“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” – Michelle Obama

Tough Times Will Come

Things will not always go according to plan. Life is characteristically full of ups and downs. There will be difficult times. In his famous essay Tragic, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sage of Concord writes, “He has seen but half the universe who never has been shown the house of Pain. As the salt sea covers more than two thirds of the surface of the globe, so sorrow encroaches in man on felicity.”

People, businesses, organisations, and nations all go through periods of ups and down. They go through seasons of plenty and scarcity and of prosperity and adversity.

There will be times of economic booms and economic recessions. There will be times of mass hiring and mass layoffs. There will be times of peace just as there will be times of war.

Similarly, difficulties come to individuals in the forms of health challenge, divorce, bereavement, job loss, midlife crisis, relationship breakup, bankruptcy, setback, project failure and many more.

It is Possible to Thrive in Difficult Times

In difficult times things become tough yes, but it is not all doom and gloom. All hope is not lost. In adversity it is possible to thrive – succeed, make progress or make the most of a painful experience. It is possible to succeed when others are failing, to go up when others are going down and to keep going when the going gets tough.

There are always exceptions to the rule, and you can be the exception. There are businesses declaring profit in the same market where others are declaring bankruptcy. There are businesses expanding when others are downsizing. There are organisations growing where others are in decline.

Yes, you can be the exception when the going gets tough. That everyone is going down doesn’t mean you have to go down. You can get a better job when others are losing theirs. You can buy houses when others are foreclosing. You can have a pay rise when others are losing their jobs. You can heal from a wound. You can turn your pain into profit. You can secure advantages from your adversity. Out of your mess can emerge a message. The same obstacles that are meant to stop you can become your stepping-stones into a glorious future. Where you fail at all, you can fail forward.

What it Takes to Thrive When Times Are Tough

You can defy the odds but there are what it takes. You can turn pain into profit, but it doesn’t happen by accident. There are what it takes to keep going when things become tough. Thriving in difficult times won’t happen automatically but by taking certain steps. There are actions you can take to maximise adversities.

First Things First, Don’t Waste Your Pain

You should not waste your problems and pains. Adversity has advantages. Perhaps this was what inspired the wise king to say in Ecclesiastes 7:2a; “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting.”

It is not everything about adversity that is negative. There is profit in pain. Oftentimes pain offers greater value than pleasure. While it is natural to want to gravitate towards pleasure and avoid pain, it is oftentimes more beneficial to embrace pain. Hard as it may sound, you should not always avoid difficulties.

In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, the legendary Steve Jobs said concerning his 1985 ouster from his own company Apple, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again; less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

The greatest benefit adversity brings is the opportunity it offers to learn. You can learn through your suffering. Adversity teaches valuable lessons in ways nothing else can. There are lessons you may never learn until you go through a difficulty. Pain drives the message home deeper. Pain prepares you for bigger pains that come with life’s bigger opportunities. It is pain, not pleasure that prepares you for tough situations. The pain you experienced in the past can inspire and drive you to pursue goals that you would never have pursued or pursue in the way you do.

I have known men and women who grew up in extreme poverty but used that painful experience not only to inspire themselves to become rich but to also take actions to ensure they help as many as they can to escape poverty.

There are others who were inspired by the loss of a loved one in tragic circumstances to set up a new charity, start a business, write a book, or take up speaking engagements to share their experience and other such initiatives.

In essence the people concerned did not allow their pain to be wasted. They brought out a treasure from a tragedy. They turned pain into gain.


For more helpful tips on how you can handle setbacks and adversities, check out Chapter 17 of my latest book Accelerate on www.ayoadebamowo.com/shop

Written by : Ayo Adebamowo


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