(An excerpt from the bestselling series How to Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds, based on talks by Earl Nightingale)
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught, “Adversity introduces a person to himself. On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.”
Opportunity beckons more surely when misfortune comes upon a person than it ever does when that person is riding the crest of a wave of success. It sharpens a person’s wits, if he will let it, enabling him to see more clearly and evaluate his situation with a more knowledgeable judgment.
It’s been my observation that people seem to be growing more and more fearful of risk of any kind. They seem bent on an almost frantic scramble for security without taking the time to think it all the way through.
There’s only one form of security we can attain during our lives. It’s inner security—the kind that comes from courage, experience and the ability and willingness to learn, to grow, to attempt the unknown. Security isn’t what the wise person looks for; it’s opportunity. And once we begin looking for that, we find it on every side. You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved. They go together.
The famous World War II admiral, William “Bull” Halsey, said, “Touch a thistle timidly, and it pricks you; grasp it boldly, and its spines crumble.”
I think we all know that, but we tend to forget it between problems.
All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them.
I particularly like Epictetus’ line, “Adversity introduces a person to himself.” That’s when we get to really know ourselves; that’s when we come face to face with the real person we are and the stage of our maturity or growth to that point.
It does no good at all to worry about times in the past when we’ve failed to measure up in our own eyes. We weren’t ready yet; we hadn’t at that point in our lives matured sufficiently; we weren’t wise enough. Besides, that’s in the past. It’s how we stand up to trouble now that matters. And we should keep in mind the truth and wisdom contained in his advice, “Opportunity beckons more surely when misfortune comes upon a person than it ever does when that person is riding the crest of a wave of success.”
Most very successful people can remember that their success was discovered and built out of adversity of some kind. It’s not the problems that beset us—problems are surprisingly pretty much the same for millions of others; its how we react to problems that determines not only our degree of growth and maturity but our future success—and, perhaps, much of our health.
It’s good to get rid of that word security once and for all. It makes us feel free again, as we felt as children, and we begin to see what this business of living is all about; we begin to really enjoy it.
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