Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity. - Lou Holtz
In May of 2001, Erik Weihenmeyer accomplished something that only about 150 people per year do — reach the top of Mt. Everest. The thing that made Erik’s achievement unusual is that he is the first blind person to succeed at scaling the tallest mountain in the
world. Erik was born with a disease called retinoschisis, and by the time he was 13, he was completely blind. Rather than focus on what he could not do, he made the choice to focus on what he could do and went much further than almost anyone expected.
It’s been said that adversity introduces a man to himself. And while most don’t go looking for adversity, life happens. And whether we like it or not, we all face our share of adversity.
Without question, 2020 thus far has been like no other year any of us have ever lived through. Perhaps some of you are like me, you keep thinking it’s just one bad dream we will wake up from and it will all be over with. Can you relate?
As a leader, you will face your share of adversity if you hang around long enough. Some of it will come in ways and from places you didn’t see coming, some of it will come from the least likely person you know, and at times it will be self-inflicted. Regardless of the source, how you deal with it as a leader will make all the difference.
When adversity comes, here are a few simple reminders to hold onto.
Adversity doesn’t discriminate
As a leader, don’t take adversity personally. Adversity comes to all of us. But know this — the size of your dream often will determine the level of adversity. The greater the dream and the loftier your goals, the more challenges you will face. So when your adversity comes, keep climbing!
Adversity doesn’t define you
Having adversity does not define you as a leader, but how you respond to it will. You can’t always choose the battles you will face, but you choose how you will fight them. Adversity does not have to define you in a negative way, but how you deal with it will reflect on your leadership. The best thing to do when facing it is to keep
Adversity is a great teacher
If you allow it, adversity can be your teacher on your leadership journey. Every trial, setback, or failure will introduce you to yourself. If you are smart, you will learn your lessons and apply them to the next challenge. You may not like the process, but what we gain from those experiences can be valuable. So when adversity comes consider class in session and don’t give up. Keep climbing!
One thing I’ve learned over the years is how adversities change. The personal struggles and adversities I overcame 30 years ago, by and large, are not the ones I battle with today. As you grow as a leader, the adversities you deal with will reflect that season in your life.
As you grow and mature as a leader, your adversities will change with you. What you once considered a great challenge or adversity ten years ago, will look much different today as will how you deal with it.
The takeaway from this leadership lesson is to never stop climbing. You will come through this season of adversity if you never give up.
©2020 Doug Dickerson.