Motivation Monday: Embrace and Create Adversity to Build Resilience


Some of the greatest success stories in history have come from people who’ve faced tremendous adversity in life. These people have experienced war, famine, trauma, disabilities, severe discrimination, abuse, and more. Despite these massive obstacles, they develop into a highly successful person, business owner, politician, or leader.

Stats show that the percentage of successful business owners, and professionals in many fields who’ve overcome serious adversity is higher than the general population. If we look at one relatively common and minor condition such as dyslexia, we see that struggling through a dyslexic childhood can potentially have benefits later in life, and create an environment ripe for success:

Julie Logan, emeritus professor of entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, in London, says that 20% of the UK’s business self-starters have the condition (dyslexia). Her research into the US market showed that 35% of company founders identified themselves as dyslexic, compared with 15% in the general population.

These stats point to the fact that the circumstances these people had to overcome have transformed them in some way, and that transformation has contributed to their success.

A key principle I work hard to teach clients is that to have the things you desire, often requires that you become a “new person”. Guy Kawasaki calls it the “Be Do Have” principle. I did a short video on it here ( .

The gist of it is that to have the things you want, you must become the person who consistently does the things necessary to produce the results you want.

Sure you can suck up some new behaviours in the short term, and even get some results (do New Years Resolutions ring a bell), but if you don’t transform who you are, then taking those actions will always be a struggle.

Adversity comes in many forms, but at its heart, adversity is the experience of having to overcome a challenge. Resilience is the mental and physical experience you get from your journey through adversity.

Typically, the adversity experience requires you to do something you haven’t done before, learn new physical and mindset skills so you can move past an obstacle. In other words, you must embark on a journey of personal and psychological change and become someone new that can effectively overcome the obstacles in your way of success/progress/development.

Most people view adversity as a negative thing to be avoided. They think “Why would I want to be uncomfortable? Life is fine right now. Change is too hard. I could never do that. I don’t have the strength”, and many other variations of this theme.

Over the years, I’ve observed that “People won’t change until they are ready”. The “pain” must be great enough to spark the desire to change their situation. It still amazes me how much pain, suffering, and adversity people put up with before taking action on their change.

It’s important to note that many times we need help seeing that an alternative reality exists, and that change is possible. We may also require guidance along the way, but help and guidance still require that we take ownership of our situation, and produce action towards the desired resolution.

Personally, and when working with coaching clients, I encourage the embracing of adversity, and to begin shifting to a growth and development oriented mindset.

It’s a key reason I believe that sport and athletics are such as great part of our world, and have the potential to be a massive factor in the health, development and success of future generations.

I won’t go into thoughts on how sport can benefit the developing world (that’s for another post), but there are many tangible benefits to people like us in the developed world.

Most people reading this have a roof over their heads, live well above the poverty line, and aren’t in imminent danger. They can sleep well at night without fear of imminent harm from violent enemies. Put simply, there are many real sources of adversity in the developed world, but we are much better off than many parts of the world.

So, if adversity can help us improve and perform better in life, but we don’t have a lot of adversity in our life, what do we do?

Don’t get me wrong, we also don’t want to wish for or invite serious adversity such as disease, abuse, and financial ruin upon us simply to learn a lesson.

While each of these dire situations has the potential for amazing transformation, the smart way to learn, grow, and develop as a person is to artificially create the conditions necessary to challenge yourself, and overcome obstacles in a safe and scalable way.

If we were learning to be a boxer, we wouldn’t just step into the ring with the heavyweight world champion as our first training session.

We would start with small skills, and continually build on them. We would challenge ourselves a little bit more every step of the way, by increasing the difficulty of our training and taking on a series of more skilled opponents. This is controlled adversity at work.

We do this everytime we learn a new skill, but few people seek out opportunities to strategically create adversity that will lift them to new levels of performance in life. Sport and athletics are excellent ways to do this where we receive all the physical, psychological, and health benefits that come with properly and consistently moving our body.

We also build a unique mental strength that comes from overcoming the challenges faced along this journey towards greater physical performance.

At FRESH!, we strategically use fitness and nutrition to help people build the mindset and habits necessary to transform the way they look at themselves, and the world around them.

We don’t exercise or workout to simply burn calories. We approach physical training from a movement quality, mindset, and daily habits standpoint. Once a client is able to internalize this process, it fundamentally changes who they are, and facilitates greater success in all of their future objectives.

  • What is it you want to improve?
  • What actions are you taking to move towards that goal each day?
  • How are you stepping outside your comfort zone each day?
  • Are you creating and embracing adversity to learn, grow, and develop in life?

The answers to these questions will be at the heart of your future performance improvements.

Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the Olympics!

Tim Borys
FRESH! Wellness Group

P.S. Physical activity is a great way to challenge yourself, but whether you are a beginner or an Olympian, it’s important to do it right.

If you could benefit from some guidance in learning to properly move and exercise, reach out. We can set up a call to discuss the options.Yours in Health and Happiness.

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