How can you stay self-motivated and productive in the midst
of turbulent times and a sluggish economy? How do you
persevere as a salesperson when times are tough and
customers seem to be holding on to every penny in fear of
Every challenge, setback and personal difficulty you encounter
in life also brings with it the seed of equivalent or greater
benefit! The key to overcoming adversity is to avoid the
temptation of panic and instead, focus on finding the greater
benefit. Adversity will never leave you where it found you; it
will either strengthen your character or weaken your resolve.
During the early years of WW II Nazi submarines, operating
in wolf packs, roamed the frigid waters of the North Atlantic
with impunity sinking an alarming number of British military
and merchant ships. Hitler was confident that his U-boats
could blockade England and eventually starve the British
people into submission.
In the summer of 1940, while the Battle of Britain was being
played out over London, the Germans unmercifully sank over
300 British military and merchant ships. Prime Minister Winston
Churchill, fearing the negative impact these devastating losses
might have on the nation’;s morale, ordered the information
withheld from the public. In an effort to reduce the appalling
number of casualties lost at sea, Churchill instructed the British
Royal Navy to begin a study to determine what, if anything,
could be done to save more lives during sea rescue.
While interviewing the survivors an interesting discovery was
made. To their complete astonishment, the researchers noted
that the survival rate for the younger, presumably more
physically fit sailors was remarkably lower when compared to
their older shipmates. The study concluded that the older sailors
had a significantly higher survival rate due to the fact that they
had overcome more adversity and therefore, had developed
greater confidence in being rescued than the younger, less
The head of the research project, Kurt Hahn, was so moved by
this discovery that he created the Outward Bound program.
Hahn designed the Outward Bound program, utilizing a series
of progressively rugged challenges, to mentally and physically
prepare young British sailors to cope with the adversity of naval
combat. Today, the Outward Bound program works with troubled
youth to help them develop greater confidence and self-image.
I find it interesting that people faced with similar adversity
often experience remarkably different outcomes. Some people
become weakened, some become hardened and some become
stronger. If you place a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean into a
pot of boiling water, each reacts in a completely different manner
to their conditions. The carrot goes into the boiling water firm and
comes out soft; the egg goes in fragile and comes out hardened;
while the coffee bean turns the hot water into coffee by releasing
its flavor and aroma!
While you may not fear a U-boat sinking your ship, you may find
yourself challenged to stay afloat in today’;s unpredictable and
choppy business waters. Selling in these challenging times
demands determination and personal fortitude. Having the will to
persevere when times are tough is a characteristic commonly
found among self-made millionaires. Are you a quitter? The last
time you failed, did you stop trying because you failed or did you
fail because you stopped trying?
Thomas Edison documented 10,000 failed attempts to develop the
electric light bulb. A reporter asked the great inventor how it felt to
have failed 10,000 times trying to invent the light bulb. Edison
responded, "Young man, I didn’;t fail 10,000 times trying to invent
the light bulb, I simply documented 10,000 ways that it wouldn’;t
work." Imagine how different our world would be today if Edison
had been a quitter.
You must expect to encounter detours, roadblocks and potholes
of adversity along the road of life. The next time you are faced
with adversity, learn from it and know that you are becoming a
much stronger person because of it!