It was speaker and author Napoleon Hill who said, “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” Well said, and so true.
There have been times in my life where I’ll be darned if I could have seen how Mr. Hill’s words of wisdom rang true. But alas I’m getting ahead of myself.
Whenever I speak to companies and organizations, immediately following my introduction — the one where the person introducing me is gracious enough to recite all my personal and professional successes… I usually start by saying — funny, it never seemed to flow quite like that during the journey.
Then I begin to share my personal story — the real meat and potatoes that led me to where I am at this point in my life. Yep… the adversities, the challenges, and at times… the bone headed mistakes 🙂
I’d like to share with you a glimpse into my past in the hope that you can relate it to whatever challenges and adversities you may be working towards overcoming. I preface with the point that I don’t share my past to give power to it — my adversities are not my reality. Just as yours are not yours.
You may find them to be in the now — true, but you have all the power inside you to change your current reality just as I did, and continue to do in my own life. So my hope is that you will find courage in my story to move forward in pursuit of your own personal greatness.
Josh, the young years…
I was not what you might consider a brilliant student. I could have applied myself more perhaps, but I still had some very real challenges. I was diagnosed with a learning disability in math in grade school, and not to long after that I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick overview. It’s a neurological disorder which can have any number of symptoms that appear in many different forms. TV for some reason sensationalizes it by focusing on the very rare symptom of uncontrollable obscenities (a symptom that I and most people with TS never have to deal with I might add).
In my case, I was and am blessed that I always had a very mild case of TS (Tourette’s). Yet, I still had Tourette’s and at a young age let me tell you — it can be a challenge no matter the severity. I also had very bad handwriting. If you’re wondering my point for mentioning that — I’ll touch on it more below.
Josh the teenage years…
Aside from the obvious challenges I experienced growing up our family lived a fairly fortunate lifestyle. We were blessed with a lot of abundance, in the form of monetary resources. My father was an excellent businessman.
The exact year escapes me, but just prior to entering teenagerdom our family experienced a VERY big lifestyle change. Through a business deal gone bad all that my father (and of course our family) had achieved was gone. We found ourselves in the unfortunate place of having to start over.
Just to make the point of how dire the circumstances were that we found ourselves in — there was a point where we had a car, which was heavily relied on by the way that had no reverse in it. Not to make light of this, but you would absolutely be surprised how near impossible it can be to find a parking place where you don’t have to back out of it.
At around 18 years old, my old buddy TS showed up with an interesting new symptom (i.e. challenge) for me. Allow me to explain. Though I’m really not sure what the official name of the symptom is, nor do I really care, imagine if you will a sensation where you know exactly what to say, but for the life of you, you can’t spit it out.
I refer to it as a blocking tic. And like it or not — this interesting adversity was now there in all its shining glory for me to deal with. Along with I might add anxiety which at times came in the form of, of all things hearing a phone ringing — for fear that upon answering it I’d not be able to say a word and the person would just hang up (which did actually happen at times).
There were other challenges of course, but if I only recounted the adversities I’d be missing the point wouldn’t I?
So upon reading the above part of my story I’m guessing you can see why I had such a hard time relating to Mr. Hill’s words about every adversity carrying with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.
Fortunately, over the years and along my personal development journey I’ve been able to see first hand that what Napoleon had to say was right on and absolutely true!
Allow me to explain…
Let’s go back to my “young years”… remember how I mentioned I had terrible hand writing? Well I also was blessed to have an incredible teacher by the name of Ms. Presley.
As much as anyone she helped to instill in me a foundation of personal development I now teach to everyone I come into contact with through the speaking, writing and coaching that I do. That is — finding a work around. Not accepting the challenges that come our way as the end result.
Here’s how she did it. My reality at the time was that my hand writing was near illegible. You had to be able to break code to make out my writing 🙂 What was the solution you ask? At a time when folks didn’t rely on computers near as much as we do now in the classroom, she taught me how to type. That was my workaround. Simple, perhaps even obvious, but she did it.
And that, for me was a major step in my eventually formulating the idea that there’s absolutely, positively always a workaround that can be applied for whatever personal success we as individuals strive for.
In fact, looking back I can see clearly now how the idea of the workaround helped me to overcome my disability in math. You see, while conventional wisdom might say we should be good in math if we hope to excel in business endeavors — my experience with the workaround told me that all I really needed to be good at was working a calculator or a spreadsheet. And of course as I learned later on — I just needed to make the choice to work with folks who complimented my weaker areas and skills.
Hopefully the examples above are helping to illustrate the truth that every challenge in fact gives us the chance to grow and become the person we were meant to be.
I’m not done yet though…
Allow me to go back to my “teenage years”…
While it is true that the financial lifestyle change was a challenge — one that I would not wish for anyone to ever have to experience. I now see clearly that it is responsible as much as anything in my life for shaping me into the person that I am today.
