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Leadership Thought #218 – The Struggle Is Part Of The Journey

September 23, 2011

Free Frustrated man in casual wear holding face between hands while leaning on carton box and looking away with sadness after long tiring relocation day Stock Photo

No one has a life devoid of struggle.

I often feel sorry for people who achieve success too easily.  If you don’t have to work for something, you tend not to appreciate it as fully as someone else who had to struggle to get where they are.  We often take those things for granted that come with minimal effort.  Luck may have a place in life, but it shouldn’t be a personal or professional strategy.  Individual character is usually best forged in the fires of adversity and defined by a person’s ability to navigate whatever obstacles are strewn in their path of achieving those things that are meaningful to them.  There is no better feeling than working hard at something, persevering when it gets tough and winning at the end.

We have become a nation that values shortcuts to happiness over all else.  We also love to build people up quickly then break them down when they falter.  Thankfully, we still do appreciate a comeback story. Wouldn’t it be better if we put equal emphasis on individual resilience and personal commitment?   There are very few lives where the curves of success and good fortune are always sloping upward.  Everyone hits dips in their personal and professional lives.  If you are unprepared for when this happens, you simply haven’t been paying attention or are ignoring reality.  You are also missing a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and development.

There is a direct correlation between happiness and meaningfulness in our lives.  If you genuinely care about something (or someone) you will make every effort to achieve a positive outcome (especially when it is a struggle to do so).  The barriers are put in front of us to help us figure out how much we really want/value something.  If it comes too easily, then the test usually appears in the form of having this same thing (or person) taken away from us.  What the Greek philosopher Epictetus said almost two thousand years ago still rings true today, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  Success and failure are flip sides of the same coin.  You really can’t have one without appreciating the other.

Embrace the struggles when they appear.  Turn them into learning and character-building opportunities.