Monday, February 11, 2013

Learning to welcome difficulty in the interest of growth

I grew up with little training on the benefits of difficulty and failure.

I was a very good basketball player as a young child.  In fact, I was the proud winner of the Most Valuable Player Award at the Rollins College Basketball Clinic at age 10 in Winter Park, FL, my home town.   When it came time to try out for the Junior High Basketball Team, I was cut in the first round of tryouts.  I cannot overstate how difficult of a moment and period this was for me at the time.  This was a devastating blow to me, and I would not touch a basketball for at least 10 years.  Even now, at age 44, as I rarely pick up a basketball, I am forced to remember an astonished despondency of being cut from that team.  As a 12 year old, I was crushed and embarrassed by this important event in my life - and I remember the intricate details of it so clearly today 32 years later.  Yet, I learned nothing from it at the time, did not try out again, did not work harder.  I just quit.

A few successes and many failures have come and gone since then, and over the years, I have learned that those difficulties are actually the gifts which allow us to learn.  When we are confronted with a difficult moment, by confronting it head on, with a humble disposition and a focused mind, we are able to move through the difficult moment with renewed accomplishment.  This has been an important lesson for me - albeit one that has taken three decades to learn.

Sometimes, the difficult moments are presented in different forms - confusion, lack of clarity of direction, question of purpose, and other forms.  This usually is followed by a spark of idea, clear direction and understanding.  The difficulty, or confusion, is simply a precept to prepare one self for answers, knowledge and growth.

The difficult moments will always be in front of us - so, by welcoming them openly, we are able to grow, develop and learn in an optimal way.

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