Whatever disaster you’re trying to put behind you, just know that hardship and adversity is what builds strength and ultimately success.
Another new year, another round of hopes and dreams, and another bout of disappointments. I know that defeat can be crushing and that setbacks can seem like the end of the world, in fact this past year I had to overcome some new personal hurdles and continue onward to persevere and see success.
What I’ve come to realize through trial and error (or sometimes what feels like trial and execution) is that these setbacks are only tests of our character. If we have the right mindset, which is truly the hardest thing to do — changing our own mind, we have built strength in a time when others would despair.
Some of my readers may know my story, becoming homeless after a hurricane, losing most of the precious belongings that my daughters, wife and I had accumulated. This was my trial, and though today we are happy and well adjusted, that experience opened my eyes to the power of life lessons.
Here are 4 hard lessons I learned, and why even though it felt like a was walking on broken glass and razor blades barefoot, I built scar tissue around them and used them to help myself, my family and others.
An Unexpected Disaster Opened My Eyes
Of course no one wakes up and says, “Today I will become homeless,” but that’s exactly what happened to me. While on vacation I received the call that Hurricane Irene had put our house in the path of a flood.
The interesting thing with this situation is that the possibility had never occurred to me. The fact that suddenly I was returning home without a place for my wife and kids to live was honestly the last thing that I thought could be possible.
It was though. I was suddenly one of those people you see on the news, despondent over the loss, yet grateful that I had my family with me. This experience gave me a perspective I had never had before. I realized that my world could be upside down, yet I was still there, breathing and having the capacity to move on.
A Shoulder To Lean On
Of course the loss began with the phone call from my sister in law, “Sean, I have to tell you some bad news …”, and from there it initially seemed to only get worse. How was I going to provide? What could I do to fix this? I found out my largest enemies during this event were I and me .
Suddenly people began to come to our aid, willingly giving of themselves for us.
My mother in law opened her house to us (crammed tight in space, yet the best feeling to be in a home, surrounded by love.) Throngs of friends and family came to our aid to help pick up our pieces and make sure we were OK. This was probably the hardest thing for me to swallow. I have always been the leader, the stalwart person who didn’t ask, nor did I want help. Yet when I needed it, it was there.
We opened ourselves up to the assistance, and it came, without any strings unless you count heart strings. While initially humbling, I think this has been the lesson that opened my world to infinite possibilities, because I am not alone.
Baby’s Skin Isn’t Thick
I wasn’t prepared for what happened. It hurt deeply and at first I didn’t think there would be a tomorrow. Like a newborn baby, we need the world to surround us with germs, falls, and emotional wants. Over time we become resilient to sickness, realize the scrapped knee is not a broken one, and that patience and understanding are ways to cope with not getting what we want right away.
I became more self aware during this experience, I found that what happened didn’t end me, it prepared me. I was able to do this, I was able to overcome this.
I cried, but eventually realized that the tears brought no resolve, no answers. What did was moving on from the negative point and being stronger for it.
I Can’t Do This
Being in this new and troubling situation also brought it’s own share of confidence shaking, right to my core. I mentioned earlier I didn’t like to ask for help, I was stubborn and thought I could handle anything. This was simply not the case.
I found during the low moments, when I thought I couldn’t survive this event, that a look into my wife’s, or seven and nine year old daughters eyes, that I could. Where I lacked confidence, I put up the facade of having it together. Eventually I gained the true confidence to move forward.
Yes, faking it until we made it was not something I was comfortable with before, but losing your home and stuff makes you change. It makes you realize not only what is truly important, but also how much you can move outside of what you are normally comfortable with.
As I reflect back during that dark time, what I thought was my own private road to hell, I know that without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. Those experiences shaped and molded me into someone that can look adversity in the eye and say, “I got this”. Use those life lessons to create the next phase in your life, becoming stronger everyday.
I’d love to hear your stories of facing adversity and coming out the other side a champion. Let me know how YOU did it!
Hear more stories of success through the eyes of hardship at www.youleadingyou.com
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