Today I want to discuss the benefits of adversity with you.
HUH? Adversity and benefits — since when do those two words co-exist?
Hear me out…when I use the word adversity I mean it defined as: an overwhelming challenge – a seemingly insurmountable obstacle – a wall so thick that you have no idea how you’re going to get through it, over it, under it or around it.
For most, adversity is not a welcome word, and why should it be? After all we’re human, and humans are wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure – and adversity is directly associated with pain. So it’s no wonder when folks hear about adversity their first instinct is to avoid it.
It’s a totally natural and completely understandable reaction, but here’s the rub. There’s a silver lining to adversity that is critical to know. It’s the confidence you gain from overcoming it that can’t be earned any other way. This confidence is the cornerstone of your attitude, it’s the engine of your persistence and it stokes your ability to dream bigger dreams which in turn (and paradoxically) puts you on a path to encounter greater adversity.
In the world of SEAL Team training, candidates are tested daily with all types of physical and mental adversity, such as running a four-mile timed run only to find out (at the finish line) that it’s actually a 10-mile run. Perhaps the most well-known military training adversity is SEAL training’s Hellweek, where three shifts of SEAL instructors dish out around-the-clock mental and physical punishment while depriving you of all but three hours of sleep (total!) over five days. It should come as no surprise that a huge number of candidates quit during Hellweek.
Six weeks before I started Hellweek I was getting to know my classmates. One classmate boasted about how he was going to “smoke” Hellweek because for the last two years he had been taking cold showers (I’m not kidding) and Hellweek is about being cold, therefore he was more than ready for Hellweek.
How did he do?
This classmate didn’t even make it to Hellweek — he quit three weeks into training.
You are only as strong (mentally and physically) as the adversity you have overcome. Struggle builds strength.
There’s No Substitute for Real-World Experience
You can’t learn the confidence adversity teaches you in a classroom or from a book. You can’t fake it, you learn it from experience. There’s no short cut – period.
I learned this lesson again when my business partner and I started Perfect Fitness. We raised $1.5 million to create an infomercial to introduce a brand called BODYREV to the market.
Two and a half years later, we were down to our last $25,000. We had learned $1,475,000 worth of ways not to launch a product. The time had come to accept that we couldn’t get the BODYREV product to work on TV no matter how many different messages we tried. Some of my investors even told me it was time to stop embarrassing myself and go get a job.
I knew I had overcome adversity before and I was determined to find a way out of this. Armed with what we had learned from two years worth of failures, we decided to create an entirely different product, based on one I had invented when I was a platoon commander. That’s how the Perfect Pushup was born.
Within two years we went from $500,000 in sales to over $60 million. But soon we ran into another obstacle – with the economic downturn of 2008-2009, we lost our line of credit from the bank.
We had to improvise again to manage our cash flow to ensure we could keep serving customers and growing the business. Without our previous experience overcoming some major business difficulties, we might have given up at this point. But we never gave up and used what we had learned in the past to find success again.
So what does this all mean to you? Simply this: adversity and the struggles and hardships that come with it make you stronger – they will empower you to get what you want out of life.
If it were easy, everyone would do it, but you’re not just anyone! You’re on a mission to achieve your goals and maximize your life.
So the next time adversity comes knocking, welcome it and then knock it back with a vengeance! Hit it with persistent action so overwhelming that any future obstacles that come down your path are no longer considered obstacles, but opportunities to excel. This, my teammates, is the advantage of adversity.
Go challenge yourself!
This article was original posted to LinkedIn Pulse