In Monday Memo


Growing through adversity

The power of positive thinking is not enough when it comes to turning the lemons life deals us into lemonade. We also need to change the way we approach life otherwise our same-thinking will merely bring us more of the same – more lemons.

In his well-known book, Good to Great, Jim Collins refers to a meeting he had with an Admiral Jim Stockdale who had been severely tortured some twenty times during his eight-year imprisonment in Vietnam. During this time, he lived without any prisoner’s rights, no release date, and no certainty as to whether he would survive to see his family again. He was also in command of the prisoners as the highest-ranking officer and did everything in his power to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive – even at his own physical expense.

When Collins asked Stockdale what it was like, he answered: “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” So, applying this, we come back not weakened, but stronger.

Just how many of us have that amount of faith to turn our lemons into lemonade? What choices have we made to live with our lemons? For how many of us is this level of faith just too big an ask? And how many of us live in blind optimism thinking this is enough to get through?

Who didn’t make it through? “Oh, that’s easy,” said Stockdale. “The optimists.” He then explained that the optimists were always setting themselves goals saying they would all be out by Christmas and, then, when Christmas came and went, by Easter, and so on. “They died of a broken heart,” said Stockdale. The lesson Collins learnt is a lesson for all of us. “What separates people is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.”

As M Scott Peck wrote in that old classic The Road Less Travelled: “Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of our problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.”

Wow! So, in dealing with those serious lemons, we need to remember to never lose faith in the outcome, be brutal in looking at the facts, and let each lemon turned into lemonade define our life.

Monday Morning Perspective: “In the depth of winter, I finally realized that within me lay an invincible summer.” Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Kind regards

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