Hardships and struggles can really stink. But, they’re necessary. Even constant, steady struggle can be good. Whether we want to fully embrace it or not, hardships are something we can life hack all we want. They will still come for you. I’ve found the only times I’ve reached my fullest potential has been at the other end of some of my biggest struggles or hardships I’ve went through.
Resilience is key to the work of overcoming your biggest milestones. Finding a way to escape or get away from pain, fear, and our doubts will not teach you what you need. It doesn’t feel good to deal with it either. But, it can help us learn something about ourselves.
Many times we focus on the bounce back. That’s not the goal I want to share with you. It’s to move through your hardships and pain. To use your misery to your advantage and in so doing overcome insurmountable adversities.
Here’s an example. Did you ever wonder why the story of Don Quixote even came to be? We know it’s a story about some guy who tried to spear a windmill because he believed it to be a dragon and became the laughing stock of most of the town around him. The author Cervantes however, imprisoned in 1602, created it to pass time in his cell and overcome hardship of being in a prison life. The story about an old man who believed he was a knight was a way to coupe with the struggle Cervantes was dealing with daily. The story Cervantes created that sprung from his own courage and resilience while he was imprisoned . A novel, which to this day is still one of the hallmarks of great modern literature.
We’ve heard that anything worth struggling for is worth fighting for. Of course its way easier to want those things than to put in the work to get them. I find that the more challenges I can put myself in front of, the more I crave them. A challenge gives you purpose. That’s where flow kicks in. Flow is the moment where the pain feels stronger than you and you won’t make it through it, but then all of a sudden just clicks into a rhythm or pace that becomes bearable. If everything in our lives were just given to us, our minds would completely deteriorate. Just like your body crashes when you don’t get the nourishment it needs, our minds need the nourishment of a struggle to survive. Choose a meaningful enough challenge and you will find you can flourish.
Every time you and I battle our fears we become more courageous. When we get more courageous we begin to take more risks and try new things or new angles of attack on our goals. We begin to innovate where we never thought we would or would have tried. When we repeat this over and over again, we’re creating a habit in resiliency. Train harder to build stronger resilience. This repetition allows us to form positive long lasting habits that will help it overcome any challenge that can come after.
Seek out the pain. Look for it. We don’t normally tackle pain and fear that way. Fight or flight is our usual strategy, with flight being a default choice to take. It becomes easier to bear however when we seek the struggle out over letting it find us. I’m reminded of an employee who shared the buffalo and the cow analogy to me in regards to this very idea of confronting our conflicts and struggles versus running away or avoiding them altogether.
In the Great Plains where most of the buffalo and cows are raised studies into their behaviors unlocked a curious trait in these two different species. When a storm popped up, cows run away from the storm. Very slowly. Eventually that storm caught up with them and they still continue to run away from it prolonging their pain and the suffering caused by the storm. Buffalo on the other hand charge directly at the storm. They’ve figured out, if they can just run through it, sun is on the opposite side of the storm they are running towards. Short term pain, for long term gain in happiness and moving past the storm. We need to approach our struggles and “storms” in the same manner. We need to be like the buffalo when these “storms” emerge in our journeys.
High achievers have figured out that failure is a reality and you have to live with it as well as learn from it when it happens. In fact, those that fail more often tend to always achieve greater things because they’ve learned from those failures. Everyone knows about Edison and his failures to create the light bulb. When asked about his 1,000+ failed attempts at making the light bulb he stated:
I didn’t fail 1,000 times, I learned that it takes a 1,000 steps to create a light bulb.
Don’t fail passively. Try to always see yourself as a beginner blazing a new trail never taken before. Defeat is only temporary, so embrace it! You can find or build willpower (resilience), strength, and motivation from it. I would even say if you’re not failing a lot, you’re not trying hard enough.
You’re going to get better when things get harder. You’ll get bored in a passive approach to your work/life. One way I find I can keep myself sharp with this is through exercise. Finding a truly hard regime in my running behaviors and building endurance has been some of the best lessons I could have ever picked to teach myself or take myself through. People think I am crazy for doing it to myself, but I’ve learned from its benefits. It’s therapy and it awakens the challenge in me the further I run and the faster I try to do it.
Keep those internal struggles close and learn from them this weekend. Thanks as always for viewing the post. Appreciate you.