Allow me to tell you why I say this. First, but certainly not least I was suddenly (for the better) in a place where I had only myself to give to anyone that I wanted to become friends with. There were no fancy perks that came with “being Josh’s friend”.
I learned to accept people at face value, and to be the best person I could be — as I was banking on the idea that you attract the type of people to you by the type of person you are (over time I’ve come to realize that’s an absolute truth in life). To this day I am still in close contact with many of the friends I met during that time of personal adversity.
To put it frankly I don’t think I’d be the same person I am now had it not been for what I just mentioned.
Interestingly enough, we started a new family business (kudos to my father for understanding and teaching me through example that you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to it). Times were still very lean of course — and we didn’t meet with immediate financial success, but we were taking the actions necessary to head in the right direction.
So it was that at 15 years old I had the chance to work in the family business. Fortunately, there were no extra resources available at the time for me to do odd jobs and such and be paid minimum wage, so a position was created for me.
I would be calling on prospective clients (via the phone) to pre-screen and set the appointments for my father and the other commissioned salespeople who worked in the company.
I should add that there aren’t many times I can count in my life where not knowing what’s supposed to be impossible have proved so right. So I accepted the new position that was created for me. I did surprisingly well with it.
My teenage years moved on with increased levels of responsibility and then about the time I turned 18, my old “friend” TS (Tourette’s) reared its head one more time. I was on the phone getting ready to schedule an appointment when what seemed to be without warning I could not for the life of me spit out what I wanted to say. I sputtered out what I was trying to say as best I could, and the woman I was speaking with, bless her actually helped and said, don’t you worry it’s all ok. But it was not, I thought — all ok.
Here I was at a point in my life where I thought I had things pretty well figured out. I’d been a student of personal and professional development since I was 15 years old (thanks to one of the salespeople who encouraged me to start taking my development seriously). With all this acquired knowledge and skill at my disposal it appeared to me at the time that I suddenly had this most basic of needs near nonexistent (my ability to communicate).
It was a major adversity let me tell you. Fortunately I didn’t give up, I certainly could have done more, but I did the best with the resources I thought I had at the time and continued on making the best of things (or so I told myself).
As time moved on the chance opened up for me to move to Louisville, KY. While I wasn’t there all that long it was an incredible time of personal growth for me. I was exposed to a bigger outlook on business in general. I met some incredibly talented people and really learned how to expand my thinking — and in turn begin looking beyond what people had achieved from a point of simply being in awe — and instead saying, if they can do it, so can I.
Flash forward and I relocated back to my home town of Tuscaloosa, AL. — along the way I registered my first web site address — which was the first step in what I do now.
Though at the time I had no idea that tiniest of actions would lead me on the path I am now. Life is like that though, if you follow your passion — you don’t have to know all the details in advance. You do have to take real action and be willing to give your dead level best to all you do, and in doing so the details present themselves and your eventual success always unfolds.
As you’ve read what I shared above I do hope that you’re able to use it as a catalyst for whatever challenges you may find yourself faced with. Life is not an end game. It’s not about the getting there as much as the enjoying it (often times right where you are) in the moment. Truly it’s about the journey.
Here are a few more key points that I’d like to expand on from my story above.
While I was dealing with my blocking tic, and the occasional anxiety as a result of it, I was always looking for my workaround. I knew I had the strong desire to work in the personal development industry, but the thought of speaking professionally seemed a distant dream at the time.
What could I possibly do to compensate for my sub-par communication skills I wondered? I would write them rather than speaking them from the stage. If you’re thinking to yourself, well that’s easy for him, he writes for a living, let me assure you, I have absolutely zero formal training in writing, nor journalism (which I’m reminded of on occasion by people who take the time to critique something I’ve written…lol 🙂
What I did have was the knowledge and thoughts that I knew would help others. So I just fired up my old word processor and wrote what I had to say just as if I were speaking it. It worked, and years later I’m still doing just that.
While some may read what I just said about my need to resort to writing and see it as a weakness — my life experiences have shown me first hand that the particular adversity was in fact a blessing in disguise.
Here’s what I mean…
Because I had to hone my ability to effectively communicate my thoughts through the written word, I got better at it. In doing so, the articles and essays I’ve written over the years have appeared in countless places. They have been solely responsible in many cases for leading to the opportunities I have now to speak professionally to companies and organizations.
So the question is, was it really a hindrance — or something that I needed to experience to get to the point where I am now? Makes you think doesn’t it?
And so it is with life’s challenges and adversities. The obvious approach — the easy approach is to assume that the given adversity is meant to keep us from doing or having what it is that we desire.
Yet, the reality is that on the other side of every adversity lies the opportunity to unleash our own personal greatness!
It’s your life, LIVE BIG! Josh Hinds 🙂
* Josh Hinds is the author of Why Perfect Timing is a Myth: Tips for Staying Inspired and Motivated Day in and Day out! and It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG!