Adversity: Handle it! Overcome it! Profit from it!



In the first edition of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Bruce Wayne, out of rage against a corrupt justice system which sets the man free that murdered his parents in front of him, decides to travel the world, learning new skills and abilities to confront injustice.  He meets Henri Ducard, who trains him to reach his highest potential, to epitomize excellence in his desired skills; Along the way, however, there are many obstacles, challenges, set-backs, personal demons, etc.… that Bruce has to handle, overcome and profit from in order to realize his goal of being a crusader for justice.  It is not an easy journey.

As we begin to execute the steps in our game plan, as we begin to perform actions to reach our destination, there will be times

  1. When we misstep;
  2. When we make the wrong turn;
  3. When we have set-backs;
  4. When we make mistakes;
  5. When we get distracted;
  6. When we get discouraged;
  7. When we get disappointed;
  8. When we run out of resources;
  9. When the people we thought where with us are no longer by our side,
  10. When we feel like we want to give up;
  11. When everything seems to be going against us;
  12. When nothing we do seems to be going right;

At Montabass Academy, we refer to these times as “The Stuff” that gets in the way of winning. That is, winning at whatever we are seeking to be triumphant.

“This Stuff” can and do come in many forms. “This Stuff” can take the form of people. “This Stuff” can take the form of things, situations, conditions or circumstances.  “This Stuff” can be physical or mental, tangible or intangible, words or deeds, thoughts or feelings.  While our goal is to be victorious in our quest, the nature of “This Stuff” is to stop us, to deter us, to slow us down, or to distract us. In other words, to keep us from reaching that coveted destination, our highest desire.

Some people might refer to “This Stuff” simply as challenges, problems, obstacles,  or barriers.  Regardless of what it is called, to be successful in reaching our goals, we must learn to how to use these times, these feelings, these people, these situation as fuel, as motivation, to propel us closer and closer to our goal.  We can’t allow; we can’t afford to let “This Stuff” to stop us, hinder us, slow us down or distract us from what we are out to accomplished, from achieving that which we have worked so hard to achieve.

We know, both from experience and research, that there are at least three things we must learn to do if we, as aspiring winners, are 100% committed and absolutely determined to achieve our definite chief aim, our highest goal, our coveted destination.

First, we must handle it!  That is, we cannot let “This Stuff” control us; but instead we must control it. We must do so with poise and grace.

Second, we must overcome it!  In other words, we cannot let “This Stuff” stop us; instead we must find a way of getting past it, of getting around it, of getting over it, of getting through it.

Third, we must Profit from it!  Meaning, we must make sure that we are better off because of the experience. More importantly, we must ensure that we are now able to deal with other similar experiences more efficiently and more effectively.

If we examine our lives, we will see the truth in these statements. How many times have we started out on a journey, set out to achieve a goal, only to be hit immediately by obstacles after obstacles, roadblocks after roadblocks, challenging times after challenging times?  What happens when we allow for “This Stuff” to get the best of us? What happens when we failed to get around or failed to overcome it? What happens if we failed to learn from the experience?

I am obviously a fan of super hero movies, Batman and Iron Man being two of my favorites. While the stories are fictional of course, the mission that each of these characters knowingly or unknowingly have to complete and the ensuing mountain of challenges, problems and adversity that they must confront, overcome and profit from are ever-present.  The struggle against “This Stuff” is the heart of each movie.  It is only when these characters are successful at addressing these challenges in whatever form it manifests that the heroes accomplish the mission.  Granted, each of these super hero stories end with the character being victorious. Unfortunately, we know that our lives are not as story-bookish.  There are many of us, while having the best intentions, never accomplish the mission because we permit either consciously or unconsciously “This Stuff” to defeat us. Or worse, we may even let it stop us from getting started.

This ability to handle, overcome and profit from any and all adversities, challenges, problems or “This Stuff” that gets in our way as we strive to win has been written and spoken about from a number of different great sources including Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Les Brown, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, Confucius, to name a few.  While this article is not meant to suggest that these are the only abilities that one should master, this is an excellent starting point.  Other factors like determination and persistence are just as crucial to our successful attainment of our highest goal.

In closing, I would like to quote Booker T. Washington whose life was a clear example of how despite the circumstances of one’s past, the conditions of one’s presence or the uncertainty of one’s future, a person can still achieve great things, can still realize his/her dreams.   Booker T. Washington is often quoted saying that “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one reaches in life as by the obstacles which he has to overcome”.

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