“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” We’ve all heard that statement a time or two – we may have even said it a few times. But is it really true that tough times toughen you up?
I believe there is much to be gained from facing challenges and overcoming hardships. But I also subscribe to the philosophy of American novelist James Lane Allen, who wrote, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”
Enduring adversity or achieving difficult objectives definitely has its benefits. I am a firm believer in hard work, earning your own way, and the potential to do exceedingly well without life or success being handed to you on a silver platter. But I also believe that when it comes to a crisis, people tackle it with the tools already in their belt.
It’s our daily lives – our everyday decisions and habits and attitudes – that build our character and form us into who and what we really are. If you suddenly find yourself stranded on the side of the road with a stalled vehicle, you don’t suddenly acquire mechanical talent or find yourself able to create an incredible tool out of thin air to fix it – you have to rely on whatever skills and resources you brought with you. The same holds true for other crises; if you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a crisis, it’s not likely that you will suddenly develop excellent crisis management skills. The crisis doesn’t magically transform you into a superhero; it merely reveals the underlying skills and character traits that you have already developed – or not developed.
Allen expressed the same idea again in a different way; “Circumstances do not determine a man, they reveal him.” It’s when we face difficult circumstances that who we really are – at our core – is reflected in our decisions, words and actions. If you are an easy-going, composed individual, then most likely when put into a high-stress situation, you will keep your cool. The high-stress situation doesn’t make you into a person who keeps their cool – it just reveals the real you.
So what kind of character are you intentionally building on a daily basis? Who are you becoming… and what will be revealed when inevitable adversity comes your way?
What is a crisis that you’ve experienced, and what did it reveal about you, your toolbox and your character? Leave a comment below!