When adversity, failure, and heartache are part of my day, the first reaction is not, “Oh, great! These are the seeds of opportunity to learn and grow.”
Yet, the definition of opportunity is:
When the situation is right for you to do something you’re interested in doing, you have the opportunity to do it. The word comes from the Latin phrase, ob portum veniens “coming toward a port” which refers to a favorable wind blowing ships into the harbor. Think of an opportunity as something a good wind blew your way.
When problems raise their ugly, fire-breathing, dragon heads, I’d much rather gather up the black balloons, invite some whiners, crawl off into a cave to lick my wounds, and throw a grand ‘Pity Party’ — all for me.
Recently, however, I fumbled into an old audiobook download in my Audible library, by Napoleon Hill, of Think and Grow Rich fame. When I use ‘old‘ as an adjective, it’s because the season of his major thoughts and famous books was from the late 1920’s through the late 1930’s.
Although, in keeping with the principle of, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” I’ll mention that the concepts presented by Napoleon Hill are timeless. Read through his biography and notice how many times he, in the eyes of the bystander ‘failed.’ Yet, he — like Thomas Edison — simply, believed he had found one more way that doesn’t work and had discovered a stepping stone to future success.
All of the great Thinkers share this one noble premise, “Success is a State of Mind.” In the words of Coach, John Wooden, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Two Very Different Worldviews
I know you’ve heard the story about the two boys on Christmas morning. One boy is taken to the barn by his Dad and surprised with a pony. The young fellow is upset — because, he wanted a motorcycle. The other boy, when the stable door is opened, is greeted by a large pile of sh!t. Excitedly, he jumps right in and announces to his Dad, “Somewhere in this large pile of manure must be a big horse!”
Or, in the words of Napoleon Hill,
Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.
Odds are good our young entrepreneur didn’t find a horse in the dung heap. Yet, his Dad probably commended him for his attitude and effort. And, then, introduced him to a steed beyond the boy’s imagination.
All We Do Begins With A Thought
When we’re confronted by a Problem, can we immediately turn our minds from thinking, “Oh, darn!” — to believing there is a hidden Opportunity?
If we’re struggling a little, we can listen to this encouragement.
Regardless of what you think about Garth Brooks — or, his lifestyle choices — there is undeniably a resonance with the lyrics of that song for each of us.
There have been times in each of our lives when we thought we knew best. Other times, when we asked, “Why me Lord?” And, many times when we endured the laughter of the judgemental enjoying the pain of our mistakes.
One Man’s Mistake Is Another Man’s Harvest
Were they really mistakes or seeds of opportunity?
Think about it. If you’re a gardener, you know seeds are necessary to grow anything. To have a harvest, seeds must be planted and nurtured. It’s a small leap of faith to see that we are given seeds — for our personal growth. What we do with them is our choice.
Speaking of gifts, here’s another thought. If flesh and blood, imperfect specimens of earthly Fathers have an aching desire to give the best to their children, it’s pretty easy to imagine a Higher Power having our best interests at heart.
The Man In The Arena
Speaking of heart, here are the words of a hero, Teddy Roosevelt.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Cold and timid souls will delight when we stumble. They will envy our success, and, the galactically stupid of them will literally swear at us, as we offer to help them in their journey.
At the very best, 50% of the world will love us and the other 50% not so much. If we boldly share our beliefs and courageously defend them, guaranteed, we will make enemies of those with different beliefs. Because, birds of a feather do flock together.
It is not the end of the world when we face adversity, failure, and heartache. It is, simply, the end of one, very long, bad day.
Framing Is What Builders Do
Because success is a state (or frame) of mind, all we need to do is ‘re-state‘ — or ‘re-frame‘ — the situation from a Problem to an Opportunity.
And, “No,” this Story is not about defining Success by how much Money can be accumulated in a bank account. Remember, you are a unique creation and quite capable of defining Success in your way and on your terms.
Later in the life of Napoleon Hill, he had this to say,
Only by working harmoniously in co-operation with other individuals or groups of individuals and thus creating value and benefit for them will one create sustainable achievement for oneself.
We do that by planting the seeds of opportunity harvested from adversity, failure, and heartache. Then, we tend them with the greatest gift (love), which is a chosen, purposeful effort — often done in the face of fear — to nurture our own growth and the growth of others.