The beauty of adversity - Bro

Adversity and difficulty are things that most people try to avoid. It is painful to be "behind the eight ball". Nobody likes to miss a meal (due to travel, being too busy to eat, or having a tight budget). The thing is the major growth in my life has been because of adversity.

When my wife and I got married we bought a house and had a plan. We cut things a bit close financially between our 20% down payment (part of which was supplied via a short term family loan), furnishings for our new home, parts of the honey moon, and the few wedding expenses not covered by my in-laws. Then adversity snuck up. Due to my mother-in-law losing her job we were suddenly on the hook for more of the wedding expense. At this point two things could happen. First, my wife and I could freak the hell out and fight each other due to the stress. Second, my wife and I could grow closer together (very fast) and take on the world as an “us”. Lucky for me we went the second route and made it work. To this day I am thankful for this experience. It really really sucked but the pain brought my wife and I a much better relationship.

When my second child was 1 months old I was informed by my boss that I was not a good fit for the company I was working for (I had been employed there for 10 years at that point) and I should find employment elsewhere. This happened out of the blue. There was no performance review or warnings. I took this trigger and used it to try and improve myself as an employee. I networked with other people in the company and took the time to expose my corporate weaknesses. I then spent the time to improve where I was critically weak and learn how to keep my head down (aka be more politically correct). Due to these efforts I ended up staying where I had been working. This experience was also something that improved my relationship with my wife. We took the time to develop a plan in case I lost my job. My wife took the time to learn where our money was and what our goals were. Had it not been for this very stressful event I would not be as good an employee and my wife would not have the same interest or understanding of our family finances. 

Last year I spent 4 months working on a job site. Long story short our main customer suddenly had the need for a electrical project manager. I ended up being the one to fill the need. Prior to this project the longest I had been away from home for work was 1 month. Suddenly I found myself on site herding cats for much longer than I was used to. This project was not a smooth project either. I ended up working 32 days straight at one point. This project forced me to develop an intimate understanding of my companies product on top of learning the ins and outs of project management (holding people accountable, paperwork, minimizing costs, and begging for resources). When all was said and done this project really forced me to progress as an engineer. On the relationship side this adversity did me no favors. As a couple my wife and I survived but it put a lot of pressure on our relationship. That being said the fact we survived it is a victory in itself.

My wife and I recently went on a Disney cruise. I know that does not sound like much adversity. The reality of the situation was my wife had a hard time flying there and back and ended up getting so seasick that she spent the whole last day of our 5 night cruise in our cabin. Needless to say this translated to daddy having to do more of the leg work (and a few parenting fails). Let me tell you taking a 5 year old and a 3 year old out to a nice cruise dinner by yourself is not easy. Having to juggle both kids and a sick wife made me appreciate our family’s health and my wife’s job as a homemaker much more. Without the struggle of this vacation I might not appreciate the things I have nearly as much. Sometimes you need to get sick to remind yourself what a blessing it is to be healthy. 

There are many events in our life that just plain suck. We all have them. With perspective and work (and luck) adversity can be a catalyst for growth. I am very thankful for the adversity I have experienced. At this point in my life I have learned to appreciate diversity (I still don't "like" it). My next step is to try to seek out adversity in moderation (take on difficult tasks at work, fasting, other?). Who knows what kick in the pants will trigger my next major personal growth.

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