A regular column about getting strong(er) on the platform, strong(er) in business and strong(er) in life.

This last Thursday, between the turkey and the pumpkin pie, I received Dave’s Thanksgiving e-mail on my Blackberry. After reading it, I quickly realized that this wasn’t your typical generalized “message from the CEO” that I've come to expect from most corporations, it was something far more significant. The basic premise was that we should be grateful for the challenges and adversities in our lives because this is the way we grow and ultimately become the people who we are meant to be. In a world that is pathologically lazy and apathetic, this is not a popular message, however, for those of us who are familiar with the reality that great gains are the result of great sacrifice, this message is 100 percent on target.

To put it simply, It gets good when it gets hard.

There are very few athletes that reach the pinnacle of success early on in their careers. I’m not saying that they don’t exist, but it's extremely rare. Why do we see so many powerlifters setting incredible records into their late 30’s and 40’s? Chances are likely that they're putting the wisdom gained through years in the weight room to work for them. Therefore, they aren’t just training hard, they're training smart. They take special care to avoid the mistakes they made in the early years of their training. The same holds true in the business world. I spoke with many Senior Executives that credited their current success on shortcomings they experienced early in their careers and their efforts to overcome them.

People who claimed that they never failed, actually make me very suspicious. I assume one of two conclusions about them:

  1. They never took any risks and are therefore lazy/unmotivated
  2. They have such significant self-image issues that they don't seem to recognize when they're failing…which is by far the more dangerous of the two.

The bottom line is that until you have experience, practically everything you think or do in either the weight room or the workplace is based exclusively on an educated guess or opinion. Go through a rotator cuff or ACL repair, or go through a bankruptcy or a lawsuit. Survive it, learn from it, and grow from it.

How many powerlifters have experienced a devastating injury, only to emerge far better than where they were prior to getting hurt? The examples of this are endless…people overcoming hardships to achieve remarkable results. Adversity creates wisdom and molds us into a tougher, more refined version. Why would we want to deny ourselves such opportunities by being risk adverse?

Always Remember:

  1. Setbacks and hardships are always weathered far more successfully if you have a good support system. Family members, training buddies, co-workers and coaches can help more than you know. Accept their support, listen to their advice and don’t put yourself on an island.
  2. Don’t be a victim. Setbacks might not always be your fault, however, they are your responsibility. Blaming others wastes time and creates despondency. It is largely up to you to overcome them.
  3. Hope is not a strategy! If you've suffered an injury, you can’t hope to start training again, instead you must do all that you can do to ensure a good recovery. That includes rehab, rest and ice. The same holds true with business; either you can hope that you end the year with a positive gross margin, or you can put in the work to make certain it happens.
  4. Problems are normal! It never ceases to amaze me when people are surprised when they experience a setback. I can't remember a single day in my life that was devoid of problems; therefore, problems, setbacks, issues are NORMAL! We should anticipate them and shouldn't lose our minds when they happen.

Weather the storms, learn from your mistakes and gain the experience you need to truly become exceptional.