You succeed despite the adversity you face along the way to success.

            We have all heard that. Nothing worth having in life comes easy after all, and we will all face times of adversity along the way. It’s inevitable.

            So the successful people in life all agree – facing adversity is a part of the journey and your success will come despite of that adversity. Right?

            Not quite.

            You don’t succeed in life DESPITE your adversity, you succeed BECAUSE of your adversity.

            "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me...You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."-Walt Disney

            Matthew Syed wrote a terrific book a few years ago called “Bounce” which explores what makes people successful in all walks of life. We highly recommend it to you as it is a great read. It explores many fascinating elements of success, and has some fascinating stories as well.

            One of them involves the United States track team, which was trying to determine why it was that runners from Kenya were so dominant in long distance running at the international level. In fact, many of that country’s most successful runners came from a tiny region called Nandi District, which contains only 1.8% of Kenya’s population, but has produced about 90% of the nation’s top runners.

            How was that possible, they wondered? Was it genetics? Was it something about the environment there? Was the key to their success in their diet, or in the water perhaps? How was it possible for one tiny area to produce so many great runners, they wondered.

            The research came back to them and the evidence was clear. It was none of the above. The dominance of the runners from this region came down to the fact that many of Nandi District’s children had no transportation to get to school – except to run. Which many of them did, every day, sometimes in their bare feet on rough terrain, just so they could get to school and back home. For many there was no other way.

            And the local heroes to these children were not high priced professional athletes as is the case in North America, they were the Kenyan stars of long distance running, many of whom had the same way to get to school every day as they did – they had to run.

            "There will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones, it depends on how you use them."-Friedrich Nietzsche

            This information was relayed to the US track officials, which then had to try and determine how to counter this with the obvious financial advantages they possessed. How could they use their funds to counter this by helping their own athletes? One suggestion was tongue-in-cheek perhaps, but was clearly made: Use the money to buy the Kenyan children buses so they don’t have to run to school!

            The children of Nandi District often succeed and go on to become Olympic champions not because of genetics, or diet, or some kind of drugs; they succeed because they HAVE to run back and forth to school every day. And once they get there, they see the evidence of the Kenyan greats who did the same thing they just did, and they are inspired by them.

            It would certainly be considered a huge adversity to have to run back and forth to school every day, with no buses. But those Kenyan runners succeed not despite the adversity they faced, they succeeded BECAUSE of the adversity they faced.

            As the US track official who suggested buying the Africian kids buses realized, children in America run primarily for fun, exercise and with the hopes of one day competiting for their country in an Olympics perhaps.

            The Kenyan children were running BECAUSE THEY HAD TO. That adversity made them stronger, made them tougher, increased their endurance. No wonder they have dominated the sport for so long.

            Friends, we all know we have to face adversity. And most of us know we will succeed despite of our adversity. But what we really need to know is that it’s not despite our adversity that we succeed, it is BECAUSE of it.

            So when you next see adversity on the way, remember this story as you battle through it. You will come out the other side of it better and stronger – and not despite it, because of it. Be grateful for the challenge it brings. You will be a better person because of the adversity you are facing.

            "Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success."-Arianna Huffington

            Thank you very much for reading! You can listen to our TEAMMATES podcasts with Chris DePiero, Jim Rooney and Roger Lajoie at, follow our daily Twitter tweets on Twitter and Facebook posts @TeammatesTrio. For more information about our personal developing coaching and courses, email We are happy to help you discover the many ways to make YOUR life better by having a TEAMMATE on your side.

            Have a great week!     



You will succeed because of your adversity, not despite it

Copyright © Roger Lajoie 

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