Hard Times Make Us Strong

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Think back on a tough time in your career or your business. I mean, think of a really tough time. Yeah, you’ve got a story. I bet it was really, really not fun times. None of us enjoyed the those times, but you probably remember a major lesson learned from it – something you have vowed never to do or allow to happen again! I  bet you also had to get really creative and improvise to just to survive. Then, little by little and step by step you started to gain back your confidence and were able to overcome the challenge. Today, you are now stronger and smarter because of that hard time!

I’m sure you remember the scenario: you were working really hard on a project or a deal. Things were going well. You are seeing progress – thinking you finally made it. Numbers were increasing (maybe even by a lot). Then out of nowhere; the apocalyptic, unexpected event happened. Following that, several smaller issues bubbled up. Then more issues arose. Numbers declined and continued to decline – and continued. Finally, you hit what you consider “rock bottom”. I bet you can still remember sitting there feeling sorry for yourself thinking “how could I have done something so dumb” or “how could this happen to me”. What happens next is the most crucial time in your career! You react.

Adversity is what defines us. During time of comfort, there is no growth. It is just a time of comfort and success is easy. We often get lazy during those times and pay less attention to expenses, business relationships, and growing skills. We become soft. When adversity arises, it creates a time of honest decisions. It is a test of our true passion. In these situations, you either give up or you find a way to work harder. You either break or grow!

Amazingly, if you commit to persue, you find a way  to continue. During these times, you must create a new plan or revise your existing plan. You focus on the basics just to survive. You are forced to grow – to become stronger. There many areas of your mindset you refine during hard times. Below are a few of the elements of your revised mindset essential to survive.

  • Refine Skill Set – During the last US recession (around 2008), there were massive business and job losses. It was a dark time for employees and business owners. However, many people took the opportunity to return to school to make themselves more marketable. Many online education companies experienced massive growth of students during the recession. During hard times, you are forced to refine your skill sets.
  • Focus on Budget – When you are forced to cut back expenses, you realize that how careless you had become when things were comfortable. No one needs a $5 cup of coffee twice a day, but it’s easy to forget when we have extra money. When you focus on budget, you tend to also cook at home more – which is much healthier than most restaurants.
  • Relationships – Business is all about relationships. When things are going well and we are comfortable, we often forget the essential relationships that helped us find success or the continued relationship building needed to thrive. During a time of focusing on the basics, you return to those beneficial relationships and the relationship building skills essential to your success.
  • Mental Strength – You know the saying, “whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger.” No saying is more relevant. This strength can help you better navigate difficult times that will appear in the future.
  • Learned Lesson – Encouraging words by Richard Branson remind us that “You don’t learn by following the rules. You learn by falling over.” All successful business professionals learn at least one huge lesson in what not-to-do in their business.  It is almost a rite of passage on your way to success.

While we all love the comfortable times, it is the challenging times that mold and shape us into the unstoppable force we are to become as we strive to build our businesses or make ourselves a legend in our chosen career. So, enjoy the comfortable times, but try to find fulfillment in that you become stronger when times turn bad.

Most important: keep the the saying by Robert H Schuller close to heart, “tough times never last, but tough people do.”

On one my favorite podcasts, The Brian Buffini Show, published a great episode on a related topic titled “How to Change Your Life Once and For All.” Enjoy!

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