In times of change and adversity, we are all challenged to make choices and to make decisions. You may not be responsible for the circumstances or changes, like the breakdown of our financial system, but you are responsible for the decisions you make within those circumstances.
During his inaugural speech in January of 1961 John Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country," These words not only challenged a generation, it also ignited a spirit of shared interest and selflessness that made us feel like we could belong to something bigger than ourselves.
Today’s obstacles and challenges are our calls to action. You can either accept that calling and take full responsibility for your actions, or you can choose to ignore it.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, once said that every adversity, every failure, and every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.
I want you to think about a time in your life, or a meaningful moment when you faced adversity or a personal challenge. Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship, conflict with a coworker, struggling with a career decision….
Whatever the situation is that you are thinking about right now, I suspect it was a moment when you learned something significant about yourself – yet the lesson didn't come until later. If the situation was significant enough for you to recall just now, then you likely came through the ordeal knowing more about who you are and what you are really capable of. That's the beauty of adversity that so many people fail to embrace.
Think again about that meaningful moment, "What were some of the emotions and feelings you experienced leading up to it? Perhaps you felt discomfort, anxiety, doubt, inner turmoil, panic, fear, despair or confusion… Not the kind of emotions we associate with positively.
So the question is, "What is it that makes these moments so valuable and important, so powerful that we should actually want to attract these kinds of experiences in our lives?"
The answer lies in what happens after these 'growth' or change experiences. Looking back, what were some of the emotions and feelings you experienced afterwards? Perhaps you felt more powerful and confident? Maybe you developed some new insights, built a higher self-esteem, a greater team spirit, more self-confidence or more serenity?
Aren't these the experiences that make life worth living? Aren't these the moments of truth that define us as people, as a community, as an organization? You better believe it.
The challenges are opportunities for you to break out of your cocoon and let go of the limiting beliefs and fears that are blocking you. Just as a caterpillar must escape its cocoon to grow and become the butterfly it was meant to be, so too you must look for opportunity in those experiences that challenge you to break free from past habits, thoughts, reactions, and ideas. One cannot become a butterfly by remaining a caterpillar! And once you experience life as a butterfly, you will never want to go back to being a caterpillar.
My experiences working as a professional life coach with many people going through intense periods of change, tell me that we should welcome challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow.
I'm convinced that it is through times of change and adversity that we have an opportunity to reconnect with our true selves, that we find meaning and direction in what we do, and then use our new found knowledge to serve the greater good.
Think about the stagnation you'd encounter if everything were to stay the same, your company, your job, the people you work with, the environment – you would certainly have certainty and you would certainly know what to expect, but you would almost certainly be bored, unproductive, and uncreative.
The price of certainty seems much too high to pay. Change, on the other hand, can exhilarate you, it can motivate you, it can inspire you – and yes, it can scare you, but you don't have to let it defeat you.
Change is inevitable but to grow from it is a personal choice!
You can choose to withdraw or reconnect. If you choose to reconnect, you are choosing to create something that can be better and more successful than ever before.
The choice is yours alone to make!