We all face difficulty in life. This is a part of being human. But when it comes to our professional lives, can our challenges bring us anything other than heartache and stress?
To me, hearing or reading about other people’s success stories is an unbelievable boost. For one, it provides a great sense of positive emotion that reassures me in my own doubt or worry. Second, it creates an opportunity to learn and grow in my own experience and through my own perspective. Lastly, it’s a great reminder that life isn’t perfect and no matter what occurs, there are ways to not just survive—but to thrive.
My son is dyslexic and is also challenged with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As you can imagine, academics do not come easy. Since he began school, he’s suffered one way or another and has struggled with new challenges every step of the way. As a mother, it’s painful to witness because no matter how much I try to help, ultimately it is up to him to take control of his challenges and overcome them his way. As I look toward his future, I often worry what it will bring and how he will manage. But this I know: his struggles will make his success, not break it. And here’s why: Challenges provide opportunity to build perseverance, creativity and character.
Did you know that Richard Branson is dyslexic? Yes. The billionaire entrepreneur who founded Virgin Group and has investments in all areas of business and leisure including space travel. Incredibly, this unbelievably successful and intelligent man spent his formative years struggling in school. Recently, he published a letter he wrote to his 10 year-old self, which is awe-inspiring; particularly to children like my son who are going through similar struggles. It is quite lengthy, so below are some highlights, but if you have an opportunity to read the letter in full it’s absolutely worth it.
I’m writing to you from more than 50 years in the future. You’re a lot older now, and while you’ve lived a happy and healthy life with no regrets, I have some advice for you.
You know how you love to play outdoors and explore the world around you? Never stop doing that. Always seek adventure. Learn to swim, find your own way home, and climb trees with Lindy, Vanessa and your friends. The spirit of adventure will keep you curious; open your mind to great opportunities; and steer you on a lifelong quest to prove that impossible is just a word …
Your imagination is one of your greatest gifts . . . You will face many challenges, and often feel like you don’t fit in and that you can’t always keep up. Don’t let this hold you back. Use your imagination to find inventive ways around it. Your ability to think differently will become one of your biggest advantages in life – taking you places where most straight-A students will never go.
Challenges will be a constant in your life. You will make a lot of mistakes and fail time and time again. But don’t let this discourage you. Failure teaches us life’s greatest lessons, and often shows us a better way of doing things. Don’t ever let failure get you down. Everyone fails.
Above all, always remember to have fun. As you grow older you will realize just how important it is to do what you love and love what you do. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t excite you. Find your passions and go out there and grab at them with both hands. Life is for living and try to enjoy every day.
Here on The Methodology Blog, we often talk about failure and how it teaches. We’ve discussed breaking the educational mold and turning fear into innovation. We amp up the idea of creativity in the workplace. We encourage our readers to strive for happiness in your job. These are the notions we must remind ourselves of when problems arise and overwhelm us in our jobs. We are only as good as our outlook is on a situation and that is how challenges make us, not break us. We must rise to the occasion as they say and stand confident. Never doubt ourselves. Instead, be true to our thoughts, choices and decisions. Richard Branson is proof of this and so is my son, who always has his nose in a book, loves to act in his school plays and is a thriving, confident and happy 5th grade student at Fortune Academy, an Indianapolis-based school designed specifically for children with learning differences such as dyslexia and ADHD.
Don’t allow difficulties in your job and in your life keep you from accomplishing your goals. Instead, face them confidently and without hesitation. Dive in to the challenge knowing it won’t be easy, but every step forward is a success that can be relished and celebrated.