What if I told you that your life could be great but that the way to greatness required continual adversity? Would you still choose it? I believe that there is something inside each of us that wants to be great. But the road to greatness is wrought with trouble, doubt, and fear. When facing adversity a decision must be made; do we shrink back in fear or do we move forward in confidence and courage?
I was reading through Andy Andrews book, The Seven Decisions, (which is as good as The Traveler’s Gift –the book where he introduces The Seven Decisions) and he addresses the issue of adversity and it’s correlation to greatness. Andy’s message is clear:
You have a decision to make when it comes to dealing with adversity in your life. You can let it cripple you (like it almost did him) or you can learn to embrace it.
Here’s his story and what he discovered that can change so much for you.
Andy is known for enduring a rough road to the successful life he now lives. As with most successful people, it is easy to look at them in their current state and think that they have ‘the good life’ and little to worry about or deal with. But this is never the case.
Especially for Andy.
In his book, Andy tells his gut-wrenching story of losing his mother at the age of 19 to cancer and then, shortly thereafter, his father in a car accident. It spiraled his life out of control and he soon finds himself broke, alone and living under a pier as a homeless, young adult.
He struggles with immense grief and frustration for quite some time until, by a stroke of God’s grace, an old man that Andy did not know approaches him and suggests he reads as many biographies as possible of happy, successful, and influential people who have changed the world. Andy, even in the state of mind he was in, takes on the challenge and the rest is, as they say, history.
As you can guess, Andy discovers many valuable insights that changed the trajectory of his life. One of those discoveries is what I am sharing with you now. The discovery is this:
Adversity is a gift.
What Andy discovered is that every single person who has gone on to the change the world and make it a better place had this one thing in common: They each had to deal with and overcome adversity. But the world-changers made a decision that we often refuse to make. They decided to embrace adversity – not run from it. This decision made all the difference in their ability to make a difference.
Most of us (myself included at times) gravitate towards feeling sorry for ourselves instead. We ask, “Why me!?“, and we run away from the problems that we feel like are plaguing us and ruining our lives.
Andy suggests something different. He believes that what is needed is that we learn to see adversity in a new light. He goes on to explain that adversity is like a toll bridge and not a road block. It costs you something but doesn’t have to keep you from something great. This paradigm shift is the difference between a good life and great life. Here’s what he says,
Adversity prepares you for greatness. Challenges are gifts. Problems present opportunities to learn and grow. In times of adversity, you don’t have a problem to deal with; you have a choice to make. – Andy Andrews
So the choice is yours and the choice is mine. Every single day. You cannot escape adversity. If Andy’s right, then maybe you shouldn’t. In fact, maybe the path to greatness is not to try to escape it at all, but to learn to embrace adversity and crush it instead.