“Courage is not something that you already have
that makes you brave when the tough times start.
Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times
and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”
~ Malcolm Gladwell
At various times in our lives, we all face what looks like insurmountable odds. We encounter unexpected life changes. Sometimes they can threaten to overwhelm us. However, despite the difficulties we find ways to maneuver through the obstacles and come out on the other side a stronger version of ourselves. If we are lucky, we have friends and family who provide support and encouragement. Ultimately, we need to realize that through the challenges, we are faced with two options. We can face them with determination or succumb to defeat.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, he describes individuals who overcame hardships and refused to accept defeat. They found a way to use their disadvantages and circumstances to change their life path. They ignored societal norms and peoples’ disapproval. George Bernard Shaw said, “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Gladwell describes unreasonable individuals who not only changed their lives, but impacted the lives of those around them. One increased the odds for children diagnosed with leukemia. Another fought against discrimination with Martin Luther King, Jr. And yet another, changed the lives of those who lived in New York’s Brownsville projects.
It is difficult to see the forest when you are surrounded by the trees, but in the end, we can be thankful because all the trials developed our strengths, all the disappointments nurtured our optimism, and all the lessons guided our future. The decision that remains is how do we use our experiences to give back and make life a little better for those still waiting to earn their courage.
This Thanksgiving, as we gather around the table with family and friends, remember to reflect and be thankful for the obstacles, challenges, and unexpected circumstances we face. They make us the people we are today “because the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.”
To all the people I have been fortunate enough to have in my life, thank you.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday?