The Hidden Potential of Adversity & Failure As A Secret of Success

Young Sage Thrasher on a Juniper branch
Young Sage Thrasher on a Juniper branch | Source
Swainson's Hawk in flight
Swainson's Hawk in flight | Source
Osprey in flight
Osprey in flight | Source
Caterpillar enjoying lunch
Caterpillar enjoying lunch | Source
Yellow Swallowtail enjoying nectar on a Red Hot Poker
Yellow Swallowtail enjoying nectar on a Red Hot Poker | Source

When it comes to mindset, attitude and the winning ways of success, especially for entrepreneurs, listen to what a little birdie can tell you.

The baby bird is trapped in the dark. Held captive; it is cramped inside an egg. The very environment where it is imprisoned and from which it must escape, is also its life-giving incubator.

It is only within these confines that the chick grows and develops; achieving success and winning its release by repeatedly pecking the inside of the shell. It cannot remain there forever, and still become what it is designed and created to be.

Through persistence, building increased strength, and by never giving up, it eventually emerges, spreads its wings and takes flight.

The bird as it soars knows the freedom and realized potential that only comes after struggling alone in the dark.

Lord Byron wrote, “Adversity is the first path to truth.”

Nature, like numerous stories of human triumph through suffering and toil, shows us that newness of life comes through struggle, pain and oft repeated effort.

Birth and growth, deepening enlightenment and success, come through some kind of labor pains, persistence and wrestling with all manner of forces through various physical strains and emotional “dark nights of the soul.” Even the most charmed life knows strife and suffering, and the most wretched life can know moments of boundless grace and grandeur.

The butterfly as it flutters amid beautiful flowers carries with it the nearly unimaginable reality of flight, which slumbered in the caterpillar as it crawled on its belly such a short time before. And our potential for personal transformation is no less dramatic.

Adversity is defined by Webster’s as great affliction or hardship; sometimes it is also considered a misfortune. But if we view it differently, we can experience it differently as well. Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” In Chinese the character or word used for crisis and opportunity is the same. It is only the context or way its viewed that makes it one or the other.

The pearl knows its value and worth was hard won, after encountering an unknown and unwelcomed challenge, a harsh, foreign irritant. It knows the chaffing, abrasive power of a single grain of sand, against which it grew and formed its beauty, luster and strength.

The diamond testifies that true radiance can come from the deepest, strongest, elements which work against it with tremendous force, intense pressure, only to end up forming multifaceted brilliance and extravagant beauty.

If it is true that we learn by example as well as experience, by metaphors in Nature and stories as well as circumstances, then we can be heartened by the birds and butterflies, the pearls and diamonds. And by others who have gone before us and lead by example.

You may recall that the great Babe Ruth for many years held the World Record for the most home runs (714); do you know he also held the record for the most strikeouts (1330)? For which record is he remembered?

Many of us at various times in our lives fear failure. We don’t aspire to anything great because of the risks and the likelihood that we could fail. Yet failure can be one of our best teachers. If we gain something from it then it is not a failure, but a lesson.

Mr. Don M. Green in, Everything I Know About Success I Learned From Napoleon Hill, has written, “Each attempt is a risk, and every one can fail, but each attempt that is not successful should be seen as a step in the direction of the desired goal.”

If the baby bird stopped pecking after a certain amount of attempts before it emerged, it would not make it. It must continue on until it is free however many attempts it takes.

Mr. Green goes on to say, “There is a good chance that if you question a successful person, he will tell you that he learned the secret of success through trial and error, being thwarted, being challenged, and even being ridiculed by those proclaiming, ‘It can’t be done.’”

What I know is this. Nature, with its beauty, movement and simplicity, has both harmony and design. We are part of that elegance and intelligence. And the inherent drive to survive, to thrive and to succeed in attaining our heart’s desire, is somehow part of that design. To be in harmony we must focus on what we can do, and let go of what we cannot.

As JJ Birden explained in a recent training on success, we must focus on controlling what we can control; and not give our energy and attention to those things which are outside of our control.

For the sake of our health, emotional and spiritual well-being, and achieving our desired goals and successes, we need to release all that is unresolved in our past and everything which is uncertain in our future.

We need only focus all our efforts on what we can do right now, having our definite goals clearly in mind. The present is the only time we have to take effective action and to do anything meaningful and fruitful. The rest has either passed or has yet to occur.

Remember always, in the words of Thomas Carlyle, “Adversity is the diamond dust

Heaven polishes its jewels with.”

If you read only one book this year, make it Mr. Green's! Take to heart its lessons, follow its lead & you'll have all you need to succeed!

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Comments 2 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Focus....Bev and I sat down this weekend and she helped me to find my focus again. I was all over the place with my articles and attention and had gotten lost in the process. I have a clear goal once again....look out, world, Bill is focused again! LOL

Loved this hub. Thank you, Linda, for being who you are. :)


Linda Compton profile image

Linda Compton 3 years ago from The Land of Enchantment Author

Hey, Sir William,

Thanks for your comments, and the update. GO BEV! Now, our dear, dear Bill, all I can say is BRING IT ON!!!! And as much as we need and value your Voice...do take good care of y-o-u. Here's to your new found clarity.

Blessings, L.

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