These days it is easy to look successful. With a strong social media game, you can project a level of expertise and accomplishment that doesn’t match reality. You can convince people for a while, and maybe even grow a significant following. But, at some point the superficial layers will have to give way to depth and substance if you want to grow into the picture you’ve painted.
The truth is success is hard. It’s painstaking. And everyone isn’t cut out to achieve it. It takes commitment to processes that can be tedious and slow developing. Very seldom is there instant gratification. These realities create a barrier that many are not willing to cross to achieve great things.
I am a firm believer that anything worth accomplishing will force you to grow in areas that are uncomfortable. Whether intended or not you will face adversity along your path. And how you handle that adversity can serve as an inflection point to help you progress or regress. When adversity hits I believe you have a few options:
- The adversity forces you to surrender and lose faith in your ability to achieve
- Grin and bear it with the mentality to get through to the other side
- Face it head on with an open mind to learn and grow from it
Those who condition themselves to take on adversity and grow from its lessons will position themselves to accomplish great things with their lives. It won’t be easy and it may test you mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and maybe even physically. But with the right perspective, you can find the opportunities to learn and grow in those areas as well.
Throughout my life adversity has played a pivotal role in my growth and development. On many occasions it has created the space necessary to pivot and innovate my thinking.
Today’s struggle prepares you for tomorrow’s win
Many people will only achieve a fraction of their full potential because they are afraid of public failure. I believe failure is just as integral to success as anything else in the process. No one sets out to fail in the things they decide to invest time and energy into. Yes, I understand that failure in specific areas in your life can be catastrophic, and I am not advocating that you set out to fail in every aspect of your life.
In other areas though, especially areas of growth, lack of failure means that you have not tested your limitations. And without testing your limitations, how do you know what you are truly capable of achieving?
As an athlete you learn to accept failure, and in many ways, chase it. Not because you’re comfortable with not achieving goals, but because I knew it creates pathways to growth. Failure provides tangible data and avenues to improve. Whether pushing your muscles to failure during a weight training session or losing a game, failure is normalized as part of the process, and an integral part of the process to learn and grow.
When I decided to make the transition from football player to business man, I carried this same mentality with me. Fueled by ambition and a willingness to learn, I decided to acquire a failing professional indoor football organization at 27 years old, while still playing in the NFL. I knew the learning curve was steep. And, rebuilding a failing organization required experience and technical skills I did not possess.
Leading the organization required me to trust my instincts and learn quickly. It revealed leadership qualities and skills I didn’t know I had. It also revealed deficiencies I hadn’t realized before. Each new role and responsibility challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. As my knowledge base grew with each experience, my ability to lead and communicate had to keep pace.
Every sponsorship pitch, operations meeting, community outreach initiative became a chance to test, learn, and get better. I afforded myself the grace to make mistakes- just not the same mistake twice. It was important to build a culture that afforded others the same grace.
Becoming more comfortable with my imperfections and deficiencies empowered me to make decisions that were aligned with my vision for the organization. I learned to communicate that vision with other stakeholders to create buy in and support. It eventually led to increasing sponsorship and ticket revenues and recruiting players and staff that would win a league championship.
Unfortunately, even with increasing revenues and success on the field, the organization never became profitable. And after 3 years it went under. By most accounts my turnaround attempt would be considered a failure. The organization was never able to get over the hump.
However, the lessons and the skills that I learned throughout the journey have become foundational to my personal development. In navigating those uncertain times and challenging myself to growth outside of my comfort zone, I was able to reset the bar on my own perceived limitations as a leader and executive.
It takes more than skill and ability
Accomplishing your big goals in life requires more than just skill development. Achieving success, especially long-term success requires a holistic approach. If you were to acquire the skills and abilities you need to overcome your obstacles tomorrow, are you prepared to handle the type of success you want in the rest of your life?
Ultimately, if you are not mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready for the success you desire, you won’t be able to hold onto it.
To truly capitalize on your hard work and perseverance, especially through tough times, you must be willing to embrace change and personal development in all areas of your life. Adversity presents opportunities to learn and pivot your thinking.
If you can face adversity head on, identify those opportunities to learn, and adapt when necessary, you begin creating moat that protects your dreams and aspirations as you continue to grind to achieve them.