All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. – Walt Disney
What does that mean?
This is yet another Twitter-friendly of a slightly longer quote: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Walt knew about being kicked in the teeth. High School dropout. Too young to join the Army. Couldn’t get anyone to hire him as an artist or cartoonist. Founded a business with another cartoonist, which went bust. Founded an animation company, which went bankrupt. Then, after some initial success, he lost most of his staff and his signature character, Oswald.
But the important thing is each misstep was unique. He learned enough from each to not goof up the same way twice. He became stronger as he worked his way over each obstacle, as he faced down each troubling situation. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Why is adversity important?
Adversity is a test. With adversity, we find out how much we really want something. We ask ourselves if it is worth the effort, worth the time, worth the toil and sweat. We learn what we can and cannot do, and we learn how to do things we never thought we’d be able to do.
Without adversity, we would not be challenged, and without challenges, how would we grow? Everything would be easy, everything would be bland, and no one would stand out. Everything would be a perfect shade of gray. That doesn’t sound like fun to me, does it sound like fun to you?
Instead, we meet each adversity, large or small, with determination and a sense of value. Some adversities are best avoided or minimized, while others are there to be conquered. As learning is part of the process, we learn which to conquer and which to avoid. We also learn methods to help us more easily or more completely conquer adversity, and thus strengthen ourselves for the next time.
Where can I apply this in my life?
I don’t know, where can’t you? Most everything is an adversity the first time you encounter it. I’ve used the example of walking before. At one point, that was truly a challenge, a troubling feat of which you were not able to overcome.
However, with perseverance, and by learning from your experiences, you eventually overcame that obstacle, and become stronger for the effort. Now, you are so strong, you don’t even know you’re doing it. You think “I need to go over to that side of the room” and it happens. It wasn’t always that easy, right?
The same can be said of every skill, each talent, and all of your abilities. At one point, they were beyond your reach, but you tried, adjusted, and got stronger. Eventually, they fell before your determined effort, and you overcame the obstacle, and dismissed that which used to be troublesome.
Now cast your eyes over your present life. Where are there things, challenges, troubles, or even obstacles? I would imagine you have a few, of different sizes, right? Some seem insurmountable, others just look like more trouble than you think it is worth.
Grab some paper and write down a few of your issues. Consider each and write down if you think they are obstacles, challenges, troubles, or whatever other term you might have. Consider what your meaning is for each of these terms.
Is something you label as a trouble more or less difficult than a challenge or an obstacle? Do the words have different meanings besides intensities? Are you less likely to take on something that’s a trouble than a challenge? It is an interesting question, and one which we each will answer differently.
Which of these issues do you think you could use to get stronger? Could working on one help you with parts of another? I have found that to be true from time to time, how about you? Are there any that you think you might want to get working on, now that you have been thinking about it for a while? Pick an issue and start working on it.
Consider what has stopped you in the past, and come up with some ideas for how you will get past that point this time, then write them down. Consider what you might have to do first. When I started working on my cars, the challenge was bodywork. It still is, but I’ve grown stronger. Now I work with metal, not just body putty. Write a few of these ideas down as well.
Take a look at the list and find something fairly small, something you could get started on today. Get a little momentum going. That and determination are the primary enemies of adversity, troubles, and obstacles.
Get started, keep an eye on your progress, adjust as necessary, and keep going until you are strong enough to get past that issue. And then use your new found strength to tackle the next issue.
Happy Birthday to Walt Disney, Born: 5 December, 1901.