Recently, I started a new exercise routine. While my goal for running is to run a 10k, my journey has begun with shorter distances in order to build up my endurance. After running these short distances for a few days and needing a new challenge, I decided it was time to bump up the distance. About halfway through my run that day, I started to hit a mental wall. The pain was coming on and I was trying to push through it in order to finish. Thankfully, I made the decision to keep going knowing full well that I would be happy I did in the end. And I was. It’s a great feeling knowing that you pushed yourself past what you mentally thought you could handle.
Out of my running that day came a leadership lesson. In our lives and in our careers, there are going to be periods of pain time. There are times when you just have to push through the pain. You don’t quit. You persevere. During these times of trials is when personal growth occurs which leads to new heights, new opportunities and, ultimately, the “potential you”. Toni Sorenson said this:
“Strength comes from struggle. When you learn to see your struggles as opportunities to become stronger, better, wiser, then your thinking shifts from “I can’t do this” to “I must do this.”
Successful people see opportunity where others see hard work and that is what sets them apart. Thomas Edison said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Too many people today want a handout and a free lunch. If we are going to reach our God-given potential and ultimately be successful, we have to be willing to dig in and persevere when it is least convenient.
Also, we have to learn to see the bigger picture. That requires us to think bigger. Thomas S. Monson said, “Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.” I know this is easier said than done but what are your goals? What are your aspirations? If you give up and quit when the going gets tough, will you still have a chance of reaching those goals you have set for yourself? That’s something you have to answer for yourself.
Life is never going to be perfect or easy. We are going to go through professional, personal and maybe even physical pain moments. In our jobs, we are going to deal with a situation that is less than ideal. Furthermore, we’ll probably go through a hard personal situation at some point. And when these trials happen, the easy route to take is to quit. But remember this: there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Just like diamonds are formed under extreme pressure, leaders are formed in challenging times.
Thomas Henry Hamblin said, “The world is divided into two classes of people: those who overcome life, and those who are overcome by life.” Life is going to have forks in the road. A barrier we may face is an example of a fork in the road and, in these pain times, we have a decision to make: we can go left or we can go right. As the poem suggests, my advice is to take the road less traveled.