Look for the Good


In his 1634 poem Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, John Milton coined the proverbial saying "Every cloud has a silver lining" to encourage us all that regardless of how bad a situation might appear, good can always come from it. Tough situations have the power to make us feel powerless and unable to see how things might change but change they can and they will if we don't quit. Things might be difficult. The circumstances may be soul-crushing and will-bending but we are resilient and there is no situation so grave that the human soul cannot recover from if it is willing.

John was in Afghanistan and lost both legs from the knee downwards when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on his convoy. He came back broken and disillusioned but in time he was able to confront his circumstance and face the world once more in a more powerful way than he did when he wasn't injured. Now, he travels around the country letting the physically disabled know that their bodies might be broken, but their minds are not. He found the good news amid a very bad circumstance. 

There is so much good that can come from adversity. The first great nugget of wisdom is viewing tough times as an opportunity for growth. Advances in growth always come in times of great discomfort. Growth and comfort can't co-exist because growth requires stretching; moving out of our comfort zones which by definition means some level of discomfort. Every time we are brave enough to be uncomfortable, we end up in places we've never been before and things we've never possessed. Robin Sharma said it well with this quote: "Your greatest growth and progress lies in the area of your greatest discomfort."

A second good that accompanies adversity is the chance for character-building. It was Helen Keller who said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can be soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." Do you want your soul to be strengthened? Are you looking to have a greater inspiration to drive your success? If the answer is yes, start to see the good in adverse times. When I get frustrated hearing the status quo or navigating incompetence, my boss always says, "Ola, don't worry about it. It's all character building!" Character is one of those things that cannot be built in quiet waters. It is only when we go through pain and suffering that our character muscles are constructed and strengthened. Every time we encounter situations that we cannot control, have to express humility or need to compromise, our character is fortified. We learn new skills regarding how we think, behave and operate in relationships with those around us. As we learn how to positively handle difficult situations with grace, we build the type of character that is the foundation for worthwhile success. 

The third benefit of adversity can be found in the way it teaches us to be resourceful and how to do more with less. When we are resourceful, we use what we have to do what we need to do. The challenge is what engineers resourcefulness and what causes us to find ways to make our lives work for us. When we become resourceful, we can do our due diligence to seek options on how to navigate through the difficulties that come our way and choose the best path forward based on the resources available to us. When we become resourceful, we can find opportunities that fit our needs and help us accomplish our needs.

Regardless of what life throws at us, the good news is that there is good left in us all. Potential and greatness exist in us all. We can accomplish so much more than what we see before us today. We must never let the obstacles that we encounter along the way stop us in our tracks. We must be directional - moving onward and forward in an upward trajectory. Like an eagle, it's time to spread our wings and fly!

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