“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
― Abraham Lincoln
How people deal with the crises, circumstances, and tragedies of life tells us a great deal about their potential. Some will immediately accept responsibility for whatever befalls them, others immediately deflect blame on anyone and everyone–launch investigations, send letters, complain when quite clearly they were at fault…but refuse responsibility for their actions.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
― John Wooden
Crisis does not make character, but it does reveal it. So when a person faces adversity–he/she stands at a very literal crossroads: the two roads are simply–character or compromise.
When a person chooses character – it builds strength, as in weight training, this strength does not always come pain-free, many times the choice of character will bring negative consequences in the short term – but the development of character is at the very heart of our development as human beings and honestly it will go on forever. Many times a short term loss equates to a long term BIG gain.
John Maxwell notes:
– Character is more than talk
– Talent is a gift, but character is a choice
– Character brings lasting success with people
An individual simply can not rise above the limitations of their character so we all have to work on growing it — everyday and sometimes it is painful.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
― Helen Keller
In a biology lab, the teacher explained how butterfly struggles to break the cocoon as students curiously observed this metamorphosis. Before leaving the class, she urged students to just observe and not help the butterfly.
After a while, one of the students took pity on the struggling butterfly and broke the cocoon to help. But shortly afterwards, the butterfly died.
When the teacher returned, she saw what had happened. “Your help killed the butterfly. Struggle helps butterfly in developing and strengthening its wings,” she said.
“Our struggles are the source of our strength.”
Have you ever considered how your life struggles can actually help you?
I remember reading a great piece of wisdom: “part of identifying your life purpose is to identify your struggles and set backs.” From there, you can then feel actually prepared to ask yourself how to utilize this information in a way to help others.
“Once you believe that you are Ripe, You are Ready to Rot!”
“Well, I did do a good job and definitely deserve a break!”
Well, it’s fine to feel satisfied with your past efforts and achievements. BUT……….And its a BIG BUT……….The problem is that it’s now your PAST
So, you can’t sit and think of your past achievements as your source of contention because the future is still open for you – and for a lot of others too. And they might, in all probability, challenge your past achievements and leave you sitting like an exposed duck!
The answer to this scenario must be to stop thinking that you’re all ‘Ripe’ and ‘Great’ now and slowly crawl out of your comfort zone seeking the next challenge, the next project, the next achievement, and then the next, and then the next till you know how much you still need to do!
A sure-shot way of dealing with this is to always set very high goals, sometimes beyond any possible conception of achievability, and compare your performance in any skill-set to the best that has ever been.
The following James Cameron quote on this subject is my personal favorite –
“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, You will fail above everyone else’s success!”
I’ll end this post with a question to all of you, a quote from Ray Kroc:
“Are you Green and Growing, Or Ripe and Rotting?
The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the water close to Japan has not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring the fish. If the return trip took more time, the fish were not fresh. To solve this problem, fish companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen fish. And they did not like the taste of frozen fish. The frozen fish brought a lower price. So, fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, they were tired, dull, and lost their fresh-fish taste. The fishing industry faced an impending crisis! But today, they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan. How did they manage? To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks but with a small shark. The fish are challenged and hence are constantly on the move.
The challenge they face keeps them alive and fresh! Have you realized that some of us are also living in a pond but most of the time tired and dull? Basically in our lives, sharks are new challenges to keep us active. If you are steadily conquering challenges, you are happy. Your challenges keep you energized. Don’t create success and revel in it in a state of inertia. You have the resources, skills and abilities to make a difference. Put a shark in your tank and see how far you can really go.