• Darin Vilano

Why Adversity is Your Secret Weapon | Inside My Business

Recently, I experienced a minor setback in my business.  And, even though it was small, it got me thinking about adversity.  In fact, it’s hard for me not to think about it, because it defines so much of my life.  Growing up poor to a single mother who had to support three kids with a tiny, home-based business in an economically depressed, rust belt town was just the beginning.  I’ve dealt with tragedy, family illnesses, a major natural disaster, and at least four near death experiences.  Yes, four!  Let’s just say life was pretty crazy when I was young.

With that as my background, it’s easy for me to shrug off business issues.  They seem so minor in comparison to what I’ve been through.  Of course, I don't ever want things to go wrong in my business.  I care deeply about my clients, my products and services, and my relationships.  But, caring doesn’t prevent the inevitable problems that will come my way.  They’re just part of being in business.  They’re just part of life.

I’m often struck at how easy some people fall apart at the most trivial of issues that surface in their companies.  I know that perspective is everything, so I don't mean to sound judgmental.  I’m super empathetic and I get that all challenges are relative.  But, when I see this happen, I can’t help but think of the advantage that I’ve been given.  Without question, I see the adversity that I’ve been through as the source of my strength.  Just as intense resistance in the gym shapes my muscles, resistance in life shapes my character.

Sure, when I was going through each struggle, it was hell.  It hurt, and I wanted whatever it was to be over.  But, I dug down deep and pushed ahead.  In those dark times, there would inevitably come a moment where I found myself alone thinking that somehow this thing that I was going through would eventually make me a better person.  I wasn’t sure how, but I was sure that it would all work out in the end.  And, I was right.  Now that I'm older and have perspective, I can see that it was the adversities in my life that have shaped me the most.

And, I’ve also realized something else.  The reason why I’m able to see my darkest moments as the times where my character was forged is because I consciously chose to define it that way.  At some point when I was a kid, I must have realized (without being able to articulate it) that the one thing I was in control of was the meaning that I placed on what happened to me.  Maybe because there was so much chaos in our household, and maybe because I had been abused at the hands of an authority figure, so much of my world seemed beyond my control.  But, the one thing I could control was what I felt and how I thought about it.  It was the one place that no one else could touch.

This is why I feel so strongly about the role of adversity in our lives.  Now, I’m not going to have the audacity to ever tell anyone how to interpret what happens to them.  This is something that each one of us has to do for ourselves.  And, there are certainly going to be times when you’re in the middle of a struggle and you just don’t have enough distance from it yet to be able place a meaning on it.  But, I can say this:  When you’re able to decide that what you’ve been through has made you stronger; when you’re in a position to see yourself as a warrior that has overcome the odds regardless of what has happened to you; and when you can realize that you are defined, not by what happens to you, but instead by how you respond to it, then your adversities will become your secret weapon in life.  After all, adversity can either break you down to a new low point or be a powerful source of strength.  The choice is yours.

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