.
I’m not in any way suggesting that we should seek out failure, adversity etc. but I’m also not suggesting that we hide our heads in the sand or go into denial simply because we don’t like what we are experiencing.
Trust me – if you don’t learn a lesson life wants you to learn sooner or later you’ll get another chance to learn the same lesson.