By now, you’ve figured out that challenges in life are inevitable.  You don’t have to invite trouble to find it at your front door.

Since every one is going to face difficult times at some level, the difference between those who succeed in life and those who don’t often boils down to how they handle these challenges.

So, the question then is…how do YOU handle adversity?

Here’s what I’ve learned…How you handle adversity is a function of what you know about adversity!

Let me tell you what I know:

1. Adversity exposes a person’s true colors.

Those who have been around me for more than 20 minutes have undoubtedly heard me share one of my favorite quotes, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” In other words, you find out who you really are, and you find out what you’re really made of, during times of difficulty.


I agree wholeheartedly with Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said,

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.

2. Adversity is opportunity in disguise.

Beneath the mask of pain and discomfort, adversity is really just an opportunity to grow and develop.

During my playing days (as a member of the Penn State Football team), Coach Joe Paterno would say that our opponent should be respected and appreciated.

I have to admit, this didn’t make much sense when I first heard it.  As a free safety, I had a different perspective on how I should relate to my opponent.  As I saw it, my role was to (legally) dish out high levels of physical pain – a motive that clearly was not exactly a sign of appreciation!

However, Coach went on to say that your opposition, the opposing team, created an opportunity for you to grow and improve.

You can only rise to the challenge when there is a challenge.  So, having a strong opponent forces you to increase your own skill level.

Think of what Magic Johnson and Larry Bird did for each other?  How about Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier?  Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus?  Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux?

You better believe that everything the University of Michigan’s football team does, they do it with Ohio State in mind!  The Buckeyes force them to function at a higher level in their recruiting, their game planning, and everything they do the practice field.

The Roman poet, Horace, said, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”

I encourage you, not to cower in the face of life’s challenges.  Instead, embrace them.  They really do provide a great opportunity to make adjustments to become stronger.

If you are going to succeed in life, you need to adopt the proper mindset and see adversity from the right perspective.  Yes, adversity will make you uncomfortable and force you to “dig deep”.  However, during those “gut checks”, you will find skills, abilities, and potential that you never knew you had.

I wish you well.