“I really needed to hear that message. I’ve been struggling the past couple of years.”
A participant said that after my recent Selling Through Tough Times keynote.
The word struggle is chock-full of emotion. Reflecting on previous struggles transports us to a time of suffering. The pain becomes real again. You feel it. You may even wonder, “How did I make it through?” Your reflection may also yield a sense of pride. This struggle represents a period of tremendous growth and resolve. You then acknowledge, “Look at where I am now—how far I’ve come.”
Some even display their struggle as a badge of honor. When I meet entrepreneurs, it’s more common for them to boast about their early struggles than glamorize current success. It’s inspiring to hear these leaders describe their battle through the struggle.
Struggle even triggers humor. The legendary Zig Ziglar even struggled in sales. He highlighted his shortcomings as a door-to-door salesman by saying, “About the only things I sold during that period were my car and my furniture.”
A myriad of emotions is wrapped up in our unique struggles. But these struggles generate a universal outcome: strength.
Strength is found through the struggle.
Consider these two definitions of struggle. Both definitions are technically accurate, but which definition resonates with you? Which describes your attitude toward struggle?
A very difficult task,
striving to achieve something in the face of difficulty.
How you define struggle determines the amount of strength you find through it. Your response depends on whether you view struggle as a noun or a verb. The first definition implies a state of being; the second implies action. Struggle as a state of being implies fixed, stationary, and static. Struggle as a verb implies motion, effort, and energy.
You can’t sit at the bench press and wait for strength. It’s only through action that you exercise your muscles. The same is true with struggle. You can’t wait your way through struggle and expect to be strengthened by it.
The struggle is a bellwether of bounty. It’s the leading indicator of success. So, the more you struggle, the closer you are to success. However, pain manipulates your perception. Because of the intense pain, success appears distant. With conviction, believe struggle is here to strengthen you.
Meng Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, has sage advice for those who are struggling:
“When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in this paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.”
My dad shared this quote when I was struggling. It helped me find strength. I hope it does the same for you.