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Gaining Through Adversity

How can the pain of adversity provide gain? "That's crazy", one man recently said to me. Yet, it's not the adversity we face or the temptations that come our way that defines us...it's how we deal with them that defines the character of our being.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Sir Winston ChurchillAdversity is one of those words that when we hear it or it comes our way our inclination is to run and hide from it. It feels frightening and uncomfortable. Then there are those who choose adversity either as an outcome to wrong ethical or moral choices or as a means to an end. Adversity can be a gift, full of hidden jewels or it can be a dreaded part of life that leaves us feeling depleted, depressed and discouraged. How we perceive, receive and respond to adversity depends on nature (our innate personality), nurture (our primary caretakers influence) and autonomous choice (adulthood).

Each of us are born with an essential nature. It is the soul, the spirit, the person we are to be in life. Some of us are born persistent, and curious and even as babies would laugh at about everything. Others of us are born shy and reserved and would cry at about everything. Regardless of how we interact with the world, we are born with a purpose and a journey to take. Our innate personality is our nature.

Then there is the nurture component. Nurture comes from our primary caretakers generally the parents but sometimes others. As we grow we observe how they respond to adversity. Close your eyes for a moment and think about your childhood and teen years. When adversity came, did your parents get angry or did they take it in stride? Did they blame the world or did they welcome it as an opportunity to learn? How did they respond to you when adversity came to your life? Did they hold you and promise never to allow you to hurt again, blame other people or the experience, or did they hold you, soothing your tears and encourage you to try again? Did they ignore your pain? Nurture is a very important component to our training in life. We initially receive the strength to move through adversity by the confidence our parents instill in us. The third component developed when we became separate from our parents. It is the element of free choice. It is the time we use our knowledge and wisdom to accept what we were told, reject what we were told or redefine it in such a way that integrates what we accept what we reject. If we were raised to fear adversity and choose to hold on to the fear, then we will fear adversity. By the same token, if we were raised to expect adversity, then we will have adversity. If we choose viewing adversity in this way, we choose to be held captive by it and experience a negative outcome. However, if we understand that adversity is just another part of life and accept adversity as a teacher, the outcome is very positive. There are so many pearls in adversity if we choose to see beyond our pain, our fear and our disappointment. A friend had the misfortune of having her foot crushed through a very odd accident at work. Mary was unable to work and subsequently lost her job. She had the experience of being in a wheelchair and depending on other people. Being a very independent woman, she had little understanding of the experience of being physically handicapped. The pearl for Mary was that she learned compassion for those who were physically handicapped and those who were in chronic pain. Her adversity changed through the transformation of her perception. A few seek adversity for the greater good. Mother Teresa is an example. After falling ill with tuberculosis and was sent away to heal, she received the call of God to work in the slums of Calcutta where she lived with the poorest of the poor, the rejects of society, the homeless. Adversity surrounded her not only from a sustenance point of view, but also initially from her superiors at the Catholic Church. She experienced adversity from the local religions where she established her home. She experienced adversity from choosing poverty as her calling. She did not choose to overcome adversity. Instead, she integrated it and used it as energy to develop her ministry: "I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." (Excerpt from the Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech)Then there are those who enter into adversity through the wrong choices in life resulting in negative consequences. I, as an international keynote speaker, fall into this category. I was caught up in the illusion of success. Through a series of actions resulting from unethical choices, I became a Federal Prisoner. Although a very painful and difficult , I was fortunate in that I did not allow himself to become a prisoner of adversity. Rather my time in Federal prison gave me time to evaluate my life, the choices that lead me to prison and develop a plan for the rest of my life moving forward. Now a Senior Executive in a publicly traded company and a motivational speaker, I have the fortune to share how adversity can have extraordinary outcomes if you choose to receive its gift. Adversity does not go away. Gaining through adversity means that it becomes a part of life that refines and defines us. Recognizing that many people need to redefine the perception of adversity in their lives, my prison experience and ethics keynote presentations allow others to explore the experience of adversity and to explore how to receive the teachings of adversity through my experience. I created the Choices Foundation (a non-profit organization). Through this organization I am fortunate enough to travel to high schools and colleges teaching ethics and growing through adversity from lessons learned through my personal experiences. For information on the Choices Foundation (a non-profit organization) and the presentations on ethics and adversity given by Chuck Gallagher, contact Chuck at chuck@chuckgallagher.com or visit www.chuckgallagher.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


On a crisp October day in 1995, Chuck Gallagher took 23 physical steps… opened a door… and began a new experience that was life-changing. Gallagher explores that experience and the success that followed… while involving the reader in ways that could be life-altering for them. Gallagher captures the heart of the audience in an honest way that deals with human emotion. For information on Chuck’s keynotes and workshops go to www.chuckgallagher.com or for a free ezine on Ethical Choices contact Chuck at chuck@chuckgallagher.com.



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