The Power of Struggle

Be honest. Are you waking up this morning and dragging yourself into your workplace? Deep down you know you are intended for so much more than what you are presently doing.  Or perhaps, you don’t have a job and you are faced with another daunting day filled with trying to find a job – any job – and deep down you wish you could be so lucky as to be in a job you don’t like. Or maybe, you just found out yesterday that you have a critical illness and literally you are starting the fight of your life.

Struggle. It’s the one thing we are all guaranteed to experience in life, and the one thing most people try to avoid.  Have you ever actually read the definition of struggle?  It means “to progress with difficulty”.

The interesting thing about struggling is that there is little else in this world that can produce such positive effects in your life – if you allow it to do its work.  There’s this great song by Mary Mary and in it the lyrics say:

“Can’t be mad at the things you been through cuz they built your muscle
Now you’re stronger than you ever been they can’t stop your hustle”

Take a moment to reflect on that.  Do you remember when you were a teenager and certain life events felt like “the end of the world” – and now you look back and laugh because you’re now an adult and have had to face so much more? We begin learning this lesson from the time we are children over, and over, and over. Yet, when difficulty comes our way we still ask “Why me?”

Well, here’s the good news. You’re not special.  lol.  The universe is not conspiring against you to bring only “you” a struggle.  Life is struggle for anyone who has breath in their lungs.  You can take that to the bank.  The question is not “if” life will bring you a struggle but “when” or more accurately “how often”.

Each and every time you are provided an opportunity to grow.

Whether it is learning how to interact with the difficult people in your life in a way that brings respect to the situation, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, or learning a new skill to change your future – each and every opportunity to transform has struggle at its root.

What this means is that whatever difficult moment you are facing today, is an opportunity for you to become strong.    As you walk into a job you hate, a conversation you dread, a gym that intimidates, or a terrifying doctor’s appointment – determine to look for the lessons in what you are facing. Look back and see how it is building your muscle in that area.

Over the years I began referring to my various life challenges as my “training ground”. Whenever I was faced with a fight of some kind I would take a deep breath and say to myself, “Well, how else am I going to learn?” Then I’d make the decision to view the situation as a challenge to overcome. I’d determine who my coach would be to help get me through – a trusted friend or mentor – because it’s important to have someone in your corner who has more experience than you and can guide you. (By the way, this applies whether you are 8 or 80. There is always someone with more experience.)  In the midst of the fight, when it got really difficult they’d pull me aside, give me a pep talk, point out my strengths, show me where I was making any mistakes, make me take a drink of water, pat me on the shoulder and say “Now get back in there.”

The result? I can handle things today that I never could have just a few years ago. I look back on situations that were difficult at the time like an adult looking back on their childhood – and I’m grateful – because I’ve learned a great deal. The ladies of Mary Mary put it this way:

“It’s alright to crawl before you walk it’s alright to walk before you run
But if you wanna get what you never got gotta do something that you never done”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Born to be Great!

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by Karolyn Hart

Deep within the heart of leaders is the desire to accomplish something great with their lives.  To truly stand out and be counted among those who have left an impact.  Too often people dream of greatness but fail to understand what sort of misery they are wishing upon themselves.

A quick study of some of my own modern day heroes reveals that more often their not their greatness was born out of extreme circumstances and misery.  Consider Nelson Mandela’s 27 years spent in prison as a prime example.  When we go to the movies and watch the story play out on the big screen we are caught up in the romance of the adventure and leave inspired.  Yet, have you ever thought about putting yourself in the person’s shoes? It’s easy to enjoy the adventure when you know how the story ends. But what if you are in your own personal version of a prison? Chances are you don’t know the end of the story and getting up every morning can seem a daunting task.

What you may not realize is that your greatness is being thrust upon you in those moments.  Greatness is not an overnight thing that can be whittled down into a 90 minute movie.  It is a lifelong journey. Doing truly great things is often a commitment to endurance, perseverance, and down right tenacity.

It means continuing when you would rather throw in the towel. It means not taking shortcuts when you are pressed for time. It means standing strong when you are the lone voice in a desert.  It means humbling yourself to learn from those who have more experience than you. It means being in a perpetual state of learning and understanding that you will “never arrive”.

The fact is that if you are in the middle of the “fight of your life” then you are quite possibly in the perfect arena to head towards greatness.  Where else are you going to get your muscle?

The only difference between those who are great and those who are not is that great people persevere where others quit.  Today, choose to be great and discover how powerful you really are.