Who Can’t Listen, Must Feel

We tend to miss the value of lessons until it is too late.

Does hardship have the potential to transform our mindset and abilities?

Who else has a wise parent? I have two and I hated it back when I thought I had all the answers. Nowadays I am painfully learning from lessons I was too stubborn to listen to as a teenager. If you ignore a warning you still learn the lesson. You learn from the consequences, not the advice. That extra discomfort is a much more effective teacher. When I was younger, my Dad said to me that he’d never seen me work hard for anything. I was one of those kids who got good grades without having to revise. I managed to perform to a decent level in sports through natural ability alone. I’ll be honest, at the time I took it as a compliment. His words, however, while maybe not a criticism, were not just an observation – they were a warning. Hard work, like so many other things, has to be experienced and practiced. We generally prefer to avoid situations that require hard work, living safely in our comfort zones. But life doesn’t always guarantee that as an option.

For most of us there are times when a high work ethic is mandatory.

There are some people, however, who have never known anything but struggle. When your very existence is uncomfortable and inconvenient, you develop in ways you couldn’t do otherwise. When you are pushed to do things that you have never previously done, you grow. A surprising amount of successful people come from modest means or even poverty. These rags to riches stories are definitely worth celebrating but they are not a coincidence. It’s cause and effect. Limited opportunities and resources eradicate complacency and demand a determination that cannot be replicated as easily in comfort and abundance. This same grit is the edge that often sets the very best apart from their competition. I wouldn’t expect anyone to wish for a more difficult life. The idea of regretting not having enough pain and problems is absurd. However, we do need to value their consequences.

So how can we achieve a hardened strength of character without having a hard life?

If life doesn’t force us into growth then we have to be disciplined enough to demand it of ourselves. If we want to be more driven and determined, we have to challenge ourselves to sacrifice the often easier, more convenient options. The best way to always improve and progress is to have a life purpose; an evolving reason for the things we do every day. If you have a goal, you will never do what you can get away with, you will do what is required. Without that we will never reach our potential or be prepared for the more difficult parts of life. If we aren’t moving forward, in this day and age, we are moving backwards – and dragging our children with us. The next generation will require determination and Resilience more than any other. We cannot expect them to have Flexibility if they always have things easy. It is our responsibility to ensure they have difficulty as well as direction. I am passionate about improving the world our children will inherit but not naive enough to assume it will ever be a utopia. There is a very fine line between shielding them from pain and preparing them for it. The worst that can happen if we fail to completely protect children from discomfort, occurs within our control on a smaller scale. If we are unable to prepare our children to deal with it at a later age, however, the implications can be much worse. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for reading.

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