This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book due for release in the Fall of 2013...
When I was in 7th grade, I decided to play football. I remember a high school football coach coming to our practice to talk about adversity. It was the first time I had ever heard the word and at that moment I was somewhat intimated by the sound of it. The intensity of the coach’s face along with the stories that he told about current and former players overcoming adversity were particularly interesting. What made the stories interesting was the fact that the players he mentioned were not particularly gifted with size,speed or quickness. They were gifted with drive.
Adversity is a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune. When I think of adversity now, I immediately think about Eminem in the movie 8 Mile. For those who haven’t seen the movie, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem plays himself, a poor white kid growing up in a trailer park in Detroit, Michigan who aspires to become a hip hop artist. He has a group of loyal friends who he’s known for some time. They all love hip-hop and they believe in him and support him in his quest. They constantly run into a rival hip-hop group who call themselves the Free World. Throughout the movie Eminem and his crew have several run-ins with this rival crew and get into a series of lyrical and physical battles in the streets. The consensus is that Eminem’s lyrical skills are not quite up to par and they don't impress his rivals. Out to prove them wrong and himself right, he enters the most popular weekly freestyle battle at a local club. In front of thousands, Mathers steps to the mic, looks around, nods his head to the hip instrumental, stares his opponent in the eye then into oblivion and nothing comes out of his mouth. To his dismay and the disappointment of the crowd at hand, he completely embarrasses himself and is booed off the stage.
While many would deem this instance an epic failure and assume that he did not have the skills to compete in the first place, others might say that he choked due to fear. People have turned fear into an acronym that stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Are fear and adversity the same? Or does adversity bring about fear? While fear might be false evidence, adversity is false advertising. The craft that Eminem ate, drank, and slept was not displayed to the people in the club that night because he chose not deal with adversity. Was it out of fear? Most would say yes. I would say that adversity convinced him that his skill was not good enough or good at all. In his mind, he viewed the crowd, the atmosphere and even the other MC as the opponent when, in reality, the biggest opponent was the reflection in the mirror.
We read and hear stories about athletes and entertainers and even everyday people who consistently overcome insurmountable obstacles. We often discover that these people have displayed courage, determination, focus, discipline and drive and we assume they are born with it when in reality they have developed it in the face of adversity. We often hear that people have triumphed in the "face of adversity.” While these proven household ingredients never fail those who possess and use them, there is an element of overcoming adversity that most people don’t address. The first face of adversity that they have conquered is same one that we all must conquer; the face in the mirror. When was the last time you looked in the mirror? I’m not talking about when you brush your teeth, do your hair or remove that nagging nose hair. I’m talking about shutting the door, turning on the light and getting up close and personal with your reflection. No need for talking, smiling, frowning, or even glaring. As you focus on your reflection, let your soul simply talk to you, tell you the truth, set the expectation, allow you to envision who you want to become. Let the moment build some suspense and most importantly confidence. The eyes are without a doubt the window to the soul and it is the soul that tell you the real deal about adversity.
Adversity is false advertising because it paints a picture of fear, failure and inadequacy before we get a chance to prove otherwise. Look at David and Goliath and the odds that David would win. Look at J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, who was a single mother on welfare and discouraged by 11 publishers that her book was not worth writing or reading. Walt Disney himself was actually deathly afraid of mice, but chose Mickey Mouse as the icon of his empire. Nic Vujicic was born with no arms or legs but can swim, surf, and play golf. All of these people could have thought of a thousand excuses and could name a thousand people who have discouraged them directly or indirectly, but instead they found every reason not to buy the negativity that people tried to sell them.
The truth is you cannot face or conquer adversity outside of yourself until you face and conquer the adversity inside of yourself. You cannot fix what you will not face. Know that God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear. That’s something that you gave yourself. Often times fear settles in because we haven’t spent enough time thinking or talking to ourselves. Therefore our own insecurities become the elephant in the room. If we continue to ignore that elephant and put forth zero effort to get him out of the room, sooner or later he’s gonna get hungry and angry then eat and destroy everything in the room, including you. That elephant will completely disregard everything you want, need and value, but if you haven’t faced your reflection then you won’t be ready or confident to face that elephant.
Adversity comes with a FEE.
Adversity is a FORCE that pushes or pulls us to take action
Adversity is an EXPECTATION that we will match or exceed the intensity and power of that force.
Adversity is an ENCOURAGEMENT from within that convinces us that who we are is what we’re willing to do.
Adversity is false advertisement that forces, expects and encourages us to choose. It’s really all about how we view what we value. Some may think that force is an overly aggressive word, but when faced with challenges we are forced to step up or step down. When faced with adversity we do can choose to do one of three things; freeze, run or fight. In any event, our perception of the false advertisement compels us to do something. We freeze and let it continue it’s sales pitch to us because we’re unprepared or uninformed. We run because we buy that we’re not able to conquer it. We fight it because we refuse to lay down and let it beat us.
The cost of success is about the FEE that adversity charges. You either choose to pay by taking action and investing in yourself or you choose to lose by sitting there and investing in excuses. We must stop thinking that we don’t have the ability and/or the resources to face adversity. We have both, but we must develop the character, the heart and determination to conquer adversity.
I'm Coach Rice. I approve this message and I'm ready to pay the FEE. Are you?
REBOUND. RESET. RELEASE.