A Gift to be Shared

Photo of laptop that says Never Stop Learning

We have found that one of the biggest gifts that comes from adversity is not just what we learn but the lessons we are able to share. Wisdom that is hoarded helps no one. We can’t give tips on how to live a life devoid of adversity. We are most stretched and strengthened by going through the experience ourselves. But we can help others by sharing our stories – our lessons – about how we’ve dealt with life’s difficulties.

We wish we had embraced adversity sooner in our careers. And personal lives too. The longer we wait, the more we allow adversity to take us down, the more awkward things become and the harder it is to move forward. I wish I had jumped back into the workforce sooner after I had to shut down a company. Instead, I let parties consume me for several months – not the kind of party you’d want to attend though. They were pity parties. And I had a choice to make: continue to wallow or get up and get going again. I chose to let adversity refine me rather than define me. I made the decision to move forward and to share the lessons I’d learned. 

Paula wishes she and a colleague had settled their differences earlier in their working relationship. They were both passionate about their work, but they went about it differently.  Their differences in approach and executive caused great friction – even visible to others – that was unhealthy.  After the sore festered for years, not months, it unfortunately began to define both of them. It was time to allow for some refinement, so they went out for drinks, had a cry even, and called a truce to the silliness they had allowed to define them in a business for which they both had tremendous passion.

The quicker we deal with adversity, the less time and space we give to negativity, the sooner we can make positive changes. We live, learn – and we hope – come away with more knowledge and greater confidence to tackle the next challenge – big or small.

When we learn from our mistakes, when we make the best of a bad situation, when we turn a sour relationship around, when new ideas and procedures emerge from dark, painful places, adversity has given us a gift. It is the gift of hope for something better, the reward that flows from transparency and vulnerability, and the fulfillment that comes from sharing what we have learned to help others.

A favorite quote on the topic of adversity comes from Wintley Phipps, It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given. What lessons has adversity taught you?