Simon Cowell had a record company fail. Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California Film School twice. J.K. Rowling’s world-famous Harry Potter novels were rejected by several publishers while she also was going through a divorce and raising her daughter alone. Sylvester Stallone suffered complications at birth that severed a nerve and caused paralysis in part of his face, which caused his slightly slurred speech.
Consider Mary Groda-Lewis, who endured 16 years of illiteracy because of unrecognized dyslexia, was committed to a reformatory on two different occasions, and almost died of a stroke while bearing a child. Committed to going to college, she worked at a variety of jobs, saved money, graduated with her high school equivalency at age 18, was named Oregon's outstanding Upward Bound student and finally entered college. In her determination to become a doctor, she faced 15 medical school rejections until Albany Medical College finally accepted her. In 1984, Dr. Mary Groda-Lewis, at age 35, graduated with honors to fulfill her dream.
Overcoming adversity presents tremendous opportunity to demonstrate what you can accomplish if you are committed to achieving a goal. Because I’ve shared my experiences with confronting business setbacks, I’m often asked for advice from people who are considering throwing in the towel on their ambitions.
I listen to their situations, and almost every time, I tell them the same thing: You can’t give up so easily. Whether your plan requires some tweaks or a major overhaul, if you can hang in there, you can get there. Hard work and nerves of steel are honed just like the work of a master blacksmith.
As one of my favorite authors, Napoleon Hill, said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
Be thankful for adversity. No person is more unhappy than the one who has never experienced adversity. It’s often said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s perhaps an exaggeration, but I’m grateful I didn’t give in to any negative thoughts that would have surely brought my business down.
Adversity is the grindstone of life. Intended to polish you up, adversity also has the ability to grind you down. The impact and ultimate result depend on how you respond to the difficulties that come your way.
Consider the doomsday businessman who had a reason every single month as to why business was bad. His list of people-problems and business adversity is a comical reminder of our tendency to find excuses for our lack of success.
January: People spent all their cash for the holidays.
February: All the best customers have gone south.
March: Unseasonably cold and too rainy.
April: Everybody is preoccupied with income taxes.
May: Too much rain; farmers distressed.
June: Too little rain; farmers distressed.
July: Heat has everyone down.
August: Everybody is away on vacation.
September: Everybody is back but broke.
October: Customers are waiting to see how fall clearance sales turn out.
November: People are upset over election results.
December: Customers need money for the holidays.
Mackay’s Moral: Never let a stumble be the end of your journey.