The Power Of Perseverance Through Adversity
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” — Randy Pausch
Ponder your answers to the following questions. When faced with difficulties and struggles, how do you respond? Do you play victim or do you see them as an opportunity to engage your inner strength and work through the problem? Your response to the question will tell you how you handle difficulties.
In 2006, American actor Sylvester Stallone wrote and directed a movie based on the story of Rocky Balboa, a former heavyweight boxing champion who retired from the sport and seizes the opportunity to step back into the ring. During the film, Rocky Balboa delivers a powerful message to his son, Rocky Jr. about the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. He says: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
What do you think he meant by that passage? What lasting impression does it leave you with? For me, it signifies that life is not always easy, and we will face many challenges and adversities. But it is a reminder that even if we stumble, we have the strength to keep going and push through our challenges. Even when life throws us its toughest challenges, we must push ourselves to keep going instead of lingering in our sorrow. Expressed differently, we have to find the courage and resilience to overcome any challenge, no matter how daunting; by staying strong and never losing faith in ourselves. Similarly, despite how tough life can be, we mustn’t give up on ourselves because we don’t know when the tides will turn in our favour. Through our hardships, we gain valuable insights that will transform us into the person we will become. Do you believe this to be true? Have you experienced difficulties and hardships that shaped you into the person you are today?
I’ve experienced many hardships throughout my life, which I wrote about in my first book, The Power To Navigate Life. I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness in my early twenties and some years later; lost my father to complications from type II diabetes. This occurred within the space of a short period and it changed my life in several ways. I uncovered a deep well of strength within me; I call spirit, which held me through my struggles and guided me to the future I wanted to live. I don’t need to remind you of the harsh realities of the world. It is an unforgiving place, filled with difficulties and challenges. When life knocks a person down, it feels like a succession of blows, shaking them to their very core. Rocky’s speech emphasises that true winning is getting knocked down, but having the resilience of getting back up and continuing the journey. It is not about retreating, nor is it about claiming we are victims of our circumstances. It requires developing the resilience to face our hardships and not let ourselves succumb to the ravages of life.
So how can we use this quote to inspire us? First, we must appreciate hardships help us grow and develop because challenges are part of the human experience. We cannot wish away our difficulties, but we can learn to become resilient in the face of them. Second, it can inspire us to persevere through tough times because assuredly they will come when we least expect it. It doesn’t matter your age, ethnicity, social status or otherwise. Hardships and challenges do not discriminate, they hit every one of us. Therefore, we ought to develop the strength to withstand our challenges without becoming mired in them. We must open our mind and heart to the possibilities of growth and development that our challenges present us with. Difficulties are a part of life, and they force us to grow, reshaping us into someone new. They force us to become resilient and, for some, it helps them develop compassion for others who are going through a similar experience. It softens us in places that were once hard and unforgiving. Nature has a way of pushing us beyond our boundaries until we think we can no longer go on, and then it rewards us with a glimmer of hope.
Finding Strength In Trying Times
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou
History is filled with successful people who faced hardships and overcome them. I’m reminded of Oprah Winfrey, who was born into poverty and experienced sexual abuse as a child. She overcame these challenges to become one of the most successful women in the world, as a talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at 21. He was given only a few years to live, but he defied the odds and became one of the most brilliant physicists of our time. As mentioned earlier, I faced two major ordeals in my early 20s, with a major health scare and later losing my father to illness. Even though I knew the diagnosis was not survivable, the experience changed me in ways I could never have imagined. I won’t lie, it scared the hell out of me. However, I kept pushing forward, feeling a hope that something greater than me was watching over me. You see, when we don’t have a choice, we are called to become a greater version of ourselves. In the moments when we are scared, or uncertain about the future, we transcend our mortal selves and develop the inner strength to overcome the misfortunes life will throw at us.
Do you agree? For instance, how did you get through the difficult periods of your life? Who did you become as a result of those experiences? In the Rocky quote, he says: “It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done!” This is a powerful statement because it captures the essence of what we all experience; the constant forces of life acting upon us. Right now, people around the world are struggling to make ends meet due to the rapidly increasing cost of living, facing the dire consequences of climate change, suffering due to disease and conflict, etc. These conditions affect people in a multitude of ways. Even with the toughest of times, we must consider how far we are willing to go and will we keep pushing ahead. What Rocky Balboa is talking about is resilience. Are we willing to develop the resiliency to overcome our challenges, instead of believing we are victims? Are we willing to dig deep within ourselves and find the spark of hope to illuminate the darkness? This is what winning is about; winning in the face of our difficulties and hardships.
So, are you willing to become the person who can confront their struggles and keep going, no matter what? Instead of saying “Why me?”, do you look for ways to grow from the experience? Can you ask yourself: “What am I meant to learn from this experience?” These are questions we ought to ask ourselves when we face insurmountable hardships. Because buried within our problems lies a powerful reservoir of untapped potential waiting to come alive. We must excavate through the pain and suffering to discover the truth of who we are amidst the rubble of despair and anger. Only then we will be inspired not to give up, and keep moving forward no matter how tough life may get